Ball security key in OU-Texas
Five Wide: Storylines for No. 3 Oklahoma's matchup with No. 11 Texas
For only the second time in seven seasons, Oklahoma and Texas will be undefeated when they meet Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.
Here are five key storylines to follow in the biggest OU-Texas game since 2008:
OU quarterback Landry Jones correctly stated this week that whoever wins the turnover battle likely will win the game.In Texas' victories in 2005, 2006 and 2008, the Longhorns had just one turnover; the Sooners had nine. In 2009, Texas also won the turnover battle, 5-3, and, as a result, the game.[+] EnlargeRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesLandry Jones' fourth-quarter fumble nearly gave Texas a chance for a last-minute comeback in 2010.
In OU's wins in 2007 and 2010, the Sooners didn't commit a single turnover. Texas had four.
Turnovers probably will be the deciding factor in this one, too.
2. Manny Diaz's blitzing
The Texas defensive coordinator plans to unleash an array of exotic blitzes, with the goal, he said, of inflicting pain on Jones.
The Longhorns haven't gotten a lot of sacks this season, but their blitzes have caused several turnovers. Texas ranks seventh in the country in turnover margin.
Protecting Jones will be paramount for the Sooners, and Gabe Ikard, making only his second start at center, will be on the spot to make the right protection checks. OU's relatively inexperienced running backs also will be under the gun in pass protection and can't afford to turn blitzers loose on Jones.
Rookie quarterbacks rarely fare well in the Red River Rivalry, but McCoy and Ash have been playing well since taking over for Garrett Gilbert. Neither has thrown an interception, and they're completing almost 70 percent of their passes.
But this will be a different atmosphere from what they've previously seen, and it's a good bet OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables will be aggressive in trying to force them into mistakes. How they respond could dictate whether Texas is in the game in the fourth quarter.
4. Ryan Broyles
This time around, Broyles is 100 percent. And Diaz has said Texas won't overcommit to stopping Broyles.
Broyles could be in for a big day, which usually translates into a Sooners victory.
5. Michael Hunnicutt
In a bit of a gamble, OU coach Bob Stoops is going with Hunnicutt as his field goal kicker, even though Hunnicutt made his debut just this past weekend and Jimmy Stevens has recovered from a muscle pull. Stoops said Hunnicutt kicked the ball well, but he did miss a 30-yarder against Ball State and needed a lucky bounce off the upright to convert his 44-yard try.
Stevens' kicks haven't always been pretty, but he was effective down the stretch last season, and he made a trio of critical field goals last month to help OU beat Florida State. Should Hunnicutt stumble, Stoops almost surely will be second-guessed.
Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation.
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