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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Texas Football: The Oklahoma State Game 

Week Eight: No. 1 Texas (7-0) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma State (7-0)
Last Week: Texas 56, Missouri 31; Oklahoma State 34, Baylor 6
Last Meeting: (#14) Texas 38, Oklahoma State 35
All-Time Series: Texas leads 20-2

I know few people, who don't regard Saving Private Ryan as one of America's great cinematic achievements of the last few decades. It's a heroic tale of bravery, determination and sacrifice, and it features perhaps the best half-hour sequence ever put to film - the Allied invasion at Normandy.

As the Horns head into the real second half of their season, I think about that film and how it relates to Texas' progress toward a potential national title (yes, at this point it's okay to start talking about it).

Mack Brown's squad stormed the beach the past two weeks. They took the machine gun and mortar fire from Oklahoma and kept advancing. They stared down the enemy in Missouri and overwhelmed them. At this point the beach is secure and the Horns are standing tall.

But it's not over.

Captain John Miller's platoon didn't get to call it a day as dusk fell on June 6, 1944. Instead they found a new mission awaiting them - one that would require even more grit than the seemingly impossible one they had just accomplished. And for the film's remaining two hours the soldiers faced one peril after the other before they ultimately fulfilled their objective.

Texas now faces the same task. D-Day is behind them, but perhaps an even more grueling challenge lies ahead. Games against three ranked teams in the next four weeks will test this team's character and desire, as will the rivalry match-up that follows. If the regular season plays out as we all hope it will, the two postseason games afterward will further up the proverbial ante.

It's time to fulfill your objective, men, and it starts this weekend with Oklahoma State.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Burnt Orange Nation's PB includes a great analysis of Texas' statistical rankings in his weekly mailbag.
With Texas in the top spot, the mainstream news cycle inevitably will morph from "Look at Texas!" to "Let's try to identify Texas' warts!" Which is fine. Just don't blink when the pundits do a lazy job with the actual analysis. Here are the relevant facts:

1. Texas ranks 112th in FBS football with 275 pass yards allowed per game.
2. Texas ranks 74th in FBS football with 6.9 yards per pass attempt allowed.
3. Texas ranks 73rd in FBS football with a QB Rating allowed of 125.7.
4. Texas ranks 2nd in FBS football with 40.1 pass attempts faced per game.
5. Texas ranks 2nd in FBS football with 1.9 yards per rushing attempt allowed.
6. Texas ranks 3rd in FBS football with 25.3 rush attempts faced per game.
7. Texas ranks 38th in FBS football with 4.9 total yards per play allowed.
8. Texas ranks 22nd in FBS football with 58% of red zone chances resulting in TDs allowed.
9. Between when OU took a 35-30 lead and when Chris Ogbonnaya put Texas up 28-0 against Misssouri, Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel combined to complete just 9 of 23 pass attempts (sacks/rushes included) for 71 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT.


1. Teams can't run on Texas. Teams are playing from behind against Texas. They are passing often. The cumulative passing stats are going to be high.
2. The rate statistics are notably better than the cumulative stats.
3. There is some strategery at work here, as well: Texas is playing bend-don't-break defense, avoiding big passing plays as much as possible and making teams earn TDs in the red zone.
4. This group is improving. Game to game, quarter to quarter. I keep saying it, but it's worth repeating: We're a tougher out each week.

It doesn't take an overly rational person to get that Missouri's final point total wasn't indicative of the fight - or lack thereof - that they put up against Texas (see Deluded/Rational Thoughts, below...) But PB makes an excellent point about Texas' strength in stopping the run.

Oklahoma State may very well have the best running game of any team Texas faces this season, but they're going to have to prove they can run the ball against a stout Horns defense as much as Texas is going to have to prove they can stop a very effective OSU passing game.

The Week That Will Be, Brought to You by the Number Seven...
Seven. The name of a pretty good Brad Pitt movie. The number of Mickey Mantle, and perhaps the name of George Costanza’s daughter out there somewhere. The number of deadly sins. Designer jeans. The magic number on slot machines.

