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TEXAS VS OKLAHOMA
COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME OF THE WEEK
3* Texas +7 over Oklahoma - (sent to mailing list prior to line move) Looking at the early season schedules of some of the better teams in the country reminds me of the way heavyweight boxers are brought along with the padded records in order to gain a title shot. You know, they fight a bunch of tomato cans, get a record of 20-0, with some hype to go along with it and then 9 times out of 10 they are exposed in the big fight.
Both of these teams schedules get much tougher starting this week. Oklahoma State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, all await. The combined record of their opponents to date is 23-31. Approaching the game you'll here the ESPN chatterboxes talking about how great these teams are, how they are undefeated, blah, blah, blah. They may be great, but they'll need to prove it. Don't get to carried away with the results to date. Both are still untested.
Both squads delivered when they had to step it up a notch, with Texas over Colorado and Oklahoma over TCU. But clearly this is a huge test for both teams. In such a long standing rivalry between two teams you'd expect to look at past results and see a ton of games decided by a touchdown or less. No the case here. Not in recent history anyway. As a matter of fact last year was the first year in over a decade that the game wasn't decided by double digits. There was some flat out routes within the last 5 years. How about 65-13 Oklahoma in 2003. Or 45-12 Texas in 2005. Huge margins considering neither team has had a losing record in that time with both routinely winning 11 and 12 games a year.
You can break this game down and make both squads look great by highlighting some fantastic numbers. Such as Texas having yet to allow a rushing touchdown or either teams great offensive averages. But remember, these are two very good football teams that have played very soft schedules. Of course the stats are going to look good. Many are also quick to point out that the Texas pass defense is suspect. But that is also misleading as they haven't played a close game yet. When a team is way out in front in it's games it forces opponents to throw the ball frequently. The same can be said about both teams. Both have stifled opponents on the ground while both have given up more through the air as both built big early leads forcing their opponents to throw. While Texas has given up a few more yards through the air, you simply can't use that as a comparison of the two teams pass defenses.
Both teams have great QB's. McCoy had a great year in 2006 for Texas and was down a notch last year, but appears to be back in form this year. Likewise Bradford had a great first year for Oklahoma and continues to look good this year. McCoy has played well in this game two years in a row, winning it in 2006 and losing it last year. He's become a threat on the ground as well as he leads the Longhorns in rushing. (Last year he was -24 yards rushing in this game. Expect that to change this week.) He's not throwing into double coverage the way he did a year ago where Texas losses can be traced to McCoys picks. Given the choice right now at this stage of their careers we'd choose McCoy over Bradford. But the margin is slim.
This is a huge game for many reasons. The number one ranking Oklahoma holds is on the line. The Big 12 title picture is on the line. The National Title is on the line. The Heisman trophy is on the line. Yeah, it's a big game. Given the talent level of these two teams not only this year but historically, as well as all that's on the line here, we'll gladly take the touchdown with the Longhorns here in a game they can win straight up. 27 years or so of betting college football tells us we'd be ahead long term taking the touchdown in this spot. Every year the "situations" stay the same in college ball. Only the team names change. We've seen similar situations countless times. As recently as Alabama at Georgia this year. Can anyone point to an obvious mismatch anywhere in this game? Most folks are torn on who the straight up winner will be. Both returned just about an equal number of starters on offense and defense this year including both QB's and both lost a couple of key contributors from a year ago, but only 7 points separated these two last year and there's no evidence to suggest more than that will separate them this year. 3* Texas +7
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