Last year’s Big 12 title game was the first time since 2012 that Oklahoma actually lived up to its billing as the favorite in the Red River Showdown.
The last time Texas was favored in this matchup was the early Mack Brown days, which shows what the perception has been like between these teams.
Almost the same as last year’s numbers in the title game, the Sooners opened as -11 point favorites with a huge over/under of 75 for the game in Dallas.
Oklahoma got a lot of the early money mostly because Texas hasn’t looked great in recent wins, beating OK State by six points and then keeping West Virginia around a little too long last week.
Of course, things haven’t been overly easy for Oklahoma, who has the same 3-2 ATS mark as Texas.
The main difference between the first and second meeting between these teams last year was that neither could run the ball. The Longhorns went from 4.7 yards per carry to 2.8 yards per carry, while the Sooners went from 7.2 to 3.2.
That eventually cost Texas in the title game because it couldn’t move the ball in the fourth quarter when it was tied. Sam Ehlinger got sacked for a safety and then threw an interception on back-to-back possessions and the Sooners left with a cover and 39-27 win. Throw out those two mistakes and Texas probably would have covered, similar to the 48-45 win during the regular season.
There are a couple reasons to back the Longhorns against this double-digit spread. For starters, Sam Ehlinger’s numbers are better across the board, completing 69.4% of his passes on 8.4 yards per attempt for 17 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Even better is that most of those have come without one of his top wideouts in Collin Johnson, who could be ready to return from a hamstring injury for this game. Instead, it’s been Devin Duverney doing most of the work with 45 receptions and 463 yards in the slot.
The other factor is that Texas has three guys averaging at least 4.5 yards per carry, including Ehlinger. Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson have been a nice one-two punch and could be the other piece Texas needs in this game because Oklahoma is allowing close to 150 rushing yards per game.
Similar to last year’s win, if Texas can move the ball on the ground, that will keep its defense off the field. And if Texas can pass and run the ball, there’s no reason it can’t keep the score competitive.
The problem is that the Longhorns won’t be able to stop this offense and they’ve already struggled against worse groups like in recent games against OK State and WVU. The Sooners are another class even though their numbers will fall off at some point, which they did in the win against KU. Jalen Hurts is still completing 75.2% of his passes for 14.2 yards per attempt, 15 touchdowns and two picks.
He and Ehlinger would be equals except that Hurts also leads OU in rushing with 499 yards and seven touchdowns. Behind him, a trio of backs in Trey Sermon, Rhamondre Stevenson and Kennedy Brooks all average at least 7.7 ypc.
Texas has worse numbers against the pass, allowing 325 yards per contest, but it’s not like it has a good rushing defense. The Sooners should move the ball fine, but while 50 points are on the table, 40 points are more than possible for the Longhorns.
The Sooners are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four against a team with a winning record and the Longhorns are 1-5 ATS in their last six following an ATS win. Texas is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings between these schools.
Our Pick Texas -11