When and where: October 12, 2019, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX, 12:00 PM ET
The Texas Longhorns will try to shut down the Jalen Hurts Show when hosting the visiting Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday. In the first five games of the season, the Sooners quarterback has thrown for 1,523 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions, along with leading the team with 499 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Texas’ Sam Ehlinger is up to the challenge of going head-to-head with Hurts after amassing 1,448 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions so far this season. Oklahoma took a 39-27 victory when these two rivals met at the Big 12 Championship at AT&T Stadium a year ago. Can Hurts follow in the footsteps of former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray in Saturday’s head-to-head meeting?
Oklahoma on upset watchIt was literally only a year ago when the Sooners were rolling through their schedule until they ran into a massive brick wall in the form of the Longhorns. That game ended with then Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray getting out-gunned by Ehlinger, who heaped 314 passing yards and two touchdowns on the Sooner defense in a 48-45 victory.
It was the Sooners’ first and only loss of the 2018 regular season.
Of course, they were able to seek redemption by knocking off the Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship game. Given the limitations on the Sooners defense, their No. 1 priority on Saturday will be protecting Hurts and giving him an opportunity to be the transcendental playmaker he’s shown himself to be. Texas got absolutely torched by Joe Burrow and the LSU offense in Week 2, which means they can be had against the right offense.
Hurts has played as well as anyone behind center, and his dual ability to run and pass will be a huge problem for the Longhorns defense.
Running back Kennedy Brooks sat out last week with a knee injury, and he remains questionable for Saturday’s game. However, the fearsome combination of Trey Sermon and Rhamondre Stevenson coming out of the backfield should be more than enough help for Hurts to boost the Sooners’ ground game.
Can Ehlinger pull off another upset?Ehlinger has been the boogeyman for the Sooners defense.
Not only did he light them up in the regular season, but even in the Big 12 Championship loss, he still managed to throw for 349 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The only difference in that game was the ability of the Sooners defense to keep the Longhorns out of the end zone.
"He’s done a good job," said Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley about Ehlinger. "You know, he’s a competitive kid. From the outside, not having coached him, from the outside, looks like he’s a smart player. And he’s obviously benefitted from a ton of game experience and all within one system there, and so I think he’s taken advantage of the opportunities that he got there at a young age. You would guess that he’s a kid that’s probably worked pretty hard just by seeing the improvements that he has made. So he’s a heck of a player. I’ve got a lot of respect for him, the way he plays the game, the way he competes, and he’s certainly the catalyst of that entire team. He’s certainly what makes that group go.”
Oklahoma’s defense remains as suspect as ever, and Ehlinger is going to have plenty of opportunities to chew up chunks of yard with his arm. However, it would also be good to see him lean more on his rushing attack with Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson coming out of the backfield. Ingram went down with an injury in last Saturday’s win over Kansas, but he is expected to suit up and play this week.
On the defensive side of the ball, the team could be without defensive back Chris Brown, who is dealing with a thigh injury. The defense will need all the help they can get to slow down Hurts and the high-powered Sooners offense that has scorched them for 39-plus points in back-to-back games. Will Joseph Ossai, Juwan Mitchell and the rest of the defensive front be able to consistently get home against Hurts? Their ability to do so will ultimately decide the game.
- Sooners are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 neutral site games.
- Longhorns are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
- Longhorns are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 neutral site games.
- Longhorns are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games on grass.
- Longhorns are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games in October.