Battle for the Big 12 Championship
The Red River Rivalry (2nd Edition for 2018) might never get better than it will tonight. Not only is a deep-seeded rivalry, but now, there’s even more on the line. For Oklahoma, it could be a chance at redemption with the Longhorns taking the most recent rendition. Perhaps more important for Sooners’ fans, could be a spot in the College Football Playoffs, lose and they are out for sure. For Texas, it’s bragging rights and a chance to extend their winning streak over the Sooners.
We’ll be covering all the Power five conference championship games.
The Sooners had expectations at the start of the season, and according to those they have outperformed, if only by a few places. Preseason ranking expectation was for 7th-place, but now they are 5th-place with a legitimate shot at making the College Football Playoff. Not to mention, Sooners would love to get an opportunity to correct the loss from earlier in the season against their rival, Texas.
The Oklahoma offense has been pretty prolific on the season, they average almost 600 combined yards per game. In the passing game they are averaging well over 300 yards per game. Their rushing production averages about 260 yards per game regardless of their location and almost 40 touchdowns.
Passing: The Sooners passing game is putting out well over 300 yards on average, for an almost 4,000 yard season. Their home and away splits are basically nonexistent for yards per game (0.7 yards difference). There are really only minor differences in their passing statistics that are mostly explained by the 2 additional home games played, except for a slight increase in interceptions thrown in road games. They are averaging an almost 70% completion percent rate regardless of venue and nearly 12 yards per completion made.
Rushing: The Oklahoma rushing attack is led by a running back duo that has been dominant this season. The duo, Trey Sermon (SO) and Kennedy Brooks(FR), have 23 touchdowns between them and each are averaging almost 90 rushing yards per game. And we haven’t even gotten to the quarterbacks rushing production which adds another 11 touchdowns and 70 rushing yards per game. On the road they average about a half-yard less per carry (7.15 to 6.75) than at home, but the statistic that will have the most importance to this game. They are scoring double the touchdowns at home (in two more games) from 26 at home to 13 on the road. In the first rendition of this rivalry their rushing production dropped slightly to 220 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Passing: The Sooners have been substantially better at mitigating the opposing teams passing attack at home. On the road they are allowing almost 110 yards per game more as well as nearly 2 additional yards per completion. In two less games on the road, they have allowed more than double the touchdowns and have actually recovered one less interception. The completion rate for the opponent doesnt really have impact by location.
Rushing: The Sooners are averaging about 130 yards allowed on average while they are on the road/neutral site. The last time these teams met they allowed almost 180 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns (to the opposing quarterback). There is a pretty substantial difference between home and away rush defense (55 yards/game). Although they’ve played 2 more games at home, they are averaging 19 TDs allowed at home against 10 on the road. There’s also a small difference between opposing teams rush efficiency, but it’s only about 0.3 yards/carry.
Texas has seemingly come out of nowhere to claim the 14th-place ranking in the nation and an opportunity to bring home a Conference Championship. They’ve put together a 9-3 record this year with losses to Maryland, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia. This is a nice improvement from the 7-6 season last year where the finished unranked but ended the season with a win over the SEC’s Missouri.
The Texas offense is averaging 257 passing yards per game with a 6 yard per game difference for home/road games (254/260). Their rushing game has suffered a substantial drop from 171.3 at home to 141.5 on the road.
Passing: Texas won the shootout the last time these teams matched up at the Cotton Bowl 48-45. Sam Ehlinger put up a 68.5% completion rate for over 300 yards and 2 passing TDs, with another passing touchdown thrown by a receiver to open the scoring for Texas. Texas is averaging a 5% completion rate difference between home/road games (67.4/62.8), but otherwise, most of the other statistical categories are very similar. The Longhorns have thrown 2 more touchdowns (14) on the road than at home (12). The one area the Longhorns have struggled on the road this season is with interceptions, they only have one on the season at home, and they have four on the road.
Rushing: Most of the Texas rushing numbers are very similar all the way down to yards per carry average and touchdowns (1 more at home). In the last matchup with Oklahoma, the Texas run game was pretty stifled — at least for the Longhorns leading rusher, Keaontay Ingram. The leading rusher (by touchdowns) was Sam Ehlinger with 3, although he came up about 15 yards short of Ingram. Ingram actually performs about a yard per carry better on the road, but doesn’t seem to have any luck finding the endzone regardless of location, with only 2 (rushing) touchdowns on the season.
Passing: The Longhorns have really taken solace from being at home, they have a 10% difference in opponent completion percentage, with 64.5% on the road and a 55% at home. In addition, they’ve allowed substantially more passing touchdowns away from home (14) as opposed to at home (6). The defense has also been far less likely to intercept away from home (8 at home, 3 on the road). They allow slightly higher yards per attempt and yards per game, while having less passes attempted against them when on the road. They are averaging a little more than half a sack per game more on the road thana at home, and about 0.2 yards/sack more on the road. In the last meeting, they gave up 310 yards, 4 touchdowns, but were able to grab an interception from Kyler Murray.
Rushing: The Longhorn’s rushing defense has been pretty consistent regardless of where the play allowing 136.5 yards allowed on the season. They allow less (117.8) at home than the do on the road (155) but there’s only a marginal (1 touchdown) difference between them regardless of the additional yardage. They also have faced 8 attempts more per game on average on the road but otherwise there aren’t any significant differences. The last meeting between these two teams, the Texas defense yielded more than 220 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.
The game is played at AT&T Stadium (home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys) in Arlington, Texas with kickoff at 9:00 am PST/Noon EST).
The neutrals are expecting at least 75 points to be put up on the board and, ultimately, Oklahoma to come out on top by roughly a touchdown.
Keys to a win for each side
- Contain the QB. Oklahoma allowed a ridiculous 3 rushing touchdowns by the Texas QB the last time they met. They need to maintain containment on him this time around.
- Maintain play-calling discipline. It’s important that Oklahoma maintain a mix of plays to keep the Longhorns guessing. They were almost 100 rushing yards short of their normal production in the first meeting.
- Keep ‘Em Guessing. The Longhorns had a ton of success in the first meeting with Ehlinger on the goal line. Keeping QB mobility up helps force the Sooners to respect the run (by running back or quarterback), the pass and the play action pass.
- Force the Sooners to be one dimensional. If they are able to reduce the variability in play-calling and allows them to hone in on only one, even if its only a dip in the rush game like we saw in the first rendition.
We’ll be previewing a number of different championship games, you can see them all here!