Nila Kasitati is ready to be on the front line as he and the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners take on Texas in the 2013 AT&T Red River Rivalry game Saturday in Dallas.
As a player at Euless Trinity, Kasitati watched both fan bases take over the Metroplex every year during the rivalry weekend. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, and again last year after suffering an injury, Kasitati watched from the sidelines as the Sooners rolled the Longhorns.
He’s ready to be a part of the action.
“Getting a chance to play in this one really means a lot to me,” said Kasitati, a 6-foot-4, 312-pound offensive lineman. “From the crowd, the fans, you can tell this is a big game. The stadium is half in burnt orange and half in crimson. It’s probably the best game atmosphere I’ve ever been to.”
Oklahoma has struggled on offense at times this year. The Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) managed just 16 points at home against West Virginia in their conference opener. The Mountaineers gave up 73 on the road last week against Baylor. But, starting with Kasitati and the offensive line, Oklahoma is improving. The Sooners are averaging 455.2 total yards a game and 246 yards a game on the ground.
Kasitati played in four games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Texas Tech. He said being back on the field, especially this week, is a blessing.
“I missed two of these rivalry games,” he said. “I’m happy to be back. It’s good, finally, to get some playing time, play with my boys. Going through rehab was tough. It’s always good when you have good teammates.”
The Sooners are shooting for a fourth straight win against Texas. The Longhorns (3-2, 2-0 Big 12) have struggled on defense this season, especially against the run, giving up an average of nearly 250 yards on the ground each game.
“Texas is going to have top recruits and everything,” Kasitati said. “They have big boys over there. We have to be ready for that. We have to be ready for their basic blitzes and what they will have.”
Now, Kasitati is focused on staying calm.
“That’s going to be the tough part. For sure, I’m going to be hyped for this one,” Kasitati said. “I really just have to not let out too much energy in the beginning and not get caught up too much in the hype. I have to focus on my plays, keep doing my thing.
Games of the week
No. 25 Missouri at No. 7 Georgia (11 a.m. Saturday, ESPN): The unbeaten Tigers (5-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) have bounced back from a dismal first year in the SEC and climbed into the Associated Press Top 25 poll this week after a 51-28 win against Vanderbilt last week. The Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0 SEC), who are dealing with multiple key injuries at offensive skill positions, needed overtime and some luck to beat Tennessee on the road last week. A few weeks ago, Georgia would have been an overwhelming favorite. Now, we will see if the Bulldogs can overcome the injuries.
No. 17 Florida at No. 10 LSU (2:30 p.m. Saturday, KTVT/11): The Tigers (5-1, 2-1 SEC) have been a bizarro version of LSU this year. Instead of their typical dominant defense and power rushing attack, the Tigers are giving up a lot of points (24.7 a game) and have proven to have a deadly passing game with QB Zach Mettenberger throwing to Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. But Florida, which is giving up just 12.2 points a game (fourth lowest in the country, while LSU averages 45.5 points scored), will try to slow the pace.
No. 19 Northwestern at Wisconsin (2:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2): The Wildcats (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten) fell short in an upset attempt last week against No. 4 Ohio State. Now they have to travel to take on a Wisconsin team desperate to avoid dropping to .500 after falling out of the rankings. This is a big game for both sides. Northwestern is still trying to prove it belongs in the Top 25, while the Badgers are trying to regain their footing after a controversial loss to Arizona State and a one-touchdown loss to the Buckeyes two weeks ago.
No. 2 Oregon at No. 16 Washington (3 p.m. Saturday, Fox Sports 1): Every game so far this season has been a blowout win for the Ducks (5-2, 2-0 Pac-12). But those wins came against Nicholls State, Virginia, Tennessee, California and Colorado. Things get much tougher for Oregon this week on the road. The Huskies (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) are coming off a 31-28 loss to No. 5 Stanford, a close road game for Washington that came down to the final seconds. While the Huskies aren’t scoring nearly 60 points a game as Oregon does, they do have a capable offense. This game should have a lot of scoring and more stress for Ducks fans than usual.
5 Wins for Missouri this season, a year after the Tigers finished 5-7 in their first season in the Southeastern Conference.
17 Consecutive road wins for Oregon, the longest streak in the nation. Northern Illinois (12) is the next team. The Ducks put their 17-game streak on the line this week at Washington.
“So our players start to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. And when you go on the road, that’s the key.” — Florida coach Will Muschamp on using crowd noise in practice to prepare for hostile road crowds like the one his Gators will face Saturday in Baton Rouge, La., against LSU.
“I’ll start off just saying I know for a fact I’m not the last quarterback to lose to Iowa State. So we can get that out of the way and move on.” — Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury joking in his opening statement to reporters this week leading up to a game against Iowa State after having to face a Kansas team last week that had only beaten the Red Raiders once — when Kingsbury was the starting quarterback in 2001.