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Dean's Keys to the Red River Rivalry

The head coaches meet after the game for a handshake. (AP) The head coaches meet after the game for a handshake. (AP)

Originally Published: Oct 14, 2009 8:41 PM CDT

Oklahoma Sports Staff

There is a lot on the line in Saturday’s Red River Rivalry showdown. Before the contest, Oklahoma Sports Oklahoma City Sports Director Dean Blevins gives us his keys to the game.

1. OU’s offensive line play

This inexperienced group has been a weakness. Losing left guard Brian Simmons to injury, who was considered the second best up front, adds more stress. The defensive front of Texas has been its most pleasant surprise. They’ve been terrific against the run and disruptive against the pass. Throw in a myriad of blitz packages from the backend, and it’s a tough matchup for OU. Their job is simple: give Sam Bradford time to throw and do its part in helping establish some semblance of a run game.

2. Who makes most explosive plays?

This is a series full of games dominated by momentum swings. Explosive plays of 20-yards or more will play an integral part in determining the outcome.

Last year Jordan Shipley’s kickoff return for a touchdown shifted momentum away from the Sooners, and turned the game for Texas. Shipley and D.J. Monroe have each returned two kicks for touchdowns.

Dominique Franks is one of OU’s fastest player’s and is becoming a return game threat. Most of the explosive plays will come in the pass game.

Both teams excel at the quick pass game, which puts an emphasis on tackling in the open field. Texas successfully matched up Shipley on OU’s young middle linebacker Austin Box, who replaced star Ryan Reynolds.

Demarco Murray is the best runner on the field and will also play some in the slot giving him lots of touches and chances to make those critical explosive plays.

3. Turnovers

My favorite stat is simple, tried and true. The team with the fewest turnovers wins 80 percent of the time. Odds-makers have Texas as a three-point favorite which makes the turnover battle that much more important.

It’s safe to say that if one team has two or more turnovers than the other, that team will lose. In this game, my guess is that you can look for turnovers coming mostly on blitz hits on the quarterback, and in the kicking game.

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