Every year, nearly 95,000 people gather in the Cotton Bowl to watch one of the most historic rivalries in all of college football. These games rely as much on preparation and coaching as they do on player determination and pride. Texas was a 14 point underdog coming into Saturdayâ€™s game versus Oklahoma â€“ no surprise considering they were facing the eleventh ranked team in the country.
The real surprise was that the winning team only ran 50 plays, was 1 of 11 on 3rd down, and totaled only 232 yards of offense. When looking at the stats, it doesnâ€™t seem like Oklahoma should have won this game; however, the Sooners were able to limit their turnovers and cash in on some big X factor scores to win by 5 points.
Texas won most of the vital statistical categories like 3rd down conversions (7 of 18), total 1st downs (24), total yards (482yds), and plays run (84), yet still fell short. Texas even won the Time of Possession battle by nearly 15 minutes! In todayâ€™s college football, some high tempo offenses make it clear that TOP isnâ€™t important, but for Charlie Strongâ€™s offense the stat plays a big role.
The Longhorn offense is built to sustain drives and limit the amount of time their defense has to spend on the field. This trend was highlighted in the first half when OU was up by four points: Texasâ€™ combined scoring drives accounted for 32 plays and 208 yards while OUâ€™s seventeen points were accumulated by just 5 offensive plays and 19 yards gained. While there were several crucial situations in this game that changed the momentum, the only way a winner is determined is by the scoreboard, so letâ€™s take a look at Oklahomaâ€™s X factor score which changed the tide of the game.
After Texas made a statement by going on a 13-play, 64-yard drive to take the lead 3-0, Oklahoma cashed in on special teams with a Kick Return for a Touchdown. Texas plays their kick coverage by limiting the amount of field the return team has to work with. They attempted to achieve this by placing the ball on the left hash for kickoffs and pinning the returner on the outside of the hash marks. By attempting to corral the returner, he has less space to work with, thus making the tackle easier for the defense. The Sooners countered by attacking the open side of the field and used lead blockers to clear the way (fig 1).