Sam Ehlinger has earned that starting spot. The freshman quarterback dazzled the home crowd in Texas’ win over Kansas State last Saturday, throwing for 380 yards and adding another 100 on the ground. It seems unthinkable that the coaching staff would pivot back to an injury-riddled Buechele after the performances Ehlinger has put together. That being said, the Red River Rivalry is a different animal. Herman has yet to name a starting quarterback for Saturday, likely waiting to see if Buechele’s ankle is back to 100 percent. This means that once more, heading into the biggest game of the year, the Longhorns have a question mark under center.
Baker Mayfield is among the top handful of quarterbacks in the nation, and the Sooners’ loss to Iowa State last weekend didn’t change that. The redshirt senior quarterback did all he could Saturday, posting 306 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Sooners’ porous defense gave up score after score on the other end. Expect more of the same consistent play out of Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense as they look to right the ship against Texas on Saturday.
Texas may not be using its running backs as often as expected, instead allowing the team’s quarterbacks to create plays on their own. But junior Chris Warren III and sophomore Kyle Porter are maximizing the value of each touch, earning key first downs and scores off of short carries in the red zone. The coaching staff seems to have settled on a more tactical approach to the running game, and it’s paying dividends for Texas.
Sophomore Abdul Adams and freshman Trey Sermon have been productive for Oklahoma this season, averaging 10.6 and 6.1 yards per carry, respectively. Adams, however, only played a single quarter in Saturday’s loss before exiting the game with an ankle injury. It is unclear if he’ll suit up against Texas — perhaps to the relief of the orange and white defensive line.
Sophomore Colin Johnson continues to shine for Texas. But more importantly, the rest of the receiving corps is beginning to find its rhythm as well. The depth that was lauded at the start of the season is showing up, highlighted by huge performances from freshman Reggie Hemphill-Mapps and sophomore Lil’Jordan Humphrey in Saturday’s victory. That being the case, whichever quarterback takes the field in Dallas for the Longhorns will have a number of weapons to get the job done.
Offense has never been the issue for the Sooners. Oklahoma takes full advantage of the individual brilliance of Mayfield to tear apart defensive backlines, and he has plenty of targets with which to do so. Redshirt junior Mark Andrew and freshman CeeDee Lamb have been productive all season, and ought to prove quite the matchup for an established Longhorn back unit.
The defense continues to be the best part of the team for Texas. Junior DeShon Elliott has emerged as one of the top defensive backs in the country, boasting a league-best five interceptions in five games. The defensive line punished Kansas State on the ground, forcing three sacks and eight tackles for a loss. The Wildcats were held to just 2 for 11 on third down conversions. If Texas is going to take down the No. 12 team in the nation, this is where it’ll happen.
It is truly a tale of two teams on the other side of the ball, as Oklahoma has looked downright shaky a number of times this season. Even without starting quarterback Jacob Park, the Cyclones still rattled off 368 passing yards with a staggering average of 18.4 yards per completion last weekend. Two weeks in a row now, Oklahoma has allowed its opponent to score 21 unanswered points. If the Sooner defense from last week shows up in Dallas, the Longhorns will put up 50 points.