Dallas is home to the biggest college football matchup of the week with Texas playing Oklahoma in a game with Big 12 Conference and Bowl Championship Series implications.
The No. 2 Sooners (4-0, 1-0) have beaten the No. 5 Longhorns (4-0, 1-0) in the past four Red River Shootouts, including a lopsided 65-13 win last year when Texas was No. 11 in the nation and Oklahoma was No. 1.
“I’m responsible for the last four years,” Texas coach Mack Brown said Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “I need to do a better job with our team and they need to play better.”
Running back Cedric Benson, the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, heads a powerful Longhorns offense. Benson leads the conference in rushing yards (746), scoring (48 points) and touchdowns scored (8), and is second in all-purpose yards (784).
Despite trailing the Sooners in the national rankings, Texas has the top offense and defense in the conference and quarterback Vince Young is the second-highest rated passer with a 158.3.
“We’re not as talented as we’ve been, we’re not as old as we’ve been, but this team expects to win,” Brown said.
Oklahoma safety Brodney Pool, the conference defensive player of the week, and the Oklahoma defense will look to shut down the Longhorns. Pool had 13 tackles and two interceptions in the Sooners’ 28-13 win against Texas Tech.
On the offensive side of the ball, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jason White, leads the Sooners, who also boast running back Adrian Peterson. He has rushed for 136.5 yards per game with six touchdowns.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops said after watching tape of Texas he thinks both teams have not used their full game plans, saving some surprises for Saturday.
“I’m sure there’s quite a bit that’s been saved up,” Stoops said. “But don’t worry, we’ve saved up quite a bit too on both sides of the ball.”
Although this may be the most important game of the regular season for both teams, Brown said that as a top team, playing for a BCS spot, every game is critical.
“At OU and Texas every game is a must win because we’re all trying to win the national championship,” he said.
The Kansas-Kansas State game has not been much of a rivalry in the past decade, Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino said.
The Wildcats have won the past 11 meetings, with the Jayhawks’ most recent win coming in 1992 in Big 8 Conference play.
“We haven’t held up our end of the bargain in this rivalry thing for a long time,” Mangino said.
The Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) have struggled this year, though, and Kansas’ defense poses a threat to stop Big 12 all-purpose yards leader Darren Sproles (870), Kansas State’s running back and kick returner.
Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said he has been concerned with the intensity level of his team, but in the 42-30 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday, the players showed more passion in the second half.
Mangino said his team will look to revive the in-state rivalry by putting an end to the losing streak.
“I think over the years it has lost some of its edge, the game itself, the way it has been viewed,” he said. “It hasn’t made fans jump out of their socks and say, ‘We have to watch this game.’”
RISE OF THE SOUTH:
In addition to Big 12 South teams, Texas and Oklahoma, Oklahoma State is also ranked in the top 25 at No. 22 and Texas A&M has been receiving votes. No team in the Big 12 North is in the top 25, with Missouri receiving the most votes.
Oklahoma State coach Les Miles said he would like to see more parity in the conference schedule.
“I think what you should do, is you should break up the teams that have monopolies,” he said. “You should spread the talent around a little bit more.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he does not see a trend, but rather a season where teams in the South division simply happen to be better than in the North. Pinkel said it is an advantage to the Tigers, giving them a better chance to make the conference championship game.
“Obviously that’s exciting for everyone in our division because of the opportunities that are there,” he said.