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What Went Wrong In The Cotton Bowl?

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When you lose a game like the one Oklahoma did in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday you can pinpoint a handful of plays that were game changers. The 2008 version of the Red River Rivalry truly was a classic against two teams that would be legitimate BCS championship contenders but only one could emerge in control of their own destiny. Let’s give credit where it is due and congratulate our archrivals from south of the border and then look at what went wrong.

1st-10, Okla20 15:00 S. Bradford passed to J. Gresham to the right for 9 yard gain
2nd-1, Okla29 14:30 D. Murray rushed to the right for 2 yard gain. Tex committed 15 yard penalty
1st-10, Okla46 14:20 D. Murray rushed up the middle for no gain
2nd-10, Okla46 14:20 S. Bradford passed to D. Murray to the left for 34 yard gain
1st-10, Tex20 13:50 S. Bradford passed to J. Gresham down the middle for 15 yard gain
1st-5, Tex5 13:00 C. Brown rushed up the middle for no gain
2nd-5, Tex5 12:30 S. Bradford incomplete pass to the right

3rd-5, Tex5

7-0 OU

12:23 S. Bradford passed to M. Johnson to the left for 5 yard touchdown. J. Stevens made PAT

Things are looking great at this point. The Sooners went 80 yards in 8 plays and Sam Bradford was 4/5 for 63 yards but we see early that the running game wasn’t working. Oklahoma did some really good things with play-action and misdirection on this drive and the momentum was clearly on the side of the Sooners at this point.

1st-10, Tex34 12:17 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby to the right for 5 yard gain
2nd-5, Tex39 11:57 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-4, Tex40 11:57 Okla committed 5 yard penalty
1st-10, Tex45 10:07 J. Chiles rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
2nd-9, Tex46 9:57 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley down the middle for 16 yard gain
1st-10, Okla38 9:27 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, Okla35 9:07 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby to the left for 25 yard gain
1st-10, Okla10 9:07 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, Okla7 8:07 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley down the middle for no gain
3rd-7, Okla7 8:07 C. McCoy sacked by G. McCoy

4th-9, Okla9

7-3 OU

8:07 H. Lawrence kicked a 26-yard field goal

Even with Texas scoring a field goal on this possession Oklahoma still had momentum because the kept the Longhorns out of the end zone when Texas had a first down at the Oklahoma 10 yard line. However, this drive should have been a three-and-out but OU committed a 5 yard penalty on 3rd and 4.  

 

1st-10, Okla26 6:33 D. Murray rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
2nd-9, Okla27 5:53 S. Bradford rushed up the middle for no gain
3rd-9, Okla27 5:53 S. Bradford passed to J. Iglesias to the left for 1 yard gain
4th-8, Okla28 4:53 M. Knall punt, no return

Texas did a good job here at dropping back in coverage. Bradford’s run wasn’t planned. It was a scramble that resulted from not being able to find a receiver.

1st-10, Tex39 4:35 C. McCoy incomplete pass to the right
2nd-10, Tex39 4:35 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby to the right for 12 yard gain
1st-10, Okla49 3:55 C. McCoy rushed up the middle for 3 yard loss. C. McCoy fumbled. C. McCoy recovered fumble
2nd-13, Tex48 3:15 C. McCoy passed to B. Collins down the middle for 4 yard gain
3rd-9, Okla48 2:35 Okla committed 5 yard penalty
3rd-4, Okla43 2:15 C. McCoy incomplete pass to the right
4th-4, Okla43 2:15 Tex committed 5 yard penalty
4th-9, Okla48 2:15 J. Gold punt, touchback

No damage here because the drive ended with a Texas punt but once again we see a defensive penalty for jumping into the neutral zone. It took Texas from 3rd and 9 to a easier to convert 3rd and 4.  

1st-10, Okla20 1:56 S. Bradford rushed to the right for 4 yard gain
2nd-6, Okla24 1:46 S. Bradford incomplete pass to the left
3rd-6, Okla24 1:46 Okla committed 5 yard penalty
3rd-11, Okla19 1:46 S. Bradford rushed to the right for 2 yard gain
4th-9, Okla21 1:16 M. Knall punt. Q. Cosby returned punt for 2 yard loss

Again Texas does a superb job at dropping back in coverage to force a Sam Bradford run on first down. However, that would be given back and then some with a false start penalty on third down that changed the dynamic of the drive.

1st-10, Tex41 1:05 C. McCoy incomplete pass to the right
2nd-10, Tex41 0:55 C. McCoy sacked by J. Beal. Tex penalty
3rd-23, Tex28 0:55 C. McCoy passed to C. Ogbonnaya down the middle for 10 yard gain
4th-13, Tex38 0:25 J. Gold punt, no return

This was the final Texas drive of the first quarter. At the end of the first 15 minutes of play the Longhorns had only produced 70 yards of offense (Oklahoma’s first drive was 80 yards) and scored 3 points. You couldn’t say that it was a great start to the game but it was a very good one for the Sooners.

