Was the game crisp? Far from it. Was it well-played? Depends if you like your offense or your defense. But, clearly, this was a game that was both chippy and tense. Frustrating and Electric. I think that I would not want to see it every Saturday, but if the last year's Texas win was a masterpiece from both QBs, then this year's Texas win was just the opposite. In both cases, a worthy 4 hours of your time.
In many ways, the game went from a "Dream Match-up" to an eventuality in one big play early, as an Aaron Williams blitz knocked Sam Bradford on his throwing shoulder again and out of the game. The common details of the play with the same scenario 6 weeks ago are hard to avoid, and regardless of who you root for, I hope you see how college sports in general loses when a kid gambles on himself and his school rather than the fruits of the pros and loses big. I cannot guarantee how much money Sam Bradford lost yesterday, but know that being injured once is not a big deal, but to be injured twice in 3 starts has NFL executives wondering if that shoulder will hold up at the next level for 12 years. A quick glance at the pay rate for the 1st round picks demonstrate that Matt Stafford was guaranteed $41m for #1, Mark Sanchez got $28m for #5, and Josh Freeman, the next QB off the board at #17 was promised $10.25m.He will still be a very rich man, but this weekend might have cost him at least half of his enormous pile of money.
And in many ways, that means all college fans lose. If Tim Duncan, Sam Bradford, Peyton Manning, and friends hang around in college and it works out, more will do it. If it doesn't work out, then future studs will see the error in their ways. Sam Bradford may or may not be a future cautionary tale - time will tell, but Matthew Stafford and Bob Stoops are very, very rich men this morning. Sam Bradford is not. Yet.
So, after the injury, the theme of the game turned dramatically. Then it switched to "could Texas screw this up?" and could that valiant Oklahoma defense score on their own, because it was hard to imagine the Oklahoma offense scoring enough to win.
But, that is why we play the games. Oklahoma still outgained Texas, 311-269 (although that lead evaporates if you simply subtract the Bradford to Murray 64 yard pass on the game's first drive). After Bradford left, the Oklahoma offense averaged 3.7 yards per play, and the Texas offense countered with just 3.5 with Colt McCoy.
Josh Sent me this email to sum up the game in general:
OU throws out…
2nd String QB
125 yards on penalties
-18 rushing yards
1 missed field goal
Texas still can’t cover the spread. Texas is 1 & 6 vs the spread over it's last 7 games.
He is right. Texas did not "beat the spread", but I highly doubt that too many Longhorns care about that. A win in this series is extremely difficult to get, so I am pretty sure Mack Brown will take his 4th in 5 over his rival.
In 2004, it was pointed out that every single player on the Texas team had never tasted victory over their 4-5 years in the program. Well, the class that leaves Austin in 2010 will only have been beaten once by Mighty Oklahoma in the subsequent 5 years.
In Cowboys-game-style, let's throw out some random notes and observations about the big Saturday for Texas-Oklahoma in Fair Park:
* I am trying to remember the last time that Oklahoma had to play this game without either an exceptional Running Back and an exceptional QB. For years, we have been spoiled with the extreme quality at the important positions for the Sooners. The 2005 game had a very gimpy Adrian Peterson and a very young Rhett Bomar, but this was Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray looking ordinary, and Landry Jones proving how good Sam Bradford is. In fact, neither team had a "Wow" RB, and how far back to we have to go to say that?
* According to Mel Kiper, these two schools have 6 players in the top 25 for next April's draft. Sam Bradford is projected at #1, Gerald McCoy at #4, Colt McCoy #8, Jermaine Gresham #17, Sergio Kindle #21, and Trent Williams at #25. Bradford barely played, and Gresham, of course, is out all year. Otherwise, McCoy was not great with several turnovers including 2 in the Red Zone, Kindle was pretty quiet, and Trent Williams had a tough time on the edge with Eddie Jones on a key sack late in the 3rd Quarter. That leaves Gerald McCoy. If I am a team on Sunday, he is just the type of disruptive force that demands a double team that I want to get my hands on. I am very impressed with McCoy. I am trying to figure out if I like him more than I like Tommie Harris several years ago, but I think he can be in the same league.
