If one merely glanced at the final score from the 38-35 road loss Saturday night by the Texas Longhorns to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, one might infer that overall, Texas performed fairly well, but just not well enough to escape a hostile homecoming environment with a win.
Some of the advanced metrics say the same thing — the percentile performance of 59 percent was only the third worst mark of the season and substantially better than the previous game against Baylor.
While in theory, the eyeball tests and that advanced metric tell the truth, at least in the form of a three-point deficit on the scoreboard and a reasonable outcome in the percentile performance, those positive assessments couldn’t be further from the truth on film.
The reality is this: Oklahoma State won, and largely did so in convincing fashion, as the Pokes never once trailed the No. 6 team in the nation. But in this case, the outcome isn’t quite as cut-and-dry as one team simply dominating another before a late rally.
Did Oklahoma State dominate Texas throughout the first three and a half quarters? Yes, but it did so with a mind-boggling abundance of help from self-inflicted wounds by its opponent, ranging from missed tackles to blown coverage assignments to mental miscues to a double-digit collection of penalties.
“We were plenty up,” Texas head coach Tom herman said on Monday. “We didn’t play good. “We were plenty — I thought, you know, the 24 hours leading up to the game, I thought we traveled well. Everybody was bright-eyed and busy-tailed. I mean, we were ready to go. So as to why we didn’t play well, I think, you know, there’s a lot of factors.
“One, it’s a really good team that we just played. A really good team. I know everybody wants to look at records, but I looked at players, and I look at coaches, and they have got really good players with really good coaches, and they did a really good job having their guys playing well, and we didn’t.”
Rather than try to paint a picture of what now may be the greatest example of Texas getting in its own way in recent memory, actually seeing the egregious collection of errors will likely have a more profound impact.
Oklahoma State’s first drive
- Cameron Dicker penalized for personal foul late hit out of bounds; Oklahoma State began opening drive from the 47-yard line.
- 3rd and 9: P.J. Locke took poor angle, beat for 12-yard gain.
- 1st and 10 on following play: Brandon Jones completely misjudged angle, could have made tackle around 16-yard line on Tylan Wallace’s 40-yard touchdown reception.
Oklahoma State’s second drive — Texas trailed 7-0
- 2nd and 7: Poor angle by Caden Sterns on blitz allowed Justice Hill to break free for 27-yard gain.
- 4th and 1: Blown coverage by Jones allowed Taylor Cornelius to connect with Jelani Woods for 16-yard touchdown pass.
Texas’ second drive — Texas trailed 14-7
- 1st and 10: Texas charged with delay of game on first play.
- 1st and 10: Lil’Jordan Humphrey dropped wide open pass, which would have gained at least 20 yards and possibly gone for a touchdown. Texas punted three plays later.
Oklahoma State’s third drive — Texas trailed 14-7
- 1st and 10: Blown coverage assignment allowed Landon Wolf to haul in 20-yard reception on first play of drive.
- 2nd and 4: BJ Foster missed a tackle and Justice Hill burst free for 14-yard gain.
Oklahoma State’s fourth drive — Texas trailed 17-7
- 1st and 10: Breckyn Hager misread read option, potential three-yard loss became 20-yard run for Chuba Hubbard.
Texas’ fourth drive — Texas trailed 17-7
- 3rd and 3: Collin Johnson dropped pass that likely would have moved the chains. Instead, Texas went three-and-out.
Oklahoma State’s fifth drive — Texas trailed 17-7
- 3rd and 7: Foster attempted awkward deflection, missed, then Sterns missed tackle to allow Wallace to pick up 27-yard reception and move into Texas territory.
- 3rd and 4: Locke, Sterns, Jones each missed would-be arm tackles on Cornelius run to half-yard line. Oklahoma State scored on the next play.
Oklahoma State’s seventh drive — Texas trailed 24-14
- 4th and 1: Taquon Graham jumped offsides, though the call was questionable as Oklahoma State simulated the snap with motion.
- 4th and 1: Kris Boyd mistimed jump on attempted pass deflection, Wallace hauled in a 36-yard touchdown pass. Jones appeared lost on the play as well.
Texas’ seventh drive — Texas trailed 31-14
- 3rd and 1: Humphrey not set at the snap, negating a nine-yard run by Tre Watson.
- 1st and 10: Johnson dropped potential 15-yard reception that would have placed Texas on the edge of field goal range with 21 seconds remaining in the first half.
Texas’ first drive of second half — Texas trailed 31-14
- 2nd and 11: Devin Durvernay dropped potential 12-yard reception to force third and long.
