Texas coach Steve Sarkisian analyzed all the noise factors heading into the Red River Showdown against No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday.
“We’re back in the top 25 and we’re on a three-game winning streak,” Sarkisian he said at his press conference on Tuesday. “Bijan is Heisman’s contender now. It’s the biggest game of the year.”
Running back Bijan Robinson is a big part of that three-game winning streak. The SN Preseason All-American ranks second in the FBS with 652 rushing yards. He added 167 receiving yards with nine total touchdowns in five games.
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Robinson is coming off a 35-carry, 216-yard performance in a 32-27 win over TCU on Oct. 2. That has put the second-year running back in the Heisman Trophy mix, and Sarkisian said the Longhorns staff is handling that workload. .
“Bijan feels great. If you ask him, he feels really good,” Sarkisian said. “I think he came out of the game extremely healthy.”
If Robinson wants to stay in the Heisman Trophy discussion, then a win against the Sooners would go a long way in keeping him there.
Past Texas Heisman winners made a statement in this game.
Earl Campbell had his best game against the Sooners in his senior year on October 8, 1977. The Longhorns were 0-2-1 in the previous three meetings. Campbell scored the only TD of the game in a 13-6 victory. He had 24 carries for 124 yards and caught a pass for four yards. Campbell threw an interception on his only pass attempt, but that performance helped him win the Heisman Trophy.
Ricky Williams had his best performance against the Sooners on October 11, 1997. He had 40 carries for 234 yards and two TDs and two receptions for 26 yards. Texas won 27-24 and Williams finished fifth in the Heisman vote.
On October 10, 1998, Williams had 31 carries for 139 yards and two touchdowns with two receptions for 27 yards. The Longhorns won on a 34-3 break, and Williams used that momentum to win the Heisman.
Cedric Benson (2001-04) and Jamaal Charles (2005-07) followed and ran for more than 3,000 yards at Texas, but they combined to finish 1-6 against Oklahoma and never got any meaningful talk from Heisman.
Robinson is just a sophomore, but this is the game that can launch a Heisman Trophy campaign. Oklahoma has had four Heisman winners since Williams won the award in 1997. Quarterbacks Jason White (2003), Sam Bradford (2007), Baker Mayfield (2017) and Kyler Murray (2018) won the award, and Spencer Rattler it was preseason. favorite in 2021.
Robinson, however, has a unique opportunity to steal that spot on Saturday. Oklahoma has the best running defense in the conference at 83.6 yards per game. The Sooners have won four of the last five meetings, and this is Sarkisian’s first attempt at the head coach rivalry.
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There are many noise factors, but Robinson proved last week that he is capable of meeting expectations. Can you channel Campbell and Williams and do it again?
“We had challenged him from the beginning coming out of spring ball to prepare physically and mentally for those kinds of games when they come up,” Sarkisian said. “He answered really well.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.