AUSTIN (KXAN) — It doesn’t get bigger than Texas vs. Oklahoma for a native Texan who grew up watching the Red River Rivalry.

“I’d been to that game growing up,” Longhorns sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers said. “I was always in the stands. Being able to run out there was a pretty good experience. I wanted to soak it in because I know how long I wanted to be there in that position.”

Ewers grew up in Southlake, a suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and clearly was soaking in the moment playing in the game last season. He also played his best game of his redshirt freshman season going 21-31 through the air for 289 yards and four touchdowns.

“They got new people over there,” Ewers said about this year’s Oklahoma team. “They’re obviously better at what they do than they were last year. Super excited for the opportunity.”

Ewers has seemed much more confident this fall. He missed a portion of the 2022 season with an injury. On the field, he’s thrown just one interception, and, off the field, he appears to have a better command of the team and his role in it.

“I’m definitely a whole lot more comfortable right now than where I was last year at this time. I think I’m allowed to act off instinct more instead of thinking so much which ultimately makes the game a lot more fun,” Ewers said.

One of the more clear differences in Ewers from last year to this year is an increased willingness to run the ball. The sophomore already has more yards rushing than he did all of last year, including long touchdown runs in each of the last two games.

“We don’t run designed quarterback runs like a lot of other people do,” Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “But we do rely on the quarterback to use his legs at opportune times. Most notably third down and in the red area. And I think Quinn is really starting to excel at that.”

Ewers and the Longhorns enter Saturday as a 6.5-point favorite, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.