It’s not the Big 12 matchup we expected but you can throw out all the records when the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners tangle in the Red River Showdown. This contest became huge as far as the Big 12 standings go with both teams coming off upset conference losses to unranked opponents. It’s even more important for OU after two such losses has them tied with Kansas and out of the national rankings for the first time since 2016. Apparently oddsmakers liked the Sooners loss to Iowa State better than the Horns’ setback to TCU pegging Oklahoma as a 1.5-point betting favorite on the college football line. The Sooners have won two straight and four of the last five in the series, but the Longhorns have covered the line in four of those games. Bookmaker is offering a generous welcome bonus ($1600 max bonus).
Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Date and Time: Saturday, October 10, 2020, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
CFB Odds: Oklahoma -1.5, O/U 72
Texas vs. Oklahoma TV Coverage: FOX
This is a year unlike any other and the Sooners can certainly attest to that. Favored by 7.5-points they lost at Iowa State last week for the first time since 1960. They also fell the week before, 38-35, as a four-touchdown favorite over Kansas State dropping consecutive regular season games for the first time since 1999. They did open the season with a rout of FCS Missouri State so it makes us wonder just how good they really are. OU is now 1-2 SU and ATS this year. Texas is awfully close to being in the same position after losing to TCU last week laying 11 points. The Horns escaped with an overtime win over Texas Tech the week before but also failed to cover the 17.5-point spread. Texas leads the FBS in scoring with 51 points per game and they are 3-0 against the over. With the over/under at 72 this would be the third consecutive game with a total of at least that many points. The teams cashed the under in the previous two.
Having the Sooners tumble out of the national rankings is not a good sign for Texas. The 33-31 loss to TCU last week was the Horns’ sixth as a ranked team against an unranked foe since 2017. That’s’ the most in the FBS over that span. And it prompted quarterback Sam Ehlinger to say the school “deserves better.”
Ehlinger has done just about everything he can to keep the Horns on track. He tossed four touchdown passes against the Horned Frogs and leads the country with 14 scoring strikes in three games. He’s a big reason why Texas also has the No. 1 scoring offense in the FBS with an average of 51 points. But no matter how good the offense is it can’t score when turning the ball over or crippling drives with penalties. The Horns were flagged 12 times for 92 yards last week and were hit with 10 flags for 100 yards the game before.
Turnovers also proved costly in the TCU game. Ehlinger’s second interception of the season resulted in a Frogs field goal and Keaontay Ingram fumbled on the TCU goal line late in the fourth quarter with the Horns threatening for the go-ahead score. “We’ve got to find a way to make sure that whatever it is that caused the breakdowns today doesn’t happen again,” Tom Herman said.
Defense has been a sore spot for both teams which is why the total is north of 70. That’s a lot of points for teams that can score but well within reach for teams that struggle to stop opponents as well. OU coughed up a 21-point lead they held late in the third quarter losing to K-State 38-35. The Wildcats scored the game’s final 24 points while racking up 400 total yards.
There was more of the same last week. The Sooners took an 11-point lead in the first half and were up by a touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter until the defense squandered it. OU allowed 417 yards and yielded a pair of TDs in the final seven and a half minutes in the 37-30 setback. Thanks to their blanking of Missouri State in the opener the season numbers look good. Peel away the layers and the Sooners allow 408.5 yards and 37.5 points per game to FBS opponents.
Until the defense comes around, if it ever does, Spencer Rattler and the offense will need to score. It’s rare to see a team averaging 37.7 points holding a 1-2 record, but that’s the state of the Sooners right now. Rattler leads the second-best pass offense completing over 73 percent of his passes for 977 yards and 10 touchdowns. “Most of our guys haven’t experienced a start to the season like this. It’s still about how you respond. I believe I know how this group will,” Lincoln Riley said.
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It’s hard to imagine but the season is on the line for both clubs. The Big 12 took a serious blow when the top two ranked clubs lost last week. With the CFP likely out of the picture it’s about getting to the conference title game. The Sooners’ recent success in the series stands out and I know the issues that plagued them the last two games will be resolved. There will be points but the defenses have to make a stand.
CFB Score Prediction: Oklahoma 35, Texas 30
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– Phil Simon, Gambling911.com