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Controlling the clock will be key for Texas vs. Oklahoma in Big 12 Championship

Just as they did in October, the Longhorns can keep the Sooners offense off the field and limit its possessions by dominating the ball.

Oklahoma v Texas Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When the Texas Longhorns dealt the Oklahoma Sooners their first and only defeat in the Red River Showdown in early October, they did so behind a few key areas of success.

Turnovers come to mind, as Texas won the turnover battle 3-to-0, cashing in with 10 points, and the Longhorns loomed large around the line of scrimmage, forcing a sack and seven quarterback hurries on the elusive Kyler Murray.

More telling than maybe any other stat, though, is the time of possession advantage Texas enjoyed in a game that came down to the final seconds.

Despite the game capping with a narrow three-point Texas cushion, 48-45, the Longhorns controlled the ball for 7:40 more than the Sooners, winning the time of possession battle, 33:50 to 26:10. In a game that saw the Sooners fall behind 31-17 and then erupt for four second-half touchdown drives, which collectively required only 13 plays and a mere 4:27 from the clock, quite literally every second Texas chewed from the clock proved paramount.

Even when the Sooners hinged their hope upon the nine ticks remaining after what proved to be Cameron Dicker’s game-winning field goal, Oklahoma did hold hope because of what transpired minutes before when Murray dashed to the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown run in just 11 seconds.

This potent firepower hasn’t ceased since the Texas game, and more likely than not, Oklahoma will be able to produce points in short order once again on Saturday.

That much is to be expected.

How can Texas respond, aside from producing points of its own? Well, by doing exactly what it did the last time around — controlling the clock and slowing the game down.

During their Red River Showdown win, the Longhorns pieced together six drives that chewed up at least three minutes from the clock; three of which eclipsed the four-minute mark. Of those six instances, Texas cashed in with 28 points behind four touchdowns, which was equally as essential to ultimately outlasting Oklahoma. Furthermore, five Texas drives went for at least eight plays, which each example ending in points — four touchdowns, and the game-winning field goal drive.

“We’ve had 21, 10 or more play drives that have resulted in scores. That’s good for fifth in the country,” head coach Tom Herman said on Monday during his weekly press conference.

Without the lengthy drives, the clock-chewing drives, there’s a convincing case to be made that the Longhorns likely lose on Saturday, especially when bearing in mind that Oklahoma outscored Texas 21-3 in the final frame.

The good news to that end, however, is the Longhorns didn’t control the clock by sheer luck. Texas has won the time of possession battle 10 times in 12 tries this season, and the Longhorns own a 9-1 record under these circumstances — the lone loss came against West Virginia. If the Longhorns are to secure their second win over the Sooners this season on Saturday, it will almost certainly be because Texas has now won the time of possession battle 11 times in 13 appearances.

If Murray spends more time on the field than Sam Ehlinger? A fourth Big 12 title for Texas will almost certainly have to wait at least one more season.