Every year, the Red River Showdown is hotly contested between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns, and this year will be no different. Only four times in the last 14 matchups have the Red River Shootout been won by more than eight points.
The last seven games have been decided by eight points or fewer, and the 2021 iteration appears headed to a similar outcome.
The Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns appear on paper to be evenly matched. There are areas where the Sooners will have the advantage and others where Texas has the advantage.
As we’ve seen in the past, the record or ranking of the two teams never seems to matter as the intensity of the rivalry levels the playing field.
With kickoff just around the corner, here are five bold predictions for Saturday’s game.
Now, remember, these are things that could happen but are unlikely to occur.
Sooners Defense Holds Bijan Robinson UNDER 100 yards rushing
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This year’s Red River Showdown will likely be decided by how well the Oklahoma Sooners’ seventh-ranked run defense contains Texas running back Bijan Robinson.
Texas’ run game ranks fifth in the country in yards per game. While the Sooners haven’t seen a running game as good as the Longhorns’, Texas hasn’t played a defense as good as Oklahoma’s. In this matchup, something has to give.
Steve Sarkisian is going to ride his workhorse back for the second week in a row, but the Sooners are going to bounce back from their 15 missed tackles against Kansas State and do a much better job rallying to the football.
Marvin Mims goes back-to-back
Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) gains yards on a play in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Kansas State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The Oklahoma Sooners have gained contributions from a lot of wide receivers on the depth chart this season. So many that in four of the five weeks, they’ve had a different leading receiver.
Last week, the Sooners got Marvin Mims more involved in the offense and it led to great results in the passing game. Look for the Sooners to keep that ball rolling and target Mims in the passing game early and often.
Mims will have another catch for big yardage this week as he leads the Sooners in receiving for the second game in a row.
Oklahoma Sooners Running game outgains Texas
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Much has been rightfully made of the Texas Longhorns rushing attack. Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson are playmakers that can create big plays on the ground. The Oklahoma Sooners duo of Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray are nothing to look past either.
In our statistical outlook of this week’s matchup, I highlighted Bijan Robinson vs. Kennedy Brooks. On a per carry basis, Kennedy Brooks is not far off Robinson from a statistical standpoint.
As teams have done recently, look for the Longhorns to play two deep safeties in an attempt to take away the Sooners deep passing game, forcing Spencer Rattler and company to drive the field. Rattler will once again have an efficient day, but it’s the running backs who will be the stars of the game for the Oklahoma Sooners as they outgain the Texas Longhorns on the ground.
Oklahoma Defense Takes the Ball Away
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The Oklahoma Sooners have a takeaway in four of their five games this season and in each of the last two games. They’ll continue that streak as Casey Thompson will get picked off by the Oklahoma defense.
Thompson has three interceptions and has started just three games for the Longhorns. He’s not very good under pressure. The Sooners have one of the best pass rushes in all of college football, and it will be on display on Saturday harassing Casey Thompson.
The Sooners win by 10
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Though recent matchups have generally had the Sooners as the odds on favorite and Oklahoma may be favored and higher-ranked this season, this game feels like the two teams are an equal match.
Neither side will take this game lightly, but Oklahoma has the edge where it matters most: Quarterback.
Spencer Rattler is a better player than Casey Thompson. Though Rattler hasn’t had the year many people expected, he’s having a solid year and is doing exactly what the game dictates. Though he has four interceptions, he’s done a pretty good job protecting the ball.
His decision-making gets better by the week as he gains a better understanding of what defenses are trying to do to him. He’s not forcing throws deep when they are not there. Instead, he is picking teams apart from 0-20 yards downfield.
While the running game will be great on Saturday, it’s Spencer Rattler who will lead the Sooners to a comfortable win. This will be his shining moment and one that will squash any of the doubts about Rattler as a quarterback and the Sooners as national title contenders.