Football

Texas vs. Oklahoma: Five key matchups to watch

Posted October 11th, 2019

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Here are five key matchups to watch Saturday in the 115th installment of the Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl.

OU quarterback Jalen Hurts vs. Texas nickel back B.J. Foster

Foster raised eyebrows on Tuesday when he praised Hurts’ running and passing ability. He also said the Horns had “seen some bad things” in Hurts’ game. While Foster didn’t elaborate, he said the OU quarterback was likely to get those things fixed before kickoff. As UT’s nickel back and hardest hitter, Foster can’t wait to get a crack at Hurts. OU coaches remember Foster, too. He was the one chasing Grant Calcaterra into the end zone during the Big 12 title game. Tacklers who miss get burned by Hurts. He’s averaging 99.8 rushing yards per game.

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EDGE: Oklahoma

Texas defensive back B.J. Foster (25) intercepts a pass intended for West Virginia wide receiver Sean Ryan (18) in the second half at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, W.V., on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. The visiting Longhorns won, 42-31. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images/TNS)

Texas receiver Devin Duvernay vs. Oklahoma secondary

In last year’s Big 12 championship game, the Sooners lost track of Lil’Jordan Humphrey in the slot. He finished with seven catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Humphrey’s numbers are minuscule compared to the damage Duvernay is doing. The senior is averaging 10.3 yards per catch and has four touchdowns. Patrick Fields and Delarrin Turner-Yell, along with corners Tre Brown and Parnell Motley, know full well what Duvernay is capable of. OU’s pass defense ranks third in the Big 12. The Sooners allow almost 200 yards per game.

EDGE: Texas

Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay (6) makes a catch against Oklahoma cornerback Parnell Motley st the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Oct 14, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb vs. Texas secondary

Duvernay is spectacular. So is Lamb, a star who has caught at least one touchdown pass in OU’s last seven games. In three career games against the Horns, Lamb has 15 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Texas’ secondary is young overall, but the group is gaining confidence. Cornerback D’Shawn Jamison had two interceptions last week against West Virginia. Fellow corner Anthony Cook had seven tackles. Texas is susceptible on the back end, especially with no consistent pass rush from its defensive line.

EDGE: Oklahoma

Texas defensive back Josh Thompson (29) tackles Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (2) on the kick off in the second quarter during Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX Saturday, December 1, 2018. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Texas left tackle Sam Cosmi vs. OU defensive end Ronnie Perkins

Cosmi invited attention when he said Tuesday that OU’s defensive line wasn’t “super special. But they’re good players, they’re solid players. But not anything to worry about too much.” Perkins tried to downplay it with OU reporters. “I don’t really pay attention to the trash talk,” he said. “He can catch me at 11 a.m. in Dallas with the rest of the Texas football team.” Cosmi loves a fight. This will be a brawl. Perkins has seven career sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Watch if OU sends extra rushers through UT’s left side to overrun Cosmi and Parker Braun with numbers.

EDGE: Even

Texas offensive lineman Samuel Cosmi (52) holds up the “Hook ‘Em Horns” gesture after Texas defeated West Virginia 42-31 in an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Morgantown, W. Va. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Texas play-caller Tom Herman vs. OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch

The statistics would say that this year’s OU defense is a vast improvement over last year’s embarrassment. Kudos to Grinch, who came to OU in January after serving as the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State. The Sooners have piled up 13 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. Herman is 2-2 as a head coach against OU. Texas is averaging 41.8 points per game, an even higher total than the 2009 season (39.3). Expect the Horns to push the pace, put the Sooners on their heels.

EDGE: Texas

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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