Game Primer: OU vs. Texas

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OPENING KICK

• In a matchup of the Big 12’s two most successful programs, No. 7/5 Oklahoma meets No 19/20 Texas for the 113th time on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT. The ATT Red River Showdown, to be played in Dallas for the 90th straight year, will be televised by FOX with Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft announcing.

• Oklahoma has won 11 Big 12 titles in the first 22 years of the league, with no other program during that span winning more than three. All 11 of OU’s Big 12 titles have come in the last 19 years, with no other program winning more than two during the span. Texas ranks second with three Big 12 titles (last one in 2009; OU has won five since then).

• Oklahoma has won 27 of its last 28 games against Big 12 opponents (including its last 10) dating back to the 2015 season. Its only loss during that span came at the hands of Iowa State on Oct. 7 last year (the Cyclones beat the No. 3 Sooners 38-31 in Norman). Sixteen of those 27 victories have been by at least 15 points, and eight by at least 30 points.

• The Sooners have been ranked in the AP’s top 10 in 27 of the last 28 polls. The only time it wasn’t during that stretch was following last year’s loss to Iowa State (fell from third to 12th).

• Texas is the only Big 12 program with a winning record against the Sooners. Oklahoma trails 61-46-5 in the series, but owns a 25-19-3 (.564) advantage since 1971. In the Big 12 era, OU is 13-9 (.591) against the Longhorns. The Sooners have won six of the last eight meetings and 12 of the last 18.

• OU has scored at least 30 points in 27 of its last 29 games (29 and 28 in the other two). It has won 27 of those 29 contests. OU’s 27-2 record since Oct. 1, 2016, is the nation’s second best (Alabama is 28-2).

• The Sooners are coming off a 66-33 win over Baylor in which they set school records for yards per pass attempt (18.8), yards per completion (25.2) and pass efficiency rating (317.8). Their 11.2 yards per play tied as the third-best figure in program annals. Quarterback Kyler Murray tied an OU record by accounting for seven touchdowns, six of them through the air. He was 17 for 21 for 432 yards and no interceptions, and ran for 45 yards and a score. The team’s 11.2 yards per play marked the third-highest total in program history.

• Texas posted its fourth straight victory by beating Kansas State 19-14 on the road Saturday. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 207 yards and a touchdown on 29-of-36 passing, and D’Shawn Jamison returned a punt 90 yards for the game’s first points. The Longhorns held K-State to 217 yards (3.4 per play).

FIVE KEY STORYLINES

• This marks the first season since 2012 that both OU and Texas enter the Red River Showdown ranked in the AP Top 25. The Sooners have been ranked in the AP poll at the time of the Red River game in each of the last 13 years and in 18 of the last 19 seasons. Texas was unranked when playing the Sooners each of the last five years.

• Saturday’s game will pit the Big 12’s top scoring offense in Oklahoma (48.6 ppg) versus the league’s second-best scoring defense in Texas (19.8 ppg). Last year OU set a school record with its 8.3 yards per play (believed to be the second-highest average in FBS history), and this year the Sooners are averaging a nation-leading 8.9 yards per snap (the FBS single-season record is 8.6 by Hawaii in 2006). Texas is allowing 4.8 yards per play.

• Dating back to the start of the 2012 season, the Sooners are 33-6 (.846) in regular season games away from home. In those 39 contests, Oklahoma has outscored its opponents 1,566-1,064 (40-27 average). OU has scored at least 30 points in 32 of those 39 games. 

• Oklahoma has outscored its four opponents 243-116 this year. In the first half, the margin is 146-40. The last time OU allowed 40 or fewer combined first-half points through the first five games of a season was in 2013 (gave up 21). The defense has permitted scores on only seven of 32 first-half opponent possessions this year (22 percent).

• Through five games this season, quarterback Kyler Murray has a better passing efficiency rating (231.0), more total touchdowns (21), more yards per pass attempt (13.4), more yards per completion (19.0) and more rushing yards per game (57.0) than Baker Mayfield, Sam Bradford and Jason White did through five games the years they won their Heisman Trophies while at OU (see chart on the bottom of page 3 of these notes).