* How good is Texas this year? I have a hard time saying they resemble the team that I thought last year was good enough to have won the National Title. Quan Cosby is gone. Brian Orakpo is gone. Several other parts, too. But, does it matter? If last year the chips didn't fall right, you could make the case that this year they are being given a make-good. They still have plenty of work to do, but Tech and Oklahoma both appear to be a bit out of the picture, and while there are several interesting road tests left (At Missouri, Oklahoma State, Aggieland) it appears to be quite doable. This year, despite not impressing the masses, the fact is that they appear to be on the expressway to a National Title Game in January. It truly demonstrates the fact that in College Football, the season is the playoff. Win and advance. Style points and being ahead at halftime doesn't really matter.
* For Texas early, the offense was absolutely silly. I know Oklahoma is good, but 1 yard per play? Much of that is inexcusable. What kept Texas hanging around early had to have been the key Texas stops. On 3 of the first 4 Oklahoma drives, the Sooners drove it in to the Texas end, only to be stopped on 3rd down. This led to two Field Goals and a third one that missed. What could have been 14-0 or 17-0 was only 6-0. I think in all of the excitement, people forget that the Texas defense had to make some plays to keep the game where it was while Colt and the offense tried to deal with the Sooners. If Texas could have kept from committing Pass Interference Penalties on 3rd and Long, it would have been much better.
* It sure seems odd to imagine this, but you have to think the last 5 years has put Bob Stoops on slightly unsteady footing. It is based on the "high bar" theory, but between his BCS Bowls and His Red River Rivalries, I am guessing that the message boards are starting to wonder if he really walks on water anymore.
* James Kirkendoll needs to run some stairs after that Head Butt Personal Foul.
* I don't think Brent Musburger gets as "down home" as he used to, but two things jumped out at me as somewhat annoying from the announcing icon. First, not every play is "Dialed Up". Sometimes, someone may dial up a blitz, but not every play is "dialed up". I don't think he described any play as simply being "called". They were all dialed up. Second, since the college game is completely made up of young men between 18-22, we get that they are "youngsters". Until a 42 year old plays in college, you can back off on every player - whether a freshman or a 5th year senior - is a "youngster". Just two things that stuck out. Otherwise, talk corny dogs all you want.
* I think we are all better off with replays. I don't want to get in a huge debate about each call, nor am I thrilled that an 11am game lasts past 3pm, but you have replay to get the calls right. I think the McCoy fumble was right on, as was the muffed punt. The game is too fast not to have replay.
* I think Keenan Clayton is a heck of a LB. I think he could have become a legend yesterday if he would have held onto one of those certain Pick-6s that Colt threw him yesterday.
* One thing that annoys me about Texas Football? The chaos with their numbers is just out of control. I understand that college programs have a lot more players to account for, but for years, they always have a pair of "8"s or a pair of "11"s on the 2-deep. That is just silly. Only 44 names appear on a 2-deep, so having Jordan Shipley and Chykie Brown in #8 is not necessary. But, clearly, it has never bothered anyone else to change it, because this has gone on forever. I know other colleges do it, too. But, Texas seems to do it the most.
* This is how far the Big 12 has morphed: A Street-Fight Rivalry game with carnage all over the field and it seems like every one is ashamed of it. Don't tell me that you have all forgotten about 3 yards and a cloud of dust! Don't tell me that we have gone so far with this 5-wide no huddle that a good old fashioned 16-13 steel cage match is foreign? You know, when Florida and LSU does this it is charming. I know it was not full of offensive dream plays, but it wasn't that bad of a game. 45-35 is not that great to some of us. We like collisions and tackles and the occasional player who cannot pop right back up.
There is plenty of work Texas needs to do to get their offense up to standard. But, they got the all-important win. For them, the season continues. For Oklahoma, at 3-3, they can still achieve many things, but the high hopes of August have certainly taken a major turn south after two straight trips to the Metroplex have not only ended in defeat, but also with serious questions about the future of their QB.
Does Sam Bradford play again in Crimson and Cream? I doubt it. If I am Sam, I get ready for the combine. I have tried to fight the good fight in college football this year, but it is getting expensive.