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Staff Predictions: Texas-Oklahoma

Texas and Oklahoma match up pretty evenly entering the latest edition of the Red River Rivalry.

Mack Brown will look to bump his record up to 7-8 against Oklahoma Saturday in the Cotton Bowl.

This game usually gives the winner pole position for the Big 12 championship, but this year it's just about staying alive in the conference race.

No. 15 Texas' last two games have been decided by a total of eight points, and everyone, including the staff, is expecting another nail-biter for the Longhorns against the 13th-ranked Sooners.

I don't like this match-up for the Horns. The OU defense is certainly better than WVU's so I think the Texas offense will likely score somewhere in the 20s. The OU offense is still serviceable, even though they lost their top playmaker from a year ago in Ryan Broyles, and the Texas defense hasn't really come close to derailing a decent offense all season. So I expect OU to score at least in the 20s as well. Does Texas have the athletes to beat Oklahoma? Yes. Will the Horns beat Oklahoma? I think the momentum of the season favors the Sooners. Bottom line: Texas had every chance to beat West Virginia and couldn't make it happen. What makes you or I think the Horns will do any better against the Sooners? A loss would be nine straight to ranked opponents.
Oklahoma 24, Texas 21

I've gone back and forth time and again, and truth be told, I still have no idea which team I favor. I saw Oklahoma's loss to Kansas State, and I was in the house for the Longhorns' lone loss of the season. Both teams have their strengths, both have their flaws, but in this game none of that typically matters. This game usually comes down to which team controls the line of scrimmage, and which team takes better care of the football. At this point, one of the things I believe is a solid truth about this team is David Ash has proven he can manage situations and take care of the football, arguably better than Landry Jones when both have been under pressure. For that, and that the one matchup that actually sticks out to me is the the Texas defensive ends against the Oklahoma offensive tackles, I'll go with the Longhorns to show some resiliency and get a much-needed win.
Texas 31, Oklahoma 27

You can point to a lot of factors in this game as potential keys. To me though, it's which quarterback can avoid the turnover and make the big throw when needed. Both David Ash and Landry Jones will be facing the best secondaries and defensive lines they've seen so far this year. Texas will need to pressure Jones and force him out of the pocket in hopes of getting the senior to make a mistake. I think both teams will have relative success running the ball, so, in my opinion, this one comes down to which team can protect its quarterback, and which quarterback can make the throws. David Ash has improved greatly since the last time he faced the Sooners, but Landry Jones has the experience of playing in the past three Red River Rivalries, including two OU wins.
Oklahoma 27, Texas 24

Like the saying goes: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. That's how I look at the Texas defense at this point, with the understanding that Oklahoma State and West Virginia has very good offenses and offensive coaching staffs. And now Texas faces another team that can score the ball, and take advantage of Texas' weaknesses in the run game, and passing game with confidence shaken. If the Oklahoma offensive line can somewhat control the line of scrimmage, the Sooners will score plenty, and put a lot of pressure on the Texas offense against the best defense it's faced this season. For Texas, if the Longhorns can't pressure from inside out, then Landry Jones will not be pressed into his weakness (lateral movement and throwing on the move) and he will be able to step into throws and play to his strength. For Texas, David Ash has to keep playing at the level he has in the last two games, and simply can't be late on throws down the field against a secondary that has a better chance to makes plays on late vertical throws. 
Oklahoma 34, Texas 24

Another chapter of the greatest rivalries in sports gets written tomorrow and I still don’t really know what to think about either team playing in it.  If Texas’ defense was even half efficient as the offense, I’d pick the Longhorns in a landslide.  If Landry Jones didn’t fold like a cheap tent when he’s under pressure, I’d pick the Sooners. I think the big questions here are, can Texas’ secondary redeem itself, and can the linebackers play disciplined? I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, just one last time. Anything can happen in rivalry games, so I’ll go out on a limb and say that Texas' defense will put forth a better effort than the past three games. Offensively, I’m not worried, even with running back Malcolm Brown possibly out.  This game might actually be Johnathan Gray’s coming out party, which will be fun to watch.  I’m going to say Texas wins this one due to their balanced attack that will keep the Sooners’ D on their toes.
Texas 38, Oklahoma 37

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