2018 Red River Showdown Preview

Evan Coleman on Oct. 2, 2018

For the first time since 2012, the annual contest between rivals Oklahoma and Texas is a ranked affair. Texas sits at #19 in the country and are winners of 4 straight games, 2 against ranked opponents. Oklahoma(#7) is undefeated and so far is the class of the Big 12 conference. Who will emerge from the Cotton Bowl wearing the Golden Hat? Let’s take a look at a couple areas that will likely determine the winner.

Keep Kyler Contained

If Texas wants to walk out of Dallas with a victory, they’ll have to limit Kyler Murray’s effectiveness. The junior QB is top 10 in every passing stat you could imagine. Not only that, he’s averaging 6.2 YPC on the ground. The Longhorns will have to play disciplined on defense in order for them to stay in the game. Wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown are his main targets through the air.

The Sooners ground game took a huge hit when they lost star RB Rodney Anderson earlier in the year. However Murray and RB Trey Sermon have picked up the slack. It’s a tall task to ask this Texas defense to slow down a team that averages close to 49 points a game. It starts with Murray as he’s the engine that powers their high octane offense.

Consistency on Offense

Defense is the stronger side of this Longhorns team. If they want to win this game though, they’ll have to put points on the board. Coming into this game they’re only averaging 28.8 PPG. Unless their defense is playing lights out, that won’t be enough against a Sooners team who’s capable of scoring on every drive. The running game will be key. RB’s Tre Watson and freshman Keontay Ingram will have to shoulder the load.

Oklahoma’s defense has been less than impressive, giving up 405.2 YPG. Texas will have to run the ball effectively to drain the clock and keep Kyler Murray off the field. QB Sam Elingher will need to limit his mistakes through the air. If he can play poised, they can score on this Oklahoma secondary. Wide Receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson have the size, speed, and skills to exploit the Sooners weak pass coverage.

This is a measuring stick game for Tom Herman and his squad. He’s been tasked with returning the Texas program to national prominence. Winning this game will go a long way into changing the whole “Texas is Back!” opinion. If his team is focused on playing clean football, they have a chance to upset OU. If they aren’t disciplined though, Oreos and Twinkies won’t be the only thing getting fried at the State Fair on Saturday.

(All stats referenced from https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/ and ncaa.com)

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