Oklahoma State’s first drive of second half — Texas trailed 31-14
- 3rd and 6: Charles Omenihu offset Texas stopping Oklahoma State just short to force fourth down with an offsides penalty. The Cowboys converted on the next play.
- 3rd and 1: P.J. Locke missed tackle allows potential two-yard loss to turn into a five-yard first down reception from Justice Hill.
- 1st and 10: Brandon Jones missed tackle on Chuba Hubbard allowed potential four-yard loss to turn into a two-yard gain.
Texas’ second drive of the second half — Texas trailed 31-14
- 1st and 10: Holding penalty on Andrew Beck on first play of the drive negated 46-yard pass to Collin Johnson. Texas ultimately went three-and-out.
Texas’ fourth drive of the second half — Texas trailed 31-21
- 1st and 10: Andrew Beck flagged for false start.
Oklahoma State’s fourth drive of the second half — Texas trailed 31-28
- 2nd and 6: Hager missed tackle, potential three-yard loss turned into a five-yard run by Hill.
- 4th and 1: Jones inexplicably fielded punt over his shoulder, narrowly avoiding safety. He was tackled at Texas’ two-yard line with 9:23 remaining.
Texas’ fifth drive of the second half — Texas trailed 31-28
- 3rd and 9: Patrick Vahe penalized for holding (should have been Calvin Anderson), negating potential 15-yard reception by Humphrey. Texas punted two plays later.
Oklahoma State’s fifth drive of the second half — Texas trails 31-28
- 2nd and 10: Hager flagged for offsides, potential 3rd and 10 becomes 2nd and 5.
- 3rd and Goal from the 10: Foster missed open-field tackle around eight-yard line on Cornelius touchdown run to push lead to 38-28.
First things first: This all isn’t to take away from a potential season-altering win for Oklahoma State. Were the situations switched, the tune would be Texas capitalizing on Oklahoma State’s errors and miscues and surviving for a gutty win, or something along those lines.
Taylor Cornelius was phenomenal, as was the Pokes rushing attack, and Tylan Wallace enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner, feasting on the Texas secondary to the tune of 222 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, though Texas still amassed more than 400 yards of offense and recorded its third-best scoring effort of the season, the Pokes secondary — and specifically, A.J. Green — did a tremendous job of limiting Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey; albeit with the help of numerous drops, but errors such as those are exactly why Texas is now 6-2, as opposed to 7-1 and eying the College Football Playoff.
All totaled, Texas committed 28 total miscues and errors — 17 defensively, nine offensively, and two on special teams — and this is just one man’s count. One could argue that errors are committed and could be exploited on nearly every play, but as far as Texas was concerned, 28 major errors occurred and they proved costly in the form of points by the opponent and drives ended early for the Longhorns offense.
The worst part for Texas? It could have committed something in the ballpark of 20 errors and still escaped Stillwater with a win.
For example, hypothetically speaking, errors forced the Longhorns to leave at least six points on the field, while a multitude of other miscues may have been the difference in Oklahoma State pouring on points in bunches and attempting field goal after field goal.
- Missed tackle by Jones on Wallace on Oklahoma State’s first drive allowed 40-yard touchdown reception, as opposed to being stopped at the 16-yard line.
- Blown coverage by Jones allowed Cornelius to connect with Woods for 16-yard touchdown pass on 4th and 1.
- Multiple missed tackles on 3rd and 4 ultimately led to an Oklahoma State touchdown and a 24-7 lead.
- Boyd mistimed jump, Jones appeared lost on the play as Tylan Wallace hauled in 36-yard touchdown reception on 4th and 1.
- Johnson dropped potential 15-yard reception that would have placed Texas on edge of field goal range with 21 seconds remaining in the first half.
- Holding penalty on Beck on first play of the drive negated a 46-yard pass to Johnson that would have placed Texas on the edge of field goal range.
- B.J. Foster missed an open-field tackle opportunity on Taylor Cornelius’ 10-yard touchdown run on 3rd and Goal to lift Oklahoma State’s lead to 38-28.
Herman often notes that Texas’ best is enough and that when the Longhorns play their A game, Texas can play with anyone in the country, but he also notes that anything less won’t be good enough. That may not be entirely true, as seen on Saturday.
Texas could have likely escaped with a win with its B game, if not its C+ game. Instead, more than two dozen errors and miscues garner a D+ grade, at best, and even then, Texas was just one third down stop away from getting the ball back for a potential game-tying or game-winning drive.
Of course, Texas didn’t make that stop, but far more notably, the Horns almost certainly wouldn’t have been in that position with the game hanging in the balance had it not suffered self-inflicted wounds from start to finish.