The Texas offense has been explosive all season long, scoring at least 37 points in every contest and ranking sixth in the nation with an average of 46.8 points per game. Running back Joe Bergeron has scored more rushing touchdowns than any player in the Big 12 with nine, while quarterback David Ash ranks third in the conference with a rating of 180.1. Five different receivers have at least 10 catches on the year, led by Jaxon Shipley’s 22 receptions and Mike Davis’ 263 receiving yards.
"They window dress a lot of their offense with a lot of shifts and movements," said Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops. "But, our defense is built for that. We feel like we have a defense that we can zero in on the things that they are doing. Hopefully though, not get too confused. This is how football is anymore. There's a lot of shifts and movements and you can't get caught up in all that. You still have to play your fundamentals, you have to play your alignments and keep your eyes very disciplined. That's the key. Once they move and shift, that we get lined up properly. That will be a big part of the game."
Oklahoma boasts the No. 17 defense in the nation through four games, giving up 303.0 yards of offense per contest. In addition, the 16.0 points per game allowed is tied for 19th in the country. OU’s passing defense ranks ninth in the country, yielding just 160.5 yards per game. Against Texas Tech (10/6), Oklahoma forced three interceptions after having just one takeaway entering the game.
"I think the big thing is that we keep getting better," sais Stoops. "Every time we step on the field we start to play a little faster, a little more sure of ourselves. I thought our execution was much cleaner Saturday and that's good. That's what you want as the season goes on. You want to get better and I thought we played better as a defense. I thought our containment on the football and keeping the ball in front of us was good all day. We didn't give up big vertical passes. I think there will be a lot of carryover from last week to this week. This week will be a much more physical run game but a lot of the same stuff we saw a week ago we'll see this week."
The Texas running game got off to an impressive start in 2012 as the Longhorns rolled up 280 yards on the ground against Wyoming (9/1) which had seven starters back on its defense. It was the Longhorns highest rushing total in a season opener in seven years. Sophomores Joe Bergeron (110) and Malcolm Brown (105) each posted more than 100 yards on the ground and averaged over 7.0 yards per carry. That duo combined for three rushing touchdowns and D.J. Monroe chipped in 36 yards on the ground and a rushing TD.
Against West Virginia last week, the 'Horns rushed for 135 yard with Jonathon Gray leading the way with 87 yards rushing.
"The running game is always a concern regardless of who you're playing," said Sooner Defensive End R.J. Washington. "You could be playing a passing team but if they can the run the ball, they're going to run the ball. So running game you always have to stop the offense's running game. If they can it'll shorten the game, you'll be out there longer. If you see somebody start getting run after run after run, if you're out on defense, they might have gone 20 yards on six plays and you'll still be (panting). You can't just let somebody run all over you all the time because not only will you be winded, it'll take away from your energy, it'll take away from your team and it'll let them get whatever they want to get. If you let them run over and over and over again then it opens up the play action and they can pick what they want to hit you with. That's never the position you want to be in when you feel like you've got your back against the wall type thing. It's not ever what you want to be in."
This one is going to be a tight one in the Cotton Bowl. While most of the prognosticators are taking Texas in this one, I'll remain a homer and go with the Sooners in a tight one, 45-31.