Sooners need second big game from Murray

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
10:15
AM ET
Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray has carried the ball 12 times in the past two Red River Rivalry games. Those 12 carries have gone for a total of 3 yards.

Oklahoma lost both games.

As a freshman, Murray ran for 128 yards on 17 carries, picking up a big block of yardage on a 65-yard go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.

Oklahoma won that game.

[+] EnlargeDeMarco Murray
Jim Owens/Icon SMIDeMarco Murray already has seven rushing touchdowns this season.
Maybe it's not that simple. Or maybe it is. Either way, a big day from Murray certainly helps the chances of a big day for Oklahoma, especially in the Red River Rivalry, where the team with more rushing yards has won the Golden Hat on 11 consecutive occasions.

That looked more likely in the season opener against Utah State, when Murray handled a heavy load of 35 carries and turned them into 208 yards, both career highs.

"DeMarco, he honestly looks like he did as a freshman, now that he's fully healthy," said Oklahoma center Ben Habern.

But Murray's nearly six-yard average per carry in the season opener has dwindled to just 3.2 in his last three games, dipping to a season low of 2.4 on his 28 carries last week against Cincinnati. Texas entered last week as the nation's No. 1 rush defense, but when the Longhorns faced a team in UCLA that intended to run at the center of their defense, they gave up over 300 yards on the ground.

"That's irrelevant," Murray said. "I know they had a little hiccup last week, but I know they'll be fired up to play this game just like we will. They could be 0-5 and we could be 0-5 and we'd both be ready to play our best game of the year this week. It doesn't matter, last week."

Texas has shut down Murray the last two seasons with a handful of would-be NFL draft picks on its defensive line, such as Sergio Kindle, Lamarr Houston, Brian Orakpo, Roy Miller and Henry Melton, along with linebackers such as Roddrick Muckelroy.

"They've definitely had good players, but we've had pretty good guys, too, NFL guys like Trent [Williams], Phil [Loadholt] and Duke [Robinson]," Habern said.

Murray also suffered an ankle injury in last year's game that kept him out of the following week's game against Kansas.

"It hurt really bad, but I had to be a man and step up," Murray said. "That's one game you definitely don't want to miss."

He's not asking for excuses. All he wants is the ball, and Oklahoma feels its struggles running the ball the past few weeks are about to end.

"The last few weeks, we were only a few holes away from breaking DeMarco and Mossis [Madu] free for big runs," said quarterback Landry Jones.

On Saturday, the Sooners will work toward making sure those holes are there. Otherwise, Texas may leave the Cotton Bowl with a fifth Red River victory in six years.

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