With 16 days left until KICKOFF, 'The Forty' is back in business and going to run down the top 19 questions for the upcoming year.
17: Can the Horns win their 3rd straight Red River Shootout?
Always the biggest game on Texas' schedule (sorry ags), the Texas-OU match-up will probably go a long way in deciding the Big 12 South champion as it has done for the past 8 years. Barring a early season upset, both teams should come into the match-up ranked in the top 10. If Texas can pull this game out, the season should be set up for the Horns to go into College Station as an undefeated team, looking at a shot at the national title.
There are some things that will be working in the Longhorns favor in this game. First, is the uncertainty at the Oklahoma quarterback position. In general, it it nice when your opponent has questions at QB, but it is even better when your biggest weakness is the pass defense (as is Texas'). While OU WR Malcolm Kelley will provide enough match-up problems to keep Duane Akina and Larry McDuff awake for the entire week, it is the ability of OU's QB to be able to get him the ball that works in Texas' favor. Oklahoma has three candidates to take over the otherwise powerful offense: RSFr Sam Bradford, Jr. Joey Halzle and Fr. Keith Nichol. At this point Bradford seems to have the edge, but he will be under close scrutiny as he has little security in his role at this point.
Oklahoma will bring in a veteran secondary to attempt hold the potent UT passing attack in check. Led by Jr. Reggie Smith, OU will have their hands full with Colt and his bevy of wide receivers. The real key to this match-up will be what kind of pressure OU can put on the Texas O-Line and Colt McCoy. If the revamped Texas line can keep Colt comfortable and off the turf, look for the Texas offensive to march up and down the field at will. Luckily, the Texas offense will have already cut its teeth against a powerful defense in TCU, earlier in the year. I see the Texas O-Line able to hold its own and give Colt enough time to pick apart the OU secondary.
Similarly, if Texas can hold OU RBs Allen Patrick and (injured) DeMarco Murray in check and can pressure the young OU quarterbacks, then look for the Texas defense to do enough the keep the Oklahoma offense from racking up too many points. There seems to be no reason to think that the Texas front line will not be great at run stopping. Frank Okam and Derek Lokey led the Longhorns to the 3rd best rushing defense in the nation in 2006 and look to improve more in the 2007 Year.
When the dust settles in Dallas, Texas will be able to take advantage of Oklahoma's weaknesses and pull out another victory in this storied rivalry. Colt will have a big day as the Texas O-line keeps the OU defense at bay and allows him to work his magic down the field. Texas' defense will be able to stop the OU running game and put just enough pressure on the QB to keep the ball away from Malcolm Kelley and force a few bad throws that can be turned into turn overs.
My Prediction: Texas 30- Oklahoma 17