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NFL Draft

Red River Showdown: All Eyes Will Be On Sam Ehlinger

  • The Draft Network
  • October 9, 2020
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The Red River Showdown. It’s the name of a game that speaks for itself, as Texas and Oklahoma clash in the Cotton Bowl for their latest meeting. This year’s game has a bit of a different feel to it, though. The Sooners, who are 0-2 in the Big 12, enter the matchup with their worst conference record since 1988. The Longhorns, who had high expectations despite the circumstances of the season, are fresh off of a loss to in-state rival TCU.

Even though the magnitude and expectations of the game aren’t quite as anticipated, the two still have bad blood with each either. The rivalry between the two schools goes beyond the gridiron as the two are always jockeying for positioning with recruits and supremacy among one another.

All eyes will be on quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Counting the 2018 conference championship game, this will be his fifth time starting against the arch rival. Already accumulating four starts against the Sooners, he recently joined elite company as he became the first signal-caller since Colt McCoy (2006-09) to accomplish that feat. The senior quarterback is in a unique position as he’s seen an embarrassment of riches come and go for the Sooners. From Baker Mayfield to Jalen Hurts, he’s experienced and defeated multiple types. 

On Saturday, he’s aiming to put a bow on his legacy against the rival. In order to go out on top in what is likely his final opportunity against the Sooners, it will not be an easy task. With the program being unranked for the first time ever under head coach Lincoln Riley and an expected elevation in competitive notches due to the rivalry aspect of the game, the heroics of No. 11 will have to be at an all-time high.

This season, Ehlinger has 924 passing yards to go along with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions in three games. He's off to one of the better starts of his career, but it’s no secret that he faced some struggles last week in a loss to TCU. His worst output of the young season as he accumulated a 47.2 percent completion percentage and a season low 236 passing yards on 17 completions. 

The Horned Frogs were adamant about forcing Ehlinger to make tough throws against multiple types of coverage in condensed windows and there were lots of struggles for him to consistently fit the ball in those areas.

The Sooners defense has been far from stellar this season and the five-touchdown performance from Ehlinger in 2018 is still implanted in their mind following the 48-45 defeat. Despite some of his limitations as a passer, Ehlinger can be a headache to gameplan for as he’s frequently involved in the run game as well where he isn’t shy about mixing it up as a runner on various types of schemed plays. 

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch wouldn’t mind a repeat performance of last year where the unit got after Ehlinger, sacking him nine times and being instrumental in the 34-27 victory. With the circumstances being unlike anything that we’ve seen during the tenures of Tom Herman and Lincoln Riley, all eyes will be on the Cotton Bowl to see the always thrilling matchup between the two teams.

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