Texas looking to snap Oklahoma’s stranglehold

first_img Most surprisingly, the Longhorns’ stars under coach Mack Brown have never played worse than they have at the State Fair of Texas. An Associated Press story this week noted the following facts: Wide receiver Roy Williams, the most prolific receiver in Texas history, never caught a touchdown pass against the Sooners; quarterback Chris Simms threw eight interceptions in three games; and running back Cedric Benson, who reached triple digits in rushing yards in all but one regular-season game last year, never hit triple digits in a single game against Oklahoma. Current Texas quarterback Vince Young, whose exploits in the Rose Bowl and early success this season have vaulted him into the heart of the Heisman Trophy race, has been equally ineffective against the Sooners. He is 0-2 in the series and was limited to 86 yards passing yards in last season’s shutout. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Despite the recent past, the Longhorns enter Saturday’s game a two- touchdown favorite, with an air of confidence unmatched past years at the same point of the season. The Longhorns’ reason for optimism this season is simple: Texas brings its best team in recent memory into Saturday’s game; Oklahoma brings its worst. Texas began the season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press and coaches’ polls and has slightly chipped away at USC’s lead in both. The Longhorns have quietly piled up dominating victories against inferior opponents after knocking off Ohio State 25-22 in perhaps the most high profile nonconference matchup of the season. Oklahoma meanwhile enters the game 2-2 and unranked, perhaps the most disappointing team in the nation. The Sooners began the season with Rose Bowl aspirations after reaching the Bowl Championship Series title game three of the past five seasons and a BCS game four of the past five. But their preseason top 10 rankings disappeared behind punchless play in losses to TCU and UCLA, and a close call against Tulsa. The absence of 2003 Heisman- winning quarterback Jason White on offense and a defense lacking key cogs from past squads and the sense of urgency that characterized past Sooners defenses have been the culprits. Adding to Oklahoma’s woes is the status of sophomore running back Adrian Peterson, who finished second in last season’s Heisman voting. Peterson suffered an ankle injury in last Saturday’s 43-21 victory over Kansas State and sat out practice Monday. He is expected to play Saturday, but how effective he will be playing hurt remains to be seen. National pundits have already handed Saturday’s game to the Longhorns, and on paper Texas appears a lock. But Texas has had a mental block against Oklahoma that extends beyond statistics. The Longhorns have entered each of the past five seasons with national-title aspirations and two of the past five as the favorite, only to fall and fall hard in Dallas. Now, with the Longhorns on the cusp of realizing their most promising season in years, Texas has reason to be wary of a game that has tamed the Longhorns the way this rivalry has. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has been his usually confident self this week, a sure sign he believes Oklahoma still has Texas’ number. “What’s worrying going to do for me?’ Stoops told ESPN.com. “We’re going to prepare them well and get them ready to play. Our guys have the excitement, the feeling and confidence knowing if we do things the right way we’ve got the opportunity to go down there and win.’ Walter Hammerwold can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2239, or by e-mail at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img THE beating Oklahoma has handed Texas in the Red River Rivalry the past few years have been so dominant, it’s hard to believe the Longhorns hold a 55-39-5 advantage in the series. Scores of 63-14, 14-3, 35-24, 65-13 and 12-0 the past five years have buoyed the Sooners’ Big 12 and national-title runs and served as marks of futility to 40 Acres in Austin. last_img read more