Sooners and Longhorns take center stage in Dallas

The 106th edition of the Red River Rivalry is on ranked Oklahoma Sooners and 11th- ranked Texas Longhorns collide at the Cotton Bowl.

Bob Stoops' Sooners opened the season as the top team in the land and despite winning all four of their games thus far, they have fallen one spot in the national rankings in each of the last two weeks. Last weekend was OU's most complete performance, routing Ball State 62-6 to improve the nation's longest home winning streak to 38 games.

Mack Brown's Longhorns are also a perfect 4-0 on the season. The Longhorns posted non-conference wins over Rice, BYU and UCLA to open the season and followed that with last weekend's 37-14 win at Iowa State in the team's Big 12 opener.

Brown likes what he sees in his team thus far.

"It's good to be 4-0 headed into the OU game. This is a special game, but it's even more special when both teams are undefeated. Guys are working really hard to improve. We still are very inexperienced and have a long way to go, but we feel like we're making tremendous progress."

This series began in 1900 and has been played in Dallas since 1912 and at the Cotton Bowl since 1929. Texas holds a 59-41-5 advantage all-time and has won four of the last six meetings. However, the Sooners won last year's contest, 28-20.

The Sooners will certainly present some problems for the Texas defense, as they are averaging a hefty 555.0 yards per game. The ground game is potent (177.2 ypg), but not when compared to the passing attack, which is churning out 377.8 yards per game.

It helps to have All-Americans both under center and on the outside. Junior Landry Jones is averaging 361.8 yards passing per game, completing 71.6 percent of his throws for 1,447 yards and 10 TDs. Six of those scores have gone to senior wideout Ryan Broyles, who already has 38 catches, for 476 yards. Other offensive players of note include sophomore wideout Kenny Stills (14 catches, 205 yards, two TDs) and junior tailback Dominique Whaley (379 yards, 5.4 ypc, seven TDs).

Coach Brown has tremendous respect for what Jones has accomplished under center in Norman.

"He looks a lot more like [former OU QB] Sam Bradford now than two years ago. When he first came in he was the young inexperienced guy, not the guy you see now. Now he's confident, the coach on the field, the captain on the field. He's got great talent around him, tremendous receivers, and at the same time he's taking care of the football. Five interceptions as much as they are throwing. It's, really good, 72 percent. That's Colt [McCoy] stuff. So I think Colt's best percentage was 76 percent for a season, and Landry is right in those numbers."

The Oklahoma defense isn't putting up the kind of numbers the offense is, but the unit has been effective, allowing just 15.2 ppg. In addition, the squad has recorded 11 sacks and 10 takeaways.

Ronnell Lewis (team-high 27 tackles) and All-American candidate Travis Lewis (23 tackles) lead the way in the front seven. Rush end Frank Alexander (22 tackles, 2.5 sacks) adds to the mix up front, while Javon Harris (24 tackles, two INTs) has performed well in the secondary.

The Longhorns will attempt to keep Oklahoma at bay with a balanced offensive attack. The team is averaging over 200 yards both on the ground and through the air, rushing for 206.0 yards and passing for 214.8.

Texas has youth under center, with sophomore Case McCoy (335 yards, two TDs) and freshman David Ash (213 yards, two TDs). There is no workhorse in the backfield to rely on, with Malcolm Brown (327 yards, one TD) and Fozzy Whitaker (141 yards, four TDs) leading the way on the ground. Jaxon Shipley is the team's top receiver, but has just 16 catches, for 280 yards and two TDs thus far.

The Longhorns have been solid on the defensive side of the ball, holding opponents under 300 yards per game (289.0) and have been particularly strong against the pass (178.0 ypg). That pass defense will be put to the test this weekend however, as Oklahoma slings the ball around as good as any team in the nation. A lack of a pass rush is certainly concerning heading into this week, with Texas collecting just six sacks over the first four games.

Senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho is the leader in the middle, pacing the team in overall tackles (43), TFLs (six) and sacks (two). He is joined in the middle by fellow senior LB Keenan Robinson (27 tackles, one forced fumble, seven QB hurries).

Stoops thinks his team thrives in big games like this one.

"If there is pressure on us I welcome it. We are more than capable of handling it. The pressure is there. Coming into this game, this is what you want. We want to be there getting after it. It's exciting coming into this atmosphere. It's exhilarating. It's something you want to feel. Players are usually more anxious this week in practice. There is more intensity, urgency and anticipation for them to get down there."