1st-10, Okla26 0:02 S. Bradford rushed up the middle for 4 yard gain

2nd Quarter

Oklahoma continued

 
2nd-6, Okla30 15:00 S. Bradford passed to R. Broyles to the left for 23 yard gain
1st-10, Tex47 14:30 S. Bradford passed to R. Broyles down the middle for 4 yard gain
2nd-6, Tex43 14:00 S. Bradford passed to R. Broyles to the left for 7 yard gain
1st-10, Tex36 14:00 S. Bradford passed to D. Murray down the middle for 11 yard gain
1st-10, Tex25 14:00 D. Murray rushed up the middle for 1 yard loss
2nd-11, Tex26 13:20 S. Bradford passed to J. Iglesias down the middle for 18 yard gain

1st-8, Tex8

14-3

13:20 S. Bradford passed to R. Broyles to the right for 8 yard touchdown. J. Stevens made PAT

Things are in place for a possible Red River blowout. Oklahoma is up 14-3 but has not has not yet shown the ability to effectively run the football. Without being able to do that they won’t be able to burn clock in the second half. What we’ll see next is absolutely what we feared when it comes to Oklahoma’s special teams. Jordan Shipley would run the ensuing kickoff back 96 yards to pay dirt. This absolutely changed the landscape of the game. Instead of a 14-3 lead, with Texas demoralized, the score was 14-10 and the Texas sideline was energized.

1st-10, Okla27 12:54 D. Murray rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
2nd-9, Okla28 12:14 S. Bradford passed to D. Murray down the middle for 8 yard gain
3rd-1, Okla36 12:12 C. Brown rushed up the middle for 6 yard gain
1st-10, Okla42 12:12 S. Bradford sacked by B. Orakpo
2nd-19, Okla33 12:12 S. Bradford passed to M. Johnson down the middle for 15 yard gain

3rd-4, Okla48

21-10 OU

12:12 S. Bradford passed to J. Gresham to the left for 52 yard touchdown. J. Stevens made PAT

Oklahoma did fairly well on running on this drive but the pass was the bread and butter and the Sooners scored another touchdown. I don’t want to sound like scoring is a bad thing but OU should have been in complete control at this point of the game and they weren’t. Texas just wouldn’t be put away.

1st-10, Tex20 10:25 J. Chiles rushed up the middle for no gain
2nd-10, Tex20 9:55 Okla committed 5 yard penalty
2nd-5, Tex25 9:55 Okla committed 5 yard penalty
1st-10, Tex30 9:40 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 1 yard loss
2nd-11, Tex29 9:40 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley down the middle for 11 yard gain
1st-10, Tex40 7:10 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley down the middle for 14 yard gain
1st-10, Okla46 7:10 C. McCoy rushed up the middle for no gain
2nd-10, Okla46 6:50 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby to the left for 11 yard gain
1st-10, Okla35 6:20 C. McCoy rushed up the middle for 9 yard gain
2nd-1, Okla26 6:00 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 1 yard loss
3rd-2, Okla27 5:30 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby down the middle for 19 yard gain
1st-8, Okla8 5:00 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby down the middle for 5 yard gain
2nd-3, Okla3 4:50 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley to the right for 2 yard gain

3rd-1, Okla1

21-17 OU

3:50 C. Johnson rushed to the right for 1 yard touchdown. H. Lawrence made PAT

Oklahoma just couldn’t keep Texas at a distance. The Longhorns did an amazing job all afternoon at answering Oklahoma scores. This was the best drive of the day for Texas and it was huge. Colt McCoy was spectacular on this drive coming up with play after play. However, it may not have happened had it not been for the assistance of OU’s defense. With the Longhorns facing 2nd and 10 from their own 20 Oklahoma’s defense jumped before the snap on consecutive plays giving the Longhorns a first down.

1st-10, Okla27 3:35 C. Brown rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, Okla30 3:35 S. Bradford passed to J. Iglesias to the left for 4 yard gain
3rd-3, Okla34 3:35 E. Acho intercepted S. Bradford for no gain

Sam Bradford’s interception here was huge. Outside of the Texas kickoff return it was the biggest mistake of the half for the Sooners. Now the Longhorns have the opportunity to take the lead going into the half.

I realize that you have to take your shots down the field but maybe we should question if this was the time. OU only needed three yards here and they have numerous plays that could pick up those yards. Get the first down and then stretch the field!

