I wouldn't call myself much of an MMA fan, but I've watched my fair share of fights. For most casual observers, we like to see the highlight reel knockouts or the crazy submissions, while ground 'n pound often seems pretty boring and, for an untrained eye like mine, inconclusive. Who the heck won that fight when they just seemed to hug it out on the ground? However, there are a few ground 'n pound fights where someone gets slowly beaten down over five rounds. He's constantly on his back, and when he gets back up he gets taken down again. His opponent sits on him and gets several good shots to the face and bloodies him up. A round ends, a new one begins, and he keeps getting taken down and punched. It's slow and methodical, and by the end of the fight you can tell he wants no part of continuing and can't wait for that final bell to ring. When it does, while there was no sexy knockout or submission to end the fight, everyone knows that he received a good old-fashioned butt-kicking.
That's what this game was. We didn't get the lopsided, knockout scores like OU has gotten against us in the past, but by the end of the game, everyone who watched knew who got their rear ends handed to them. Texas physically dominated OU over the course of the game such that by the end, Malcolm Brown and our O-line were jamming the football down their beleaguered defense's throats. I can't believe I just wrote that. Or saw that, for that matter. We crushed OU on both sides of the LOS, and that's why we won the game.
Before the game, I wrote a good-natured OU hate piece where I stated that while we may be struggling, we only need to win Saturday, not a series against OU. However, I'll be the first to admit that that was mostly in good fun and to get myself excited for the game; I would never have dreamed of betting on not only a Texas victory but Texas imposing its will on Oklahoma. Yet here we are... Texas ran 60 times for 255 yards on Oklahoma for a slow, painful, and bruising 4.3 yards per carry. Our defensive line bottled up inside runs, put on a steady pass rush, and made Bell uncomfortable and antsy. Heck, Chris Whaley even got an interception return for a touchdown, and he probably thought he'd never score again after he switched from RB. Well, good decisions are often rewarded, Chris.
Don't get me wrong, a lot of players played well this game: Case, Shipley, Gray, MB1, the secondary, etc. And I'm sure they'll get their due credit from other writers. But for now, I just want to concentrate on the fact that we just flat kicked OU's butt in the trenches. It's been a while (2008?) since we could say that.
Oklahoma - Eh?
Now I'm going to get to the Sooners. Please don't misunderstand this as trying to steal credit from our boys or for providing excuses for OU, but I haven't the faintest clue what Oklahoma was trying to do. On offense, they never tried to use Bell in the running game in any meaningful sense, instead dooming him to failure by making him make throws he was clearly not comfortable with. Bell isn't fast but he's a big dude who can cut. I was waiting the whole game for them to unleash the QB running game on us and they never did. No read option. No QB draws. We did a good job of limiting his scrambles, but I can't imagine why they wouldn't test our defense with something we've struggled with all season. I asked why on earth they weren't using Bell's legs on both the BON and BC gamethreads, and the consensus was just a bunch of shrugged shoulders. I'm not claiming to be an X's and O's expert and I'm sure Heupel could wreck me on the whiteboard, but I know I'm not the only one asking these questions (cue furious OU fans).
Defensively, I'm not as critical of what they were doing except that they didn't really press our receivers and take away throws that Case can make. To Case's credit, he punished them over the top, but I think I would have approached that game differently. In any case, I'm fairly surprised by how OU decided to gameplan. Did Stoops finally let himself get complacent about the Texas game and focus on the future? Whatever the reason, I'm not complaining. Our coaches prepared well, theirs didn't, and that's why we got the convincing win.
That was sweet
I don't know what this means for Mack Brown's future, nor am I going to project too much from this for the rest of the season. I'm just going to go to sleep tonight with this pleasant thought: Oklahoma came into Dallas cocky and unprepared, and we physically dominated them for four quarters. Before the game, I thought we'd need a tremendous amount of luck to stay with OU, but instead we just took them to the ground and steadily elbowed and punched their face. At Texas, even when things are rough, that's always a great thing.