Breakdown of OU offense vs. UT defense: Don't expect the OU offense to just show up and dominate an aggressive UT defense.
OU must hit Colt McCoy and hit him hard. They made Baylor's freshman QB Robert Griffin squeamish with punishing but legal blows. McCoy might be bigger, stronger, faster and more aggressive, but he won't be any more elusive than Griffin or UW's Jake Locker. The challenge of playing against McCoy is he's got a lot more spunk, leadership, surrounding cast, experience and proven duel-threat capability than the other two.
It is vital that the front four push the pocket but also be disciplined playing with the system. And the system calls for controlled pass-rushing and staying in your gaps/lanes thus not creating huge seams for McCoy to bolt through.
On the opposite side...aside for the turnover issue (9 of the past ten winners have had the least turnovers), I believe the second key might be the big and promoted Sooner O-line vs. the quick and nation-leading UT front four/front seven. UT leads the nation in sacks using its athleticism, scheme and significantly improved energy brought in with the addition of new DC Will Muschamp.
The fiery former LSU/Auburn DC has worked for two of the best defensive minds in the business in the business-Nick Saban and Tommy Tubberville. Mack Brown hit the jackpot with this hire, much like he did when he brought in the flopping ISU Head Coach Gene Chizak. Mushcamp won't be in Austin long, although he is already become somewhat of a cult hero and more popular with many UT fans than head coach Mack Brown.
Muschamp has a gifted front seven and gifted trio of LBs playing at breakneck speed and will be a major challenge for OU. The Sooners must account for blitzers, effectively run block and not allow the disruptive push UT has gotten on QBs.
Sam Bradford must have the time, the vision and maximum cup protection to exploit OU's advantage it has with its multiple receivers against the weakness of the UT defense: it's secondary.
The Horns will play their typical press coverage with their coverage and often bring their two freshman safeties closer to the box. They will create an inordinate number of incompletions, stops on OU's bread and butter bubble screens and make it tough on the run game.
However, that means given enough time and given that OU's receivers can shake free from the corners, Bradford will have a few shots at big plays. If he takes advantage of this and consistently makes Muschamp pay with frequent blitzes with hots and high percentage completions, OU should put some points on the board.
Matchup advantage: Slightly OU's offense but closer than most might think.
We'll take a look at the OU defense vs. the UT offense and then special teams a little later.
3 days and counting till one of the most anticipated matchups in my 34 years of involvement in this palm-sweating series.