A magic number indeed. In baseball, teams talk about “magic numbers” when they are counting down the end of the regular season, and their magic number is a combination of how many wins they need and how many losses they need by their closest opposition to win the division or wild card.

But in college football, without a playoff system, the Longhorns now have a magic number of 7.

Jordan Shipley said this week that they don’t give you awards for being 7-0, but go 7-0 again this year, and we’re talking about a special team, and a special program.

And does anyone want to bet against this group of guys getting the job done? The chemistry and focus that this team appears to have is truly special.

Focus. We’re rolling downhill now.

Go check out the rest, as you don't want to miss Matt's Mid-Season Awards.

They Said It (the "Texas-Sized" version)...
"This is a different Texas than I've seen the last couple of years. Colt McCoy is a Heisman Trophy candidate right now."

Barry Switzer
There you have it folks; Fifty percent of former coaches who won both a National Title and a Super Bowl have publicly placed McCoy among the nation's best...
"I haven't seen everybody, but I don't think there is anybody above [McCoy] right now. I'd have to look to see if there is anybody else right now, but I haven't seen anybody that's above him that's for sure."

Florida QB Tim Teabow
...As have one hundred percent of reigning Heisman winners.
"We were expecting more of a dogfight. We're still looking for our best game and that wasn't it."

Texas DT Roy Miller
The entire country was expecting more of a dogfight last week, and we're all expecting one on Saturday. But the dogfight in the Cotton Bowl took a good three years off of my life, so if the Horns want to jump out to another big lead and cruise to an easy win over a good opponent then I'm perfectly willing to wait another week or two for Texas' best game.
"We're a blue-collar team and nobody takes things for granted. It doesn't matter where we're ranked. You can throw that No. 1 ranking out the window, and we have to go back to work."

Brian Orakpo. If I have to tell you that he's a Texas DE then please stop reading right now and go to TMZ.com
He says the right things off of the field, and he does the right things on the field. He's quite possibly my favorite current Longhorn.
"We decided we're going to get one of those ear pieces we see y'all wearing where we just get the network and it's $25 bucks and we get a two-for-one deal and we're going to spread them out. Either that or we're going to go to the Verizon network and have that horde of people standing right there by us so we can hear and say, 'Can you hear me now?'"

Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer, on communicating in what promises to be a boisterous DKR.
In twenty years of attending Longhorn games - close to one hundred home games in all - I've never experienced anything like last Saturday. A Texas home crowd legitimately made a difference in a game. The 98,000 people in attendance were not just loud, they were consistent.
"When was the last time the Cowboys played in an atmosphere like that?
No one is talking about Texas and OU in the national title, but it’s a real possibility. Sports writers and coaches didn’t want to see [Michigan and Ohio State in 2006] again because it had just taken place at the end of the season. But with Texas and OU, there will have been enough time between the two games that voters might be OK with it."

Richard Billingsley, developer of one of the six computer polls involved in the BCS formula.
Good Lord.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Coming soon...

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Coming soon...

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

This one really is unbelievable, and comes courtesy of the Unofficial Colt McCoy for Heisman website.
Chew on this for just a minute; as of right now Colt has 12 touchdown passes at DKR Stadium and only 14 incompletion's for the season.
I've done some crazy stuff on video games and never even come close to a stat like that. Take away a few drops and batted down balls, and the man has thrown more home TD passes than incompletions through four games.

The Things I Think About

Apologies, first off, for somehow deleting this week (if you enjoyed its absence then EABOD and DIAF).

As I watched Brian Orakpo dominate All-Big 12 candidate Phil Loadholt, I contemplated how my boy 'Rak would stand up to the standard-bearer for Longhorn DEs, Tony Brackens. As blasphemous as it may sound to those of us over the age of 25, I honestly think Orakpo could go down in the annals as our best-ever DE (note: I understand that I'm omitting from the discussion guys like Shane Dronett, Cory Redding and the great Hub Bechtol).

