The biggest game for both schools every season. The Cotton Bowl’s greatest tradition. The Red River Rivalry.
Each October, the Sooners and Longhorns travel to Dallas, followed closely by thousands of fans from both sides to battle each other for a year’s worth of bragging rights. The Sooners have taken the last two battles by a total of 9 points, and last season the game came down to a Baker Mayfield – Mark Andrews 59 yard TD to seal the deal after OU blew a 20 point lead. This season, both of them are gone and OU’s offense will be featuring a brand new QB for his first ever battle with Texas.
OU Players making their first appearance in the Cotton Bowl
QB Kyler Murray will be falling under enormous pressure to keep the Sooners success alive after some incredible performances by Baker Mayfield. The mobile QB will still have three strong linemen present from 2017 and has a plethora of play-makers around him like Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon, “Hollywood” Brown and CeeDee Lamb.
Defensively, the Sooners and Mike Stoops are banking on extremely young players to make a huge impact for the defense that faced some big ups and downs in 2017. Top recruits safety Brendan Radley-Hines and end Ronnie Perkins will be major players for big minutes, along with returning players like Kenneth Murray, who stepped up big in the middle of the defense. Parnell Motley and Tre Norwood will be put in the spotlight as the defensive backs against a pass heavy conference.
A few new faces that will potentially find minutes on the field, especially with the new redshirt rule, are other top recruits like Nik Bonitto and Michael Thompson, who could be big pieces in replacing Obo Okoronkwo.
Texas 2018 Outlook
Last season, Sam Ehlinger took over, and played well, securing leads in the fourth quarter against OU, OSU and USC. Costly turnovers late caused the games to turn into losses, but he secured a starting job in 2018, and Tom Herman hopes the mobile QB turns in to someone similar to Colt McCoy. He finished 2017 with just 10 touchdowns, but on multiple occasions, he rushed for over 100 yards, showing his versatility running the offense.
Texas struggled mightily on the ground last season, but with Cal grad transfer Tre Watson, as well as the state of Texas’ number one RB recruit Keaontay Ingram, Ehlinger looks to have some help moving the ball on the ground.
On defense, Texas was a mighty force in 2017, allowing just 21.2 points per game, and scoring seven non-offensive touchdowns. They have some big names to replace, like Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year Malik Jefferson and DT Poona Ford. The Longhorns were big players in secondary recruiting, securing the nations number one and three safeties in the nation, Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster. They should make a big impact for a defense needing to replace a Thorpe Finalist in Deshon Elliot.
One huge loss for Texas will be the field flipper and Ray Guy winning punter Michael Dickson. He was a big part in the defense being awarded incredible field position, pinning opponents inside their 20 a school record 42 times.
This rivalry game could come down to two mobile QB’s making smart plays down the stretch, and the Sooners will hope that Rodney Anderson and “Hollywood” are there when Murray needs a big play elsewhere. My prediction for a game so hard to predict every season: Oklahoma 38 Texas 24