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October 3, 2004There is no experience like the annual Red River Shootout between Oklahoma and Texas each October in Dallas. The clash of fanbases, and more importantly football teams at the 'halfway' point between the two campuses is one of the truly special events each year in college football.
With such a great environment every year there is lots of fun to be had, and a lot on the line of the football field. However when both teams are ranked in the top five and have seemed destined for a major collision since the schedules were released, the game takes on a slightly more fanatical pitch.
Mix in a couple of Heisman trophy candidates and the 2004 version of the Shootout could be the best match-up on paper ever. While Jason White was busy torching the Texas secondary last year and subsuquently pushing himself to the top of Heisman ballots, Texas running back Cedric Benson was having yet another tough day against the Oklahoma run defense.
With the departures of Tommie Harris, Teddy Lehman, Kory Klein, and most recently Dusty Dvoracek it's safe to say that Benson and the Texas coaching staff have reason to believe they can change the fortunes of his past two games against the Sooner defense.
However, in spite of a season opening average of nearly 200 yards per game -through four games- it's another player in the Texas secondary that figures to be the key to keeping the Sooner defense honest. Quarterback Vincent Young will have to prove to the Oklahoma defense that he can beat them with his arm rather than his feet alone, because in the Bob Stoops regime it's been proven time and time again that one dimensional offenses are generally dominated by the Sooner defense.
As the Sooner defense has taken some tough losses at the defensive tackle position, so the Longhorns have suffered at defensive end. However, while there have been some questions at end with the Longhorns pass rush there are no questions with All-American junior Rodrique Wright and emerging freshman Franklin Okam.
Despite the talents of Wright, it's Butkus favorite Derrick Johnson that is the focal point of any offensive coordinator's film study. Johnson, has amassed 34 tackles, including three for loss this season and has done nothing to hurt his reputation as possibly the nation's top defensive player.
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