So since I haven't played a down of football since helping pave the way for Quincy Deavers to score TD after TD for the Travis Middle School 8th grade B Team, I posed this hypothetical to two of my favorite former Longhorns, "Sir" Rod Walker and Stonie Clark.

Rod's politically safe answer would have earned kudos from Barack Obama or John McCain. Since he knew Brackens and has never met Orakpo, he gives the nod to the Longhorn Legend. Stonie, though, noted that Tony used to "take a play off sometimes," and that Orakpo does not. What say you, the reader?

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

In 2005 my friends and I had an absolute blast in Stillwater. In 2007? Not so much. We can start with the Best Western Inn, which apparently doesn't enforce their non-smoking policy. I was also perplexed to learn, after going out in Oklahoma City in 2005, that every bar in Stillwater is apparently a pool hall, one of which proudly displays the Cowboys' recent calf judging national title. The bouncers, for the record, became increasingly less amused when I said: "I'm a Man; I'm 30," every time one asked me for my ID. Eskimo Joe's was not quite as fun the second time around either. Finally, there was the game. Texas stunk it up for three quarters, and in keeping with the high school atmosphere one might expect in Stillwater, the PA announcer and scoreboard display referred to Texas only as the "Visitors."

Then Jamaal Charles decided he was a man; he was 21.

Texas 38, Oklahoma State 35.

Whose House? Visitor's House!

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
"The Cowboys are finished, you understand?"
Truthfully, even a Missouri-like annihilation of OSU won't "finish" them. But Wyatt Earp's most famous outburst was Muschampian in its intensity.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

An appropriately named poster at Orangepower.com wonders, "If we beat Texas..."
We will finally get some "real" respect and "real" NC talk. Right now we are "the most overrated team in the top 10" and "don't have a solid win yet" (per sooner fans after Mizzou getting killed at Texas). I was just thinking about our team and realized:

1. We have the best special teams unit in Big 12
2. We have the best rushing game in the Big 12
3. We have arguably the best receiver in the Big 12
4. We have arguably the best TE in the Big 12
5. We have one of the top QB's in the Big 12
6. We have the most underrated defenses in the Big 12

When you start listing these things out- it looks pretty impressive.

Don't know if we can win at Texas, but I certainly give us a chance.

BTW- about the Texas-Mizzou beatdown, if you watched the game, Texas played a flawless first half. One of the most impressive games I have ever seen. If they played that way against OU they would have won by 30. Mizzou is still a solid top 15 team.
He (or she) is right about that last part. Actually he (or she) is right about a lot of them. But of the six points listed, you don't have to merely play Devil's Advocate to swing it back in Texas' favor.

Jeremy Maclin is every bit as good as Dez Bryant, Sam Bradford was better than Zac Robinson and an underrated defense still doesn't pose the threat that Oklahoma did. Remember what happened to them?

Still, I wouldn't label I'm Ur Huckleberry's post as delusional. However, fellow poster, t1m0thy, offers two gems:

Re: No. 5
True. Once again, not just in the big 12, in the country. And if he outplays McCoy like he did Daniel, the last time he faced the leading heisman candidate, ESPN can't pretend he doesn't exist anymore.
Re: No. 6
Also true. We have arguably the best defense in the big 12. Never thought I'd hear myself say that this year, but it's true. Texas's D (who nobody can talk about enough) held Missouri to 31 points IN AUSTIN. Ours held Missouri to 23 points IN COLUMBIA. No arguing that.
The first is laughably speculative. It reminds me of the time many years ago - probably after an OU loss, when these types of asinine debates were commonplace - some random LonghornFanZone.Com poster argued that Mack Brown was the more successful Texas coach than John Mackovic because "in two or three years he'll have just as many conference titles" as his predecessor.

The second is such an egregious misrepresentation of the facts that I cannot believe that he could type it without feeling like a complete moron. The game had long since lost any semblance of competition before Mizzou found its way to the end zone.

I couldn't find myself in this video, but maybe you can...

That had to have been taken within 10-15 feet of our group.

Prediction: If Texas trails at the halftime, offer the nearest OSU fan pre-emptive condolences.



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