One of college football's streakiest rivalries could provide the Texas Longhorns with a crystal ball for their immediate future - are the huge offseason changes made by Mack Brown and the young faces in the backfield already primed to return Texas to its 10-wins-at-worst ways, or is the shadow of last year's 5-7 finish still looming?
Oklahoma is deep, experienced and a national title contender once again, but they're without a signature win that would give the Sooners an argument alongside LSU and Alabama. OU's defense is far superior to anything MalcomBrown, Case McCoy and David Ash have seen this year, and quarterback Landry Jones has quietly kept pace in the Heisman campaign alongside his star receiver Ryan Broyles.
The gang at Crimson And Cream Machine are banking on this year's Red River being just as intimidating to newcomers as in so many other years past, as the Texas offense is littered with freshman at the skill positions:
Texas is REALLY young. Now in a year or two, if they're able to actually develop some of this young talent unlike in years past, you may find this on the "reasons to be worried" list but for this game, the 'confidence' list is where it belongs.
Look, if you hear any former player (on either side) talk about this game you know when they say "there is nothing else like it" that it's not just lip service. The feeling they get when they walk through that south end zone tunnel and down that ramp is something that is felt in only one spot on this big blue planet. So obviously for all these freshman that Texas is playing it will be their first experience in this unrivaled atmosphere. To think that and the experience advantage OU has doesn't play in our favor would either be sheer arrogance (from Texas?!? Surely you jest!) or flat out denial.
And while the Longhorns' very young offense is certainly a concern for Texas fans, so is Oklahoma's refined scoring attack, something Burn Orange Nation points out has to be limited for the Horns to hang with OU:
The OU offense is a tempo offense, and with arguably the best receiving corps in the nation and a quarterback who will pick you apart when he's comfortable, preventing Jones from getting in a rhythm is essential to Texas' defensive game plan on Saturday. Unfortunately, that's a particularly daunting task because if you have to sell out and bring extra defenders to create pressure you're almost assured to pay with big plays. Although Manny Diaz's game plan is sure to center on preventing big plays, he also assuredly knows how important it will be to disrupt Landry Jones' and the OU offense's rhythm.
Diaz will surely bring extra pressure situationally, but what matters is whether we're able to get to Jones with five rushers. If so, Jones is susceptible to mistakes and the OU offense can sputter. But if not -- if Jones is throwing comfortably from the pocket -- we're going to have a very difficult time getting them off the field.
Game date, time: 11:00 AM CT, Saturday October 7
Location: The Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Oklahoma favored by 10.5.
Series History: Texas leads 59-41-5
For more information on The Red River Shootout, visit Burnt Orange Nation and Crimson And Cream Machine. Check out this week's entire college football schedule here, and visit SB Nation's college football news hub for updates.