OU vs. Texas

SCOUTING TEXAS

• Texas enters today’s game 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12. Since a season-opening 34-29 loss at Maryland, the Longhorns have won four in a row, including home victories over No. 22 USC and No. 17 TCU. Texas has won four straight games for the first time since 2013. 

• In a 19-14 win at Kansas State on Saturday, Texas limited the Wildcats to 217 total yards (110 passing, 107 rushing) and 6 of 15 conversions on third down. The Longhorns gained 339 total yards (228 passing, 111 rushing) and converted 8 of 14 third downs. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger was 29 of 36 for 207 yards and a touchdown. D’Shawn Jamison provided the first score with a 90-yard punt return.

• For the season, Texas is outscoring opponents 28.8 to 19.8 and outgaining them 396.6 to 333.2 yards per game. The Longhorns average 243.4 passing yards and 153.2 rushing yards per contest and convert on 41 percent of third downs while allowing opponents to convert just 35 percent on third down. The Texas defense has collected six interceptions and forced eight fumbles (recovered one), and holds a 7-5 season advantage in turnovers. The defense has seven sacks and averages 6.0 tackles for loss per game. Defensive back Caden Sterns leads the team with three interceptions.

• Ehlinger has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,185 yards (237.0 per game) and nine TDs against two interceptions. He has also netted 153 yards and three TDs on 55 rushes. Top receiving targets Lil’Jordan Humphrey (26 catches, 403 yards, three TDs) and Collin Johnson (24 catches, 350 yards, 3 TDs) average 80.4 and 70.0 yards per game, respectively. Running back Tre Watson averages 56.0 rushing yards per game while Keaontay Ingram averages 51.8 yards.

• Head coach Tom Herman is in his second season at Texas. He owns a 33-11 career record and is 11-7 at UT. He went 22-4 in two years at Houston.

LAST YEAR IN DALLAS

• Oklahoma jumped to a 20-0 second-quarter lead, fell behind 24-23 with 8:01 remaining in the fourth and then scored on a 59-yard pass 1:08 later for the final points of a 29-24 win over Texas on Oct. 14, 2017.

• OU outgained the Longhorns by 90 yards (518-428) despite running 15 fewer plays, and averaged 7.7 yards per play to Texas’ 5.2. The Sooners limited UT to a 48.9 pass completion percentage (21 for 43).

• Lincoln Riley became just the fifth OU head coach to win in his debut against Texas, joining Bennie Owen in 1905, Jim Mackenzie in 1966, Barry Switzer in 1973 and John Blake in 1996.

• Baker Mayfield, who set a school record by reaching 200 consecutive pass attempts without an interception (his streak ended with a second-quarter pickoff), was 17 for 27 for 302 yards and two touchdowns in improving to 2-1 against the Longhorns as OU’s starting quarterback.

• The recipient of Mayfield’s final TD pass, Mark Andrews finished with four grabs for 104 yards. Marquise Brown added four catches for 73 yards and CeeDee Lamb hauled in three receptions for 74 yards after missing the final three quarters of the previous week’s game due to injury.

• In their Red River rivalry debuts, Trey Sermon rushed 20 times for 96 yards and Rodney Anderson carried 10 times for 48 yards, including a 15-yard TD rush in the second quarter that put OU ahead 17-0.

• Emmanuel Beal and Kenneth Murray led OU with seven tackles each, while Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, D.J. Ward and Amani Bledsoe each registered a sack. Ward finished with 2.0 tackles for loss while Okoronkwo also forced a fumble, broke up a pass and registered five quarterback hurries to earn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.

• Punter/placekicker Austin Seibert had a banner day, going 3-for-3 on field goals (25, 28, 36 yards) and 3-for-3 on extra points, averaging 47.0 yards on his five punts (three over 50 yards, two downed inside the 20-yard line [one at the 1-yard line]) and registering seven touchbacks on his eight kickoffs (made a tackle on the non-touchback).

