The Red River Showdown is the highlight of the college football weekend. Kickoff between the no. 6 Oklahoma Sooners and no. 11 Texas Longhorns is at noon EST on Saturday, October 12 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The game can be seen nationally on Fox.
Current betting odds list Oklahoma as 10.5-point favorites over Texas. The over/under for the game is an ambitious 75.5 points. Click here for a full list of this week’s college football schedule and betting odds for every game.
The Sooners are the current frontrunners in the Big 12 and have a decent chance to return to the College Football Playoff for the third straight season. Oklahoma has steamrolled all five opponents they’ve faced this season, winning by an average of 34 points. That includes lopsided wins over Texas Tech and Kansas in their first two conference games of the season.
However, Oklahoma may not be able to lose a game and make it to the CFP. Obviously, they did it last year, so one loss isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker if they can come back to win the Big 12. But Texas is one of just two ranked teams on Oklahoma’s schedule, making it critical for the Sooners to win and win convincingly in order to impress the CFP Committee.
Texas, meanwhile, has a loss on its resume but still feels like they have a chance to reach the CFP. The Longhorns lost a competitive home game to LSU the second week of the season, but they’ve responded with three straight wins. Texas has beaten Oklahoma State and West Virginia the last two weeks to begin Big 12 play and put them in a good position to return to the conference championship game.
A loss to Oklahoma wouldn’t necessarily take the Longhorns out of the running in the Big 12 title race, but it could end their CFP hopes. Other than Texas and Oklahoma, Baylor is the only other ranked team in the Big 12 right now. As a result, the schedule the Longhorns play isn’t strong enough to withstand multiple losses.
Of course, even with CFP and Big 12 implications on the line, these two teams don’t need any extra motivation when they get together. Both sides mark the Red River Rivalry on their calendar at the start of the season. Texas won a 48-45 thriller last season, only to have Oklahoma return the favor when they met in the Big 12 Championship Game at the end of the season. Overall, Oklahoma has won seven of the last 10 meetings, as the Sooners have owned the current decade in this rivalry.
Despite how strong Oklahoma has looked early in the season, I’m surprised to see the spread in double figures. As mentioned, the Longhorns beat Oklahoma in last year’s Cotton Bowl meeting. They’ve also held their own in a high-level game against LSU earlier this year. I’m not convinced that the Sooners are good enough on both sides of the ball to cover this spread, which is why this is a heavy lean toward Texas and the points.
The biggest reason I like Texas against the spread in this game is quarterback Sam Ehlinger. He’s been outstanding all season as both a threat to do damage with his legs and a bonafide gunslinger. Even in a losing effort, his performance against the LSU defense earlier this year is a testament to how good he is. The Texas running game has been up and down, but Ehlinger has maintained a high level of play all year. I think he’ll have a big game, especially after throwing for over 300 yards twice against Oklahoma last year.
In fairness, the Oklahoma defense has tightened up this season compared to some of their embarrassing performances a year ago. But I’m still not ready to trust them in a big game. They haven’t exactly faced any dynamic offenses outside of Houston, and in that game, they conceded 31 points. I could be wrong, but I’m not sure the Sooners can get enough stops to cover a double-digit spread.
Meanwhile, the Texas defense is the ultimate X-factor in this game. Getting a handle on Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma offense is a task no team has been able to handle this season. Behind Hurts, the Sooners are able to run and pass the ball with equal efficiency. The Oklahoma offense is an explosive play waiting to happen and has scored no fewer than 45 points in any game this season.
That being said, the Texas defense may be able to put up more resistance than some of the other teams Oklahoma has faced. While they’ve given up 30 or more points in each of their Big 12 games, the Longhorns have forced six turnovers in those two games. Even if there are some holes in the defense, the Longhorns have the athletes to take advantage of any mistakes Hurts might make. That could be one way the Texas defense can get the Oklahoma offense off the field.
In the end, this game is all about Ehlinger facing the Oklahoma offense. I’m not sold on the Sooners defensively just yet and I think the Texas quarterback is going to have a big-time performance in this game. Ehlinger is going to do everything he can to will his team to victory. Even if he comes up short as he did against LSU, I like the Longhorns to keep this game within 10 points and beat the spread.