And Texas thought they would never have to stop Baker Mayfield again.
There are a bevy of plots and subplots in play every time Texas and Oklahoma square off in the Red River Rivalry, and this year’s 113th edition of the game, to be played on Saturday afternoon at the venerable Cotton Bowl in Dallas, is no different.
There’s also one given in this year’s game: No. 7 Oklahoma will gain the edge if mercurial dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray is able to do his thing.
Murray has passed for average of 294 yards per game with 17 touchdowns (third in the nation) and just two interceptions, and has added 55 rushing yards per contest with four rushing scores. He’s been the chief architect of the Sooners’ run this year, which has him in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy.
The Sooners (5-0, 2-0) head south to Big D after whipping Baylor 66-33 last Saturday while rolling up 607 total yards on 54 plays, an average of 11.2 yards per snap. Oklahoma also set school records for yards per pass attempt (18.8), yards per completion (25.2) and pass efficiency rating (317.8) in the victory, which was the team’s 27th in their last 28 league games.
Murray said Monday that he’s not deaf to the hype that’s surrounding him but is more focused on the team’s goals.
“Obviously I hear it,” Murray said. “I’ve dreamed of it my whole life, winning the Heisman. But for me, it’s just about winning games and doing what’s right for the team. Individual goals will come along if you do what you do.
The top priority for the 19th-ranked Longhorns (4-1, 2-0 in Big 12 play) is finding a way to stop Murray, who Texas coach Tom Herman has favorably compared to former Sooners signal caller Baker Mayfield, last year’s Heisman winner who was the first pick in the NFL draft.
“The names have changed. I don’t know that the results have at all,” Herman said of Murray and Mayfield. “Maybe the difference is how elite of a runner their quarterback is. They’re still one of, if not the best, offenses in the country. We’ll have our hands full.
“Murray is really good,” Herman added. “The last guy won the Heisman Trophy and was the number one overall pick. So, it’s tough to be better than that. But he poses very, very similar challenges.”
Texas’ defense has been up to the task during its past four games, all wins, which have included victories over No. 22 USC, No. 17 TCU and on the road against Kansas State, 19-14, last Saturday. The Longhorns surrendered just 217 total yards in the win over the Wildcats, the least in the 18-game tenure of Todd Orlando as Texas’ defensive coordinator.
This will be the first time since 2012 that both teams will enter this game ranked in the top 25.
The series, which began in 1900 and predates Oklahoma’s statehood, has been played in Dallas since 1912 and at the State Fair of Texas since 1929.
Since 1900, the only years Texas and Oklahoma have not played were 1918, ’20, ’21 and 1924-28. The first matchup between the two teams in 1900 ended with a 28-2 Longhorns’ victory. Texas is the only Big 12 Conference team that holds an all-time series lead against the Sooners (61-46-5).