1st-10, Tex33 2:45 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby to the right for 36 yard gain
1st-10, Okla31 2:35 C. McCoy sacked by A. Davis
2nd-14, Okla35 2:05 C. McCoy incomplete pass to the left. Okla committed 15 yard penalty
1st-10, Okla20 1:35 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, Okla17 1:25 C. McCoy incomplete pass down the middle
3rd-7, Okla17 0:45 C. McCoy passed to C. Ogbonnaya down the middle for 1 yard gain

4th-6, Okla16

21-20 OU

0:03 H. Lawrence kicked a 33-yard field goal

Penalties were huge in the first half. Again we find a drive that could have possibly ended but was saved by a defensive penalty. Yes, I understand that McCoy could have taken a dive on this play but you can’t get around the fact that Travis Lewis touched him and that is what earned the flag.

1st-10, Tex24 14:55 C. McCoy sacked by G. McCoy
2nd-16, Tex18 14:35 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby down the middle for 6 yard gain
3rd-10, Tex24 14:35 C. McCoy incomplete pass down the middle
4th-10, Tex24 13:35 J. Gold punt. R. Broyles returned punt for 24 yards

This could have and should have been a defensive statement by the Sooners. Starting the second half off with a sack was huge but unfortunately this would be the last time Oklahoma’s defense would take the field for an entire defensive stand with a healthy Ryan Reynolds.    

 

1st-10, Okla49 13:15 D. Murray rushed up the middle for 2 yard gain
2nd-8, Tex49 13:15 S. Bradford passed to J. Gresham down the middle for 4 yard gain
3rd-4, Tex45 13:15 S. Bradford passed to M. Johnson down the middle for 30 yard gain. M. Johnson fumbled
1st-10, Tex14 13:15 S. Bradford incomplete pass to the left
2nd-10, Tex14 13:15 S. Bradford incomplete pass down the middle

3rd-10, Tex14

28-20 OU

13:15 S. Bradford passed to M. Johnson down the middle for 14 yard touchdown. J. Stevens made PAT

Again, it’s hard to complain when the team is scoring touchdowns but Oklahoma only ran the ball once on this drive. Back-to-back incomplete passes stopped the clock with Oklahoma leading the game. 

 

1st-10, Tex11 11:40 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 6 yard gain
2nd-4, Tex17 10:50 V. McGee rushed up the middle for 2 yard loss
3rd-6, Tex15 10:10 C. McCoy passed to B. Collins down the middle for 10 yard gain
1st-10, Tex25 9:50 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley to the left for 5 yard gain
2nd-5, Tex30 9:40 C. McCoy passed to C. Ogbonnaya to the left for 6 yard gain
1st-10, Tex36 9:40 C. McCoy rushed up the middle for 8 yard gain
2nd-2, Tex44 8:20 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 30 yard gain
1st-10, Okla26 8:00 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley to the left for 9 yard gain
2nd-1, Okla17 7:50 C. McCoy rushed up the middle for 7 yard gain
1st-10, Okla10 7:50 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley down the middle for 6 yard gain
2nd-4, Okla4 7:50 C. McCoy rushed up the middle for 2 yard gain

3rd-2, Okla2

28-27 OU

7:50 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley down the middle for 2 yard touchdown. H. Lawrence made PAT

I take it back! This was the most impressive drive for the Texas Longhorns most impressive drive of the day. Without Ryan Reynolds in the middle Texas attacked the weakness of Oklahoma’s defense. Nine of the Longhorns twelve plays on this drive were right at Brandon Crow. I’ve got no beef against the kid because he is young and was thrust into an extremely difficult situation but he was clearly abused by the Texas offense.

1st-10, Okla27 5:33 C. Brown rushed up the middle for 2 yard gain
2nd-8, Okla29 5:33 Tex committed 15 yard penalty
1st-10, Okla44 4:53 C. Brown rushed up the middle for 4 yard gain
2nd-6, Okla48 4:23 S. Bradford sacked by B. Orakpo. S. Bradford fumbled. P. Loadholt recovered fumble and returned for 5 yards
3rd-9, Okla45 4:23 S. Bradford passed to D. Murray down the middle for 3 yard gain
4th-6, Okla48 4:23 M. Knall rushed to the right for 5 yard gain

At this point I knew that Oklahoma was in serious trouble. Texas had given OU 15 yards on one of their few penalties and the Sooners couldn't capitalize. Oklahoma was unable to do here what Texas had already done three times in this game. OU could not answer with a score when they were up against the ropes. As they say hindsight is 20/20 but the fake punt was a bad idea in my opinion. I know Bob Stoops has been able to pull those off in the past but I just think it was a bad idea, especially when the Sooners had the lead.

All that said, Oklahoma was a failed Jermaine Gresham block away from converting on the fake punt. Notice I didn’t say a missed block. I said failed block as in didn’t even attempt to block.    

