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Thursday, October 11, 2012
Five storylines: Texas vs. Oklahoma

By Brandon Chatmon

On Saturday, Oklahoma and Texas will meet in a game that is critical for each team’s hope of winning a Big 12 title. It also happens to be one of college football’s best rivalries.

The Sooners face the Longhorns at 11 a.m. CT at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on Saturday morning:

1. Who wins the turnover battle?
In every Red River Rivalry game since 2005, the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. Sooners fans understand, maybe a little too well, how critical the turnover battle can be. In OU’s loss to Kansas State, the Sooners turned over the ball three times and didn't force any Wildcats turnovers, which factored heavily into the upset.

Quarterback Landry Jones and the OU offense will have to take care of the ball, while the Sooners defense will need to force at least one turnover for OU to be successful.

2. Does OU’s offense have some surprises in store for Texas?
It’s hard to believe the Sooners have used every offensive play and package at their disposal this season. If they have, they didn’t spend the offseason being creative.

OU has several potential playmakers on its offense and needs to take advantage of all of them. Whether it’s Damien Williams' receiving ability, Sterling Shepard's open-field excellence, Kenny Stills' speed or Roy Finch's explosiveness, the Sooners' offensive coaches need to leave no stone unturned Saturday.

3. Can the Sooners stop the run?
OU’s defensive interior has been under fire this season as the Sooners have struggled to disrupt offenses with penetration. The spotlight will be on Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland as Texas tries to dominate the line of scrimmage and run the football.

If OU can make the Longhorns one-dimensional, the Sooners have a much better chance of stopping them.

4. How aggressive will Mike Stoops be?
The lack of a pass rush has been an underlying problem for OU this season, so don’t be surprised if the Sooners blitz the Longhorns quite a bit.

Texas sophomore David Ash has played much better than he did as a freshman. He has proven himself as poised and confident this year, completing 77.5 percent of his passes. But OU will look to rattle him nd take him out of his comfort zone.

5. Can Jalen Saunders have an impact?
The midweek clearance of Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders, a junior receiver, might not have a major impact on this game. But Saunders has the skills to make a major impact -- if the Sooners can use him in special situations.

Regardless, his short-term impact will be limited since he has spent a major portion of the early season on the scout team. But he worked out with the first- and second-teamers in August and has proved to be one of the better playmakers on the roster. While he might not be an important part of OU’s game plan against Texas, there’s a good chance he becomes a key contributor on offense this season.