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Texas Longhorns 2021 Opponent Preview: Oklahoma

The Longhorns head back to the Cotton Bowl for one of the biggest rivalries in college football

Whether one calls home the Lone Star State or the Sooner State, everyone enjoys the Red River Showdown. In 2021, fans will back at full capacity in the historic Cotton Bowl will be filled to the brim as both sides look to win the Golden Hat. 

Texas is hopeful with new head coach Steve Sarkisian, the office will be able to live up to standards that mirror Oklahoma. Lincoln Riley thought will not be going out without a fight, and he has the offense set to produce big numbers all season. 

The attention of course will be on Spencer Rattler, who currently seems to be a favorite to be a top draft choice in 2022. After throwing for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns last fall, he'll look to put up video game numbers in a full season. 

That, plus becoming the third Heisman-winning quarterback since 2017 has to be on his mind. 

The schools will meet for the 117th time since the game has been played. Texas holds the all-time record (62–49–5), but the Sooners are on a three-game winning streak and hold the momentum. 

Does Texas have what it takes to finally be back on the winning side of the greatest rivalry in Big 12 history? 

Check out the first part of Longhorns Country's way-too-early preview of Louisiana, Arkansas, Rice, Texas Tech and TCU. 

READ MORE: Longhorns Recruiting Tracker: Elite Edge Rusher Justice Finkley Names Longhorns in Top 3


2021 Record: 9-2 (6-2 in Big 12)

Head coach: Lincoln Riley 

Riley is 37-8 since taking over the program in 2019 

Offensive Set: Multiple, air-raid passing attack

Defensive Set: 4-2-5

Returning starters on Offense: 6

Oklahoma has the main position set with Rattler returning for another year. The Sooners also will be adding depth to the backfield with former Tennessee running back Eric Gray joining the forces. Leading receiver Marvin Mims is set to return and the Sooners will have three of the five starters on the offensive line back in action too. 

Mims and fellow starter Theo Wease combined last season for 13 of Rattler's 28 touchdowns. 

Projected starters on Offense:

QB Spencer Rattler*

RB Kennedy Brooks 

WR (Z) Marvin Mims*

WR (X) Theo Wease *

WR (Y) Jadon Haselwood

H-Back Austin Stogener 

LT Wanya Morris Jr. 

LG Marquis Haynes*

C Andrew Raym 

RG Tyrese Robinson*

RT Erik Swenson*

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Returning starters on Defense: 8

Alex Grinch's core will need to replace little this offseason. Ronnie Perkins and Tre Brown are headed to the NFL, but eight key names will return to Norman for the start of the 2021 season. Led by Nik Bonitto and Delarrin Turner-Yell, the Sooners' defense will look to be another top-three unit in the conference for the second straight year. 

Projected starters on Defense:

DE Isaiah Thomas 

NT Perrion Winfrey* 

DT LaRon Stokes*

RUSH Nik Bonitto*

LB Brian Asamoah*

LB DaShaun White*

CB Jaden Davis*

CB Woodi Washington*

SS Delarrin Turner-Yell*

FS Pat Fields*

NB Jeremiah Criddell 

READ MORE: Longhorns QB1? Maalik Murphy Is Ready For The Challenge

Newcomers to Know:

RB Eric Gray

Gray led the Vols on the ground last year with 772 rushing yards and an average of 4.9 yards per play. A bigger back in brute strength, the Memphis native has a similar frame to that of OU legend DeMarco Murray. 

A pairing between Gray and Kennedy Brooks might be the combination for OU to claim the title of best offense come season's end. 

OT Wanya Morris Jr. 

Another Tennessee player joining the squad in Norman, Morris was one of the highest commits to pledge his loyalty to Knoxville. A five-star prospect from Loganville, Georgia, he played in 22 games and made 19 starts in his two seasons with the team. 

The Sooners are expecting him to come in right away and play left tackle, an area who worked well at during his time in the SEC. 

DL LaRon Stokes 

Although a transfer last season, it will be interesting to see his role expand in 2021. The former JUCO star was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, recording 15 tackles including 4.5 tackles for loss. Last season, he missed time due to injury, but still played in eight total games. 

Perkins' loss is one that could be replaceable with Stokes, but his frame and size might suit him better as a pass-rusher up the middle. 

CONTINUE READING: Texas' Ramey Withdraws From NBA Draft, Returning for Senior Year

Who do you like in the Red River Showdown this year? Comment and join in on the discussion below!

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