1st-10, Tex47 2:56 C. McCoy rushed to the left for 18 yard gain. Okla committed 15 yard penalty
1st-10, Okla20 2:56 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, Okla17 2:56 C. McCoy rushed to the left for 6 yard gain
3rd-1, Okla11 2:56 C. McCoy incomplete pass to the right

4th-1, Okla11

30-28 Texas

2:56 H. Lawrence kicked a 28-yard field goal

Yes, it was a bogus penalty but Travis Lewis should have just let McCoy fall instead of trying to hold him up. Good deeds are seldom rewarded on the opponent’s sideline. If the quarterback hits the ground and you are in the vicinity there will be laundry on the field.

1st-10, Okla24 0:57 M. Madu rushed up the middle for no gain
2nd-10, Okla24 0:57 S. Bradford passed to M. Johnson down the middle for 6 yard gain
3rd-4, Okla30 0:47 S. Bradford passed to J. Gresham down the middle for 10 yard gain
1st-10, Okla40 0:27 S. Bradford incomplete pass down the middle
2nd-10, Okla40 0:17 M. Madu rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain

4th Quarter

Oklahoma continued

 
3rd-7, Okla43 15:00 S. Bradford passed to M. Madu to the left for 3 yard gain
4th-4, Okla46 14:10 Tex committed 5 yard penalty
1st-10, Tex49 14:00 C. Brown rushed up the middle for 13 yard gain
1st-10, Tex36 13:20 C. Brown rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
2nd-9, Tex35 12:50 J. Gresham rushed to the right for 5 yard gain
3rd-4, Tex30 12:50 Okla committed 10 yard penalty
3rd-14, Tex40 12:50 S. Bradford passed to J. Iglesias down the middle for 26 yard gain

1st-10, Tex14

35-30 OU

12:50 S. Bradford passed to M. Johnson to the right for 14 yard touchdown. J. Stevens made PAT

This is the drive of the game for Oklahoma! Oklahoma went 76 yards in 13 plays to regain the lead after falling behind for the fist time. Unfortunately it would be OU’s final scoring drive of the day.

1st-10, Tex26 11:36 C. McCoy rushed up the middle for no gain
2nd-10, Tex26 11:26 Okla committed 3 yard penalty
1st-10, Tex29 11:26 C. McCoy rushed up the middle for 9 yard gain. C. McCoy fumbled. C. McCoy recovered fumble
2nd-1, Tex38 11:26 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 12 yard gain
1st-10, 50 9:46 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley down the middle for 10 yard gain
1st-10, Okla40 9:46 C. McCoy passed to J. Kirkendoll to the right for 6 yard gain
2nd-4, Okla34 9:46 C. McCoy passed to B. Collins down the middle for 4 yard loss
3rd-8, Okla38 8:16 C. McCoy passed to J. Shipley down the middle for 37 yard gain

1st-1, Okla1

38-35 Texas

7:46 C. Johnson rushed up the middle for 1 yard touchdown. 2pt attempt converted, C. McCoy pass to Q. Cosby

Texas won this game because they had an answer for everything. Oklahoma’s biggest shortcoming was not being able to prevent Texas from answering. You have to give the Longhorns credit for coming up with the key plays when needed. Colt McCoy just seemed to be one step ahead of the Sooner defense.

1st-10, Okla38 7:30 S. Bradford passed to J. Iglesias down the middle for 7 yard gain
2nd-3, Okla45 7:30 D. Murray rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-2, Okla46 7:30 S. Bradford incomplete pass down the middle
4th-2, Okla46 7:30 M. Knall punt, no return

Here’s what I don’t understand. When the Sooners were up they faked a punt and were unsuccessful but when trailing by 3 they punted the ball away on 4th and 2. Again hindsight is 20/20 and unlike Bob Stoops we have the luxury of second guessing but why not go for it? When Oklahoma punted the ball away I said, much to the dismay of the people around me in section 30, that the game was over. Turns out I was right.

 

Two yards, two lousy yards! I would bet every time on Oklahoma picking that up with the game on the line.   

1st-10, Tex20 6:32 C. Ogbonnaya rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, Tex23 6:32 C. McCoy passed to Q. Cosby to the right for 3 yard gain
3rd-4, Tex26 6:32 C. McCoy passed to C. Ogbonnaya down the middle for 10 yard gain
1st-10, Tex36 5:12 C. Ogbonnaya rushed to the right for 62 yard gain
1st-2, Okla2 4:52 C. McCoy incomplete pass to the right
2nd-2, Okla2 4:52 C. Johnson rushed up the middle for 2 yard touchdown. H. Lawrence made PAT

Our man Brandon Crown was out of position and failed to fill the gap on Ogbonnaya’s 62 yard run. This was the final nail in Oklahoma’s coffin. Here’s some numbers for you. With Reynolds in the game the Sooner defense gave up 198 yards and 13 points. With Reynolds gone the defense allowed 288 yards and 24 points.