OKLAHOMA SOONERS (5-0)
vs. TEXAS LONGHORNS (3-2)
Cotton Bowl - Dallas, TX
Kickoff: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma -13.5, Total: 57
The Red River Rivalry is always a big game, and this year is no different as No. 12 Oklahoma and Texas both boast 2-0 records in Big 12 play.
The wheels appeared to be falling off the Longhorns bus after back-to-back losses to BYU and Ole Miss in the non-conference part of their schedule. However, Big 12 victories over Kansas State and Iowa State have given the Longhorns the opportunity to control their destiny to get back to a BCS bowl. However, Texas has been destroyed by the Sooners over the past two seasons, being outscored 118-38 in two losses. With starting QB David Ash (concussion) unable to play again, QB Case McCoy (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS) will once again be the 'Horns starter, looking to guide them in the right path. It appeared that the Sooners had figured out what to do on offense when Blake Bell regained the starting quarterback position. However, last Saturday against double-digit underdog TCU, the Sooners gained a mere 355 yards in a tight 20-17 victory. In that game, they were able to rush for 203 yards on 5.3 YPC, but were abysmal through the air (4.9 yards per attempt) and on third-down conversions (3-for-13). Oklahoma is 3-0 (SU and ATS) in the past three meetings with Texas, but if the offense doesn’t get back to playing like it had the previous two weeks, that streak may come to an end. The Longhorns are 15-5 ATS (75%) versus excellent passing defenses (5.25 YPA or less) since 1992, but they are also 0-7 ATS on the road after committing one turnover or less in four straight games.
Will Oklahoma win another blowout over rival Texas? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts continue to thrive in college football Best Bets with a combined 58.1% ATS record (61-44-3) for the season. StatFox Gary is a sizzling 82% ATS (9-2-1) in college football Best Bets over the past four weeks and 67% ATS (10-5-1) this year. StatFox Scott is 67% ATS (10-5-1) on Best Bets in the past three weeks and 60% ATS (18-12-1) for the season. StatFox Dave is 75% ATS (9-3) on Best Bets in the past two weeks and 56% ATS (22-17) for the season. StatFox Brian is 52.4% ATS (11-10-1) in Best Bets this season.
The ending of the game versus Iowa State last Thursday night was extremely controversial with a missed fumble call, allowing the Longhorns to escape with the victory. The Cyclones are famous for knocking off higher ranked teams in Ames, so Texas must build off a tough victory. In that game, QB Case McCoy (574 pass yards, 5.6 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT this year) looked much better than in previous games, throwing for 244 yards and one touchdown, while also running it in from one yard out for the go-ahead score with under a minute to play. With a strong ground game (192 rushing YPG, 5.0 YPC) led by Johnathan Gray's 439 yards (5.4 YPC) and 4 TD, the Longhorns have the type of offense that can wear opponents out in the fourth quarter. It is also an offense that doesn't give the ball away, committing just two turnovers in the past four games combined. While the offense has showed some promise with 455 total YPG, the defense was once again dreadful, giving up 463 yards to a mediocre offense from Iowa State, which actually lowered their season number to 465 total YPG allowed. The defense ranks 77th in the country in points allowed (28.4 per game), and it must improve in a big way to have any chance of defeating its rival.
After looking terrific in a 35-21 victory in South Bend two weeks ago, the Sooners offense took three steps back against TCU last Saturday. The Horned Frogs do have a very talented defense with NFL-caliber players on all three levels, but the Oklahoma offense has too much talent to be slowed down like that. Sophomore WR Sterling Shepard is an explosive receiver that has struggled to show consistency this season. Of his 266 receiving yards, 206 of those came in back-to-back games against Tulsa and Notre Dame. While part of that has to do with an inconsistent offense, Shepard is not a crisp route runner, making it hard for him to create separation from defenders. However, QB Blake Bell has been very accurate this season, completing 69.2% of his throws for 835 yards (8.0 YPA), 6 TD and 0 INT. Bell was also a touchdown machine against Texas last season with four scores, including three 1-yard TD runs. And the Oklahoma ground game has been excellent all year with 246 rushing YPG (17th in FBS) on 5.3 yards per carry. Considering the Sooners outrushed the Longhorns by a whopping 343 to 74 margin last year, Oklahoma will be running the football frequently on Saturday. RBs Brennan Clay (450 rush yards, 6.6 YPC, 3 TD) and Damien Williams (230 rush yards, 4.0 YPC, 1 TD) are the main ball carriers for this club, and the duo combined for 226 yards on 30 carries (7.5 YPC) and 2 TD in last year's romp over Texas. This game though, could come down to how well Oklahoma's 6th-ranked scoring defense (13.0 PPG allowed). Star CB Aaron Colvin will draw the matchup against Texas's top WR Mike Davis in what will be a very exciting matchup. Davis is a complete receiver with a nasty side, but Colvin will not back down. Look for these two to go at it all day, and Colvin to make a game-changing play to help the Sooners. In the past two wins over Texas, Oklahoma's defense has forced eight turnovers.