Whether it was mental mistakes, blown coverages, or penalties, the Texas Longhorns did not do themselves any favors on third downs, allowing the Oklahoma Sooners’ offense to stay on the field too long and come away with a 39-27 win in the Big 12 Championship game.
The Sooners converted on 57 percent (8-14) of their third-down conversions, the third-highest total Texas has allowed this season. A 58.33 percent and 66.67 percent conversion rate against the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Texas Tech Red Raiders, respectively, are the only worse performances this season.
It started for Texas early, as a third-down interception by Caden Sterns was overturned by a facemask penalty on senior cornerback Kris Boyd, allowing Oklahoma to kick a field goal on their first drive. OU’s second drive saw three third-down conversions before Texas forced an incompletion and forced the Sooners to settle for a field goal.
The most egregious example of Texas’s struggles on third down came on Oklahoma’s back-breaking fourth quarter drive. Oklahoma converted on third down from distances of six, nine, and 10, including the 18-yard touchdown to Grant Calcaterra beyond the hands of B.J. Foster to put the game out of reach.
Texas forced just two punts by the Sooners all game; their only three-and-out drives of the game, tying their second-worst performance of the season. Texas forced West Virginia to punt twice, while the Texas Tech punted only once in the loss.
Their inability to get the Sooners off the field on third down led to Oklahoma winning the time of possession battle, 32:00-to-28:00, which has been a key indicator for the Longhorns all year.
With Oklahoma winning the time of possession by four minutes, Texas falls to 0-3 in games where the opponent is able to control the clock. Conversely, Texas is 9-1 this season when winning the time of possession battle, the only loss coming on the last-second win by West Virginia.
Texas now waits to see what happens with the College Football Playoff selections. If the Oklahoma Sooners manage to make it into the playoff, Texas presumably will be selected to play in the Sugar Bowl, their first major bowl berth since the 2009 BCS National Championship game.