Texas lost a pair of experienced linebackers to graduation, and returned little experience there. Oklahoma returned Tom Wort and Corey Nelson, but in Mike Stoops' new scheme, they've been limited. They've also struggled with pass defense, although Frank Shannon came in for Wort last week and shined; Shannon should see more time going forward. OU is also frequently in a six-DB, dime package, which leaves only one linebacker on the field at a time. Texas gets the edge by default.
Texas' Kenny Vaccaro, Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs are all returning starters with big-time talent, but the Longhorn secondary has been extremely disappointing so far in 2012. Oklahoma's secondary has continued to improve through the season, and Aaron Colvin has shown himself to be one of the better Oklahoma DBs in recent memory. Before the season, it would be unthinkable that OU would get the nod here, but it does.
D.J. Monroe returned one kick for a touchdown, which gives the Longhorns one more 2012 return-game score than the Sooners. But Brennan Clay and Roy Finch have done well returning kicks, and Justin Brown seems bound to score on a punt return at some point. Saunders could also contribute here going forward. Punters Alex King and Tress Way are a wash. OU's Michael Hunnicutt has made 5 of 6 field goal attempts, while Texas' two kickers are 4 of 9. That's the difference.
Mack Brown has labored through a rough stretch over the past few years that Bob Stoops — despite his occassional dips — hasn't experienced. Oklahoma's resolve following the Kansas State loss is a product of coaching; Stoops and his staff made adjustments and looked at their best last weekend, in their fourth game. Brown's enormously talented defense, meanwhile, continues to dramatically underperform.
Each team has now lost at home to an unbeaten Big 12 team — although the argument could be made that Texas should have two losses. Oklahoma gets the nod here, but it's because of timing as much as anything. The Sooners have a bye week and a Texas Tech rout between Saturday and their loss; Texas' came last weekend. OU also possibly gets a mental boost from Saunders' sudden eligibility.