Five questions facing No. 22 Texas on Saturday against Oklahoma:
1. Will the offensive line keep the Sooners away from Sam Ehlinger?
Last year, Oklahoma had a field day at the State Fair. In defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s first Red River Showdown game, the Sooners sacked Ehlinger nine times in a 34-27 win. That tied a school record at Oklahoma. Texas hadn’t allowed that many sacks since 2009. Of those nine sacks, four were recorded by players who are still at OU. Three of Texas’ five starting linemen, though, also are back — Samuel Cosmi, Derek Kerstetter and Junior Angilau. Through three games, OU has six sacks and Ehlinger has been sacked twice.
2. Will a Sooners freshman have a big Red River Showdown debut?
Two Oklahoma freshmen will introduce themselves to both Texas fans and the Texas defense. Seth McGowan currently leads the Sooners with 181 rushing yards and two touchdown runs. Marvin Mims is averaging 13.1 yards over the first 11 catches of his collegiate career. Both McGowan and Mims were four-star recruits that Oklahoma recruited out of the Dallas area. Oklahoma last had a freshman rush for 100 yards against Texas in 2007 (DeMarco Murray). The last freshman to record a 100-yard receiving effort against Texas was Antwone Savage in 1999.
3. Who will lead the Longhorns linebackers?
Technically, Texas placed a linebacker on the Big 12’s preseason team. Junior Joseph Ossai, though, doesn’t really count since he plays more off of the line as the “Jack” in Chris Ash’s defense. So, who’s left in the linebackers corps? DeMarvion Overshown, a converted safety, has 13 tackles and three pass breakups. Juwan Mitchell, who was ejected for a targeting penalty last week, has seven stops. And Cort Jaquess has transformed from a member of the scout team into a valuable asset on the defense. Which of these linebackers steps up on Saturday?
4. Can Texas limit the big plays?
Texas has been beaten in three of its last four trips to the Cotton Bowl, and there’s been a common thread in those defeats. In its three one-score wins, Oklahoma scored four times on a play that covered more than 50 yards — 51-, 54-, 59- and 71-yard scoring plays, and Dede Westbrook added 42- and 47-yard catches to his 232-yard day in 2016. Even in its 2018 regular-season victory, Texas surrendered a 77-yard touchdown pass and a 67-yard touchdown run. Oklahoma is still looking for its first 25-yard run of the fall, but three Sooners have recorded a 50-yard catch.
5. Does either Cameron Dicker or Gabe Brkic have a say in Saturday’s final score?
Just a few years ago, Dicker the Kicker earned himself a spot in Longhorns lore when he booted a 40-yard field goal with nine seconds left in a 48-45 win. Since that kick, he’s made 27 of his 38 attempts. One of those was a 57-yarder against Rice at NRG Stadium. His OU counterpart also has an impressive leg. As a redshirt freshman last year, Brkic made all 17 of his field goals and all 52 of his extra points. He was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award. Brkic has missed a 54-yard try this year, but one of his three makes was from 51.