Texas wins if
Last week, Iowa State handed then-No. 3 Oklahoma its first loss of the season, which dropped the Sooners nine spots in the AP Poll to No. 12.
The Cyclones didn’t do anything too flashy on defense. They picked up two sacks, didn’t force any fumbles and didn’t grab any interceptions. They won the game by outshining redshirt senior quarterback Baker Mayfield on offense.
Mayfield threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns, but was outdone by his opponent redshirt senior quarterback Kyle Kempt, who completed 18 of his 24 passes for 343 yards and three scores.
Texas wins this game if it can replicate the Cyclones’ offensive production. The Longhorn defense has proved to be reliable and should allow the offense some margin for error. But with an offense as explosive as Oklahoma’s, Texas will need an uptick from its skill position players.
Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger looked sharp against Kansas State after getting picked off on his opening throw. He was poised in the pocket and showed his ability to sense and move away from pressure. Following the interception, Ehlinger threw for 380 and two touchdowns — one of which came in overtime — and ran 107 yards on 20 carries.
If Ehlinger can build on his solid performances thus far, the Longhorns should be in good shape to trade strikes with the Sooners. Assuming, of course, head coach Tom Herman sticks with him as the starter.
Texas loses if
Over the past four seasons, Texas and Oklahoma have alternated as victors of the annual Red River Rivalry game. During that span, the Longhorns won in both odd-numbered years.
That streak could be snapped this year if Texas cannot contain Mayfield, who has demonstrated throughout his career that he can raise his play to the magnitude of the game. Earlier this season against then-No. 2 Ohio State, Mayfield exploded for 386 yards and three scores.
Mayfield ranks in the top-eight in completion percentage and passing touchdowns and has the best yards per throw average in the NCAA. His impressive numbers have him squarely in the running for the Heisman trophy.
Mayfield has also yet to make a mistake this season, throwing for zero interceptions. In fact, he hasn’t been picked off since Nov. 19 of last year in a game against West Virginia.
Texas might be the most difficult secondary Mayfield will face this season. Junior defensive back DeShon Elliott reeled in a game-saving interception against the Wildcats last Saturday — his fifth of the year. He’s tied with three other players for most in the country.
The Longhorns’ run of picking off an opponent quarterback in every game this season directly conflicts with Mayfield’s spotless record. Someone’s got to give. The Longhorns lose this game if that “someone” is them and allow Mayfield to march up and down the field.