MURRAY ANOTHER OU HEISMAN HOPEFUL

• After a competitive battle during August camp, head coach Lincoln Riley announced Aug. 22 that redshirt junior Kyler Murray would be OU’s starting quarterback. Through five games, Riley’s decision has proved fruitful, with Murray ranking first nationally in yards per pass attempt (13.4) and yards per completion (19.0), second in passing efficiency rating (231.0) and points responsible for (126), third in passing touchdowns (17), fifth in total offense per game (349.0 yards; didn’t play in second half vs. Florida Atlantic, OU only ran 40 plays vs. Army) and 10th in passing yards (1,460) and completion percentage (.706). He is the only player averaging at least 250.0 passing yards (292.0) and at least 50 rushing yards (55.2) per game.

• Murray has thrown at least two touchdowns passes in every game this season, and at least three in each of the last four contests. 

• A 5-10, 195-pounder from Allen, Texas, Murray is looking to become OU’s fourth Heisman Trophy finalist in the last three years (Baker Mayfield in 2016 and ’17 and Dede Westbrook in 2016), and its second straight winner (Mayfield). He has accounted for 21 touchdowns (17 passing, four rushing) and just two turnovers (interceptions). He ranks second on the team with 276 rushing yards (5.9 per carry) and paces the squad with four rushing TDs.

• Murray was the backup last season to Mayfield, who won OU’s sixth Heisman Trophy as the Sooners claimed their third straight Big 12 title and made the College Football Playoff for the second time in three years.

• No school has ever produced back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners who were quarterbacks.

• Only six times since the start of the Big 12 Conference in 1996 has a Sooner thrown for at least 300 yards and rushed for at least 65 in a game, and Murray has done it twice (vs. UCLA and Iowa State). He passed for 306 yards and ran for 69 against UCLA before throwing for a career-high 348 and rushing for 77 at Iowa State. For his effort against UCLA, Murray was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Week.

• Through five games, Murray has been considerably more efficient as a passer this season than Mayfield was the last two seasons when he twice set the single-season FBS record in the category. Murray’s 231.7 rating is 33 points better than Mayfield’s existing record of 198.9 set last year, and 35 points better than Mayfield’s 2016 mark of 196.4.

Murray

HOORAY FOR “HOLLYWOOD”

• Marquise Brown, who hails from Hollywood, Fla., was one of the country’s most explosive receivers last year, and 2018 is no different. Brown ranks eighth nationally in receiving yards per game (108.8) this season, and among players averaging at least four receptions per game he ranks second in the nation with his 22.7 yards per catch.

• Brown ranks first nationally this season with his six catches of at least 40 yards (next highest total is four), his four receptions of at least 50 yards and his two grabs of at least 60 yards. His long receiving plays this season have gone for 75 yards (TD), 65 yards (TD), 58 yards (TD), 50 yards (TD), 48 yards and 40 yards (TD).

• Since the start of the 2017 season, Brown leads the nation with his 11 catches of at least 50 yards. The next highest total among active players is seven (four players). The 11 grabs for Brown have gone for 87, 84, 77, 75, 66, 65, 58, 56, 52, 50 and 50 yards. Eight of those 11 receptions have resulted in a touchdown.

• Brown has started his OU career with 81 catches for 1,639 yards (20.2 average) and 12 TDs. His 1,639 receiving yards are 305 more than the Sooner with the second most yards in the first 18 games of a career (Jalen Saunders tallied 1,334 in 2012 and ’13 as a junior and senior). Brown’s 12 receiving TDs are the second most in school history through 18 games (Ryan Broyles had 14).

OU’S 1-2 LINEBACKING PUNCH

• No duo in the country averages more tackles per game than Oklahoma sophomore Kenneth Murray and redshirt senior Curtis Bolton. Both linebackers, Murray ranks sixth nationally (first in the Big 12) with his 12.8 tackles per outing, while Bolton is tied for eighth nationally (third in Big 12) with 12.4. 

• Over the last two games, Murray has an astounding 45 tackles while Bolton has 40. The 85 combined stops are the most over back-to-back games by an FBS duo since at least 2012 (next most is 72 by Kent State’s Nick Cuthbert [37] and Kevin Bourne [35] in 2016). It’s also the most by a Big 12 duo since at least 2003. The next highest back-to-back total this year is 64 by New Mexico State’s Javahn Ferguson (39) and Leon McQuaker (25).

• Murray has 64 tackles on the year, which is just 14 shy of his total last season when he started all 14 games, earned freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America and USA Today, and was co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. What makes Murray’s 2018 tackle total even more astounding is the fact that he registered zero stops in the season opener against Florida Atlantic. Over the last four games, he is averaging 16.0 tackles. Included was a 28-tackle effort against Army which, according to available stats, is an OU record and the most by an FBS player since at least 2000 (when the NCAA began tracking the record).

• Amazingly, Bolton’s 62 tackles are 46 more than he had in his career (16) entering the year. Playing primarily on special teams and battling injuries prior to this season, his five career starts have all come in 2018.

HERE’S THE KICKER

• Senior kicker/punter Austin Seibert ranks second in OU career scoring with 405 points and needs 45 points to tie kicker Michael Hunnicutt (2011-14) for the school record of 450. He ranks sixth in all-time Big 12 scoring and needs nine points to tie Texas Tech running back Taurean Henderson (2002-05) for fifth place. Seibert needs 46 points to tie the Big 12 career scoring record of 406, held by Baylor’s Aaron Jones (2010-13) and TCU’s Jaden Oberkrom (2012-15).

• With his 405 points, Seibert is tied for 22nd place in FBS history among kickers. He needs two points to move into the top 20. The record is 494 points by Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez (2013-16).

• Seibert ranks first at OU and second in the Big 12 in career extra points made (255), and needs 19 to tie the conference record of 274 held by Baylor’s Jones.

• For the third straight season, Seibert is handling OU’s placekicking, punting and kickoff duties. He is one of just three players nationally this season to lead his team in each (San Jose State’s Bryce Crawford and Rice’s Jack Fox). 

• Seibert also ranks second at OU in career field goals made (50) and PAT percentage (.985; 255-259), fourth in career field goal percentage (.758; 50-66) and fifth in career punting average (41.9).

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL

• Special teams have been a major positive for the Sooners through five games. Among teams with at least 10 kickoff returns this season, OU ranks sixth nationally with its 28.6 average. That’s thanks largely to sophomore cornerback Tre Brown, who ranks fifth in the country with his 32.8-yard average. He has compiled 197 yards on six returns, including an 86-yarder in the first quarter vs. UCLA that set up the tying touchdown after OU fell behind 7-0.

• Among teams with at least eight punt returns, OU ranks 19th nationally with its 14.5 average. Sophomore receiver CeeDee Lamb is averaging 12.6 yards on his seven returns, thanks largely to a 66-yard runback vs. UCLA. Redshirt junior receiver Lee Morris has one return for 28 yards. 

• Last year, OU ranked 98th nationally in kick return average (19.3 yards) and 97th in punt return average (5.6). 

• Opponents have only returned three punts this season and they have gone for a combined -1 yard (third fewest in nation). OU also registered its first blocked punt since 2013 in the opener against Florida Atlantic, and it resulted in its first blocked punt TD since 2002. Morris registered the block and Curtis Bolton fell on the ball in the end zone.

• Senior kicker/punter Austin Seibert is 32 for 32 on PATs this season after going 81 for 81 last year. His streak of 125 makes going back to 2016 is the third longest in the nation. Thirty-five of his 37 kickoffs this season have resulted in touchbacks (his 94.6 percent rate is second best in the nation), and he has a current streak of 23 touchbacks.

Tre Brown

RILEY’S FAST START

• The Football Bowl Subdivision’s youngest head coach (33) at the time of his hiring, Lincoln Riley became just the fifth mentor in FBS history with no previous head-coaching experience at a four-year college to win at least 12 games in his debut season. The previous record for wins by a first-year OU head coach was 10 by Chuck Fairbanks in 1967 and Barry Switzer in 1973. Switzer holds the Sooners’ record for most wins in his first two seasons as head coach (21 in 1973-74). Riley, who turned 35 on Sept. 5, needs four more wins in 2018 to tie the mark. He was the second-youngest FBS head coach entering this season.

