High noon of week seven of the 2013 college football season features a standoff between two Big 12 superpowers – but it seems that only one remains at the height of its power. On Saturday, Oklahoma and Texas face off for the 107th time in the history of these two highly decorated programs.
Texas won, 28-2, in the very first edition of the Red River Shootout, way back in 1900. However, the Longhorns have not claimed a victory in the series since 2009, and they don’t look like they have the firepower to this season.
But they may have to in order to save coach Mack Brown’s job.
Following a five-win 2010 campaign, the clock started ticking on Brown in Austin. His teams took home eight wins in 2011 and then nine wins last year. This fall was supposed to be the breakthrough that put Texas football back at the top of the college football totem pole.
With losses already to BYU and Ole Miss, that has not quite happened, but a win over Oklahoma might wash away all the anxiety.
If they are going to pull out a victory over coach Bob Stoops’ undefeated, No. 12-ranked Sooners, quarterback David Ash will not be a part of it. Ash has already missed two-plus games since suffering a concussion on Sept. 7 against BYU. He played the first half of the team’s game against K-State but has been on the bench in favor of Case McCoy ever since.
Oklahoma also lost its season-opening quarterback to injury, but has fared far better in his absence. Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight suffered a bruised knee against West Virginia. Blake Bell – the Belldozer – stepped in and has flourished. Having completed just under 70-percent of his passes for 835 yards and six touchdowns, he has not yet thrown a single interception.
Bell has developed a great rapport with Sterling Shepard and Jalen Saunders. Texas defensive backs Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson and Quandre Diggs are going to have their hands full in the passing game.
Texas’ biggest problems have not been defending anything through the air, however: It’s been in the ground game, and Stoops has just the weapon to give the Texas front seven without its best player (an injured Jordan Hicks) fits.
That would be senior Brennan Clay. The 5-foot-11, 201-pound San Diego native has outperformed fellow senior Damien Williams and taken over the No. 1 running back role in Norman. He recently tallied 111 yards on a mere nine carries against TCU and could blow up against Texas.
But will he? Or will new Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson have cooked something up to finally help his Horns play up to expectations against the run?
A year ago, Okalahoma demoralized the Horns, 63-21. The year before, the score read an equally brutal 55-17. Will Texas finally be able to turn the tide and earn a signature win against their hated rivals, or will the Sooners hand Brown and Co. a third consecutive beating?
We have no idea what the answers to these questions are, but perhaps you do. It’s time to settle it.
[Bottom Photo: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports, Top Photo: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports]