Last year, it was Adrian Peterson’s effectiveness and Texas’ inability to run the ball that proved decisive in the game. Peterson had his national coming out party against the Horns, plowing for 240 yards and vaulting himself into the Heisman mix as a true freshman. For the year, he racked up 163 yards per game, having one of the great freshman rushing seasons of all time.
Peterson and the OU rushing attack are not quite the same as last year, though. For one, it’s a different offensive line and, as Andrew noted, a banged up one. For another, Peterson himself has had ankle problems. Still, Texas fans should take note that after Peterson sprained his ankle at the end of the TCU game, he bounced back against Tulsa and erupted for 222 yards.
Peterson is fast, but he’s very physical, too. He keeps his legs moving extraordinarily well and will not go down to arm tackles. Texas will need to tackle better than they did against Missouri if they want to keep Peterson in check. Peterson benefited tremendously from the outstanding 2004 OU offensive line, but make no mistake about it, he’s the real deal. Texas should not take his relatively slower start to mean he’s easy to stop. Still, his ankle will be something to keep an eye on.
If Peterson can’t go, Oklahoma will turn to Kejuan Jones, who’s scored a touchdown against Texas in each of the past three years. He’s no Peterson, but he’s a solid, physical runner.
For Texas, we’ll get to see if Mack Brown and Greg Davis understand the jewel that they have in Jamaal Charles. The three-pronged running attack with Charles, Selvin Young, and Henry Melton should be put on hold unless Texas opens up a big lead. So long as the game remains competitive, Charles should be in the game, save short yardage situations when we want to bring in the tank.
We’ve praised Jamaal Charles extensively, so it’s no secret we want to see him featured prominently. Peterson was better than Cedric Benson was last year. We think Jamaal Charles is Adrian Peterson’s equal, and perhaps superior, because of his additional receiving skills.
With that said, Peterson’s done it in the Shootout before, so we’ll call it a draw.