OFFENSE HAS ROLLED UNDER RILEY

• Oklahoma has a legitimate claim as the nation’s most productive offense since the start of the 2015 season, which was Lincoln Riley’s first year as OU’s offensive coordinator. Riley called plays as the program’s offensive coordinator and continues to as head coach.

• Since the start of the 2015 season, OU ranks first nationally in passing efficiency rating (190.7; next closest is 161.2), completion percentage (69.4), points per game (44.7), total offense (551.9), touchdowns from scrimmage (255) and yards per pass attempt (10.7), and is fifth in passing offense (328.7) and 17th in rushing offense (223.2).

• In 45 games since the start of the 2015 season, OU has registered at least 500 yards of total offense 32 times, including in 22 of the last 29 outings, topped the 600-yard mark on 16 occasions and gone over 700 yards four times. Similarly, OU has scored at least 30 points in 39 of 45 games during the Riley regime, at least 40 points 29 times, at least 50 points 17 times and at least 60 points seven times.

• Four of OU’s top five single-game total offense figures since 2000, and six of the top nine have come since the start of the 2015 season (1. 854 at Texas Tech in 2016; 2. 785 at Oklahoma State in 2017; 3. 773 vs. Tulsa in 2015; 5. 710 at Kansas in 2015; 7. 684 vs. Iowa State in 2015; 9. 676 vs. UTEP in 2017).

• The Sooners have posted a 39-6 (.867) record since Riley’s OU debut (27-2 in Big 12 play). That record is fourth best in the country since the start of 2015. Only Alabama (46-3), Clemson (45-4) and Ohio State (40-5) have better records during that span.

GOING FOR BIG 12 FOUR-PEAT

• If Oklahoma wins the 2018 Big 12 title, it will mark the program’s fourth straight league crown. The last time the Sooners won four consecutive conference championships was 1984-87 under head coach Barry Switzer. 

• Oklahoma is the only program to win three straight Big 12 titles, and it has done so twice (also from 2006-08). Baylor (2013-14) is the only other program to win two Big 12 championships in a row.

• The last Power Five program to win four straight outright league titles was Florida from 1993 through 1996.

SOONERS HAVE DOMINATED BIG 12 ERA

• OU’s performance in the Big 12 Conference this millennium has been nothing short of dominant. The Sooners have won 11 Big 12 titles in the last 17 seasons, with no other program during that span winning more than two.

• Since the first year of the Big 12 in 1996, OU has claimed 11 league titles and is followed by Texas (three), Baylor, Kansas State and Nebraska (two each), and Colorado, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas AM (one each).

• OU is 126-27 (.824) in regular season Big 12 play since the start of the 2000 season. That’s 21 more wins than the program with the next most victories during that period (Texas; 105-48) and 38 more than the program with the third most (Oklahoma State; 87-66).

EXTRA POINTS 

• ESPN College GameDay will air from Dallas on Saturday, marking the 34th time the show will have been on hand for a game involving Oklahoma. Only Ohio State (43 times), Alabama (41) and Florida (37) have been featured more often than OU. The Sooners are 23-10 in such games, including 3-2 in Red River Shootouts. This marks College GameDay’s first appearance at the OU-Texas game since 2011, a 55-17 Sooners win.

• In 300 minutes of play this season (plus an overtime period), OU has trailed for 1 minute, 39 seconds (UCLA led 7-0). 

• OU ranks second nationally (first among Power Five teams) in plays of at least 40 yards (14), 50 yards (eight) and 60 yards (five) this season.

• The Sooners have been disruptive behind the line of scrimmage, recording 39 tackles for loss (7.8 average) to rank 20th nationally. Last year, OU averaged 5.4 TFLs per game. OU’s 15 sacks this season have come from eight players.

• Since the start of the 2017 season, Oklahoma is averaging 26.9 points in the first half. It has scored at least 20 first-half points in 17 of 19 games, and at least 28 points in 10 of those contests.

• OU committed just 13 turnovers last year (six interceptions and seven fumbles lost), or less than one per game. That marked the second-lowest total in school history (11 in 2008). It has three total turnovers in five games this season. OU’s 16 turnovers since the start of the 2017 campaign are tied for fifth fewest nationally.

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