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Red River Showdown: Battle of Heisman candidate QBs – Ehlinger vs. Hurts?

Both are in the Heisman race. Both are leading elite scoring offenses in Division I college football. Who will step up to the challenge in the Red River Showdown?

AUSTIN, Texas — The AT&T Red River Showdown logo may say Texas versus Oklahoma, but all eyes will mostly be focused on the story-line regarding two players: Sam Ehlinger and Jalen Hurts. 

Both are in the Heisman race. 

Both are leading elite scoring offenses in Division I college football. 

Oklahoma ranks second in the nation, scoring 53.4 points per game. Texas comes in eleventh in that same respective stat, boasting 41.8 points per game

ESPN lists Hurts as the odds-on favorite to hoist the Heisman trophy at this point in the season, and Ehlinger is among the others who have receiver votes in the race. 

Both share a similar production in terms of scoring in the air and also on the ground. Hurts has scored 14 passing touchdowns and seven rushing. Ehlinger has scored 17 passing touchdowns and three rushing. Hurts and Ehlinger have each respectively lit up their opponents, no question. 

The Red River Showdown will be a stage for either quarterback to step up and add to his Heisman resume. Performing in games like this one are paramount to the Heisman voters. Games like the Red River Showdown are where "Heisman moments" live. 

To Oklahoma fans' dismay, Ehlinger has a history of playing well in the Red River Showdown, too. In 2017, Ehlinger combined for 384 total yards (278 passing and 106 rushing) and two touchdowns. In 2018, he eclipsed that mark with 386 total yards (314 passing and 72 rushing) and five touchdowns. 


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Hurts is no stranger to playing in big games either, though. In his career as Alabama's starting quarterback, Hurts led the Crimson Tide to two SEC Championships in 2016 and again in 2018, where he orchestrated a second-half comeback against Georgia relieving an injured Tua Tagovailoa. It is worth noting, however, that Hurts' play in the 2017 National Championship game led to him being the backup in that 2018 season to begin with. 

After transferring from Alabama to Oklahoma for his senior season, Hurts seems to be the latest example of Heisman-level quarterbacks to transfer into OU and light up the Big 12 defenses with eye-opening statistics. 

Question is, which Hurts will show up? The Hurts getting 404 total yards per game and scoring more than four touchdowns on average? Or will it be the Hurts play that ultimately led to being replaced and having to transfer in the first place? 

And will the typical Ehlinger show up? Or has Lincoln Riley and the OU staff finally figured out a way to stop the Austin native?

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, we'll all soon find out once that football is kicked off. One thing is for sure though: waves in the Heisman race will be made depending on how these two quarterbacks perform in the Cotton Bowl. 


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