Saturday November 22, 2008 - Oh, what a glorious day! It's like Christmas came a month early for the Oklahoma Sooners and their fans. However, what a few have deemed as a dream come true has become a nightmare for college football analysts and bloggers. I'm going to do my best to break down this situation.
Let's begin by looking at their matchups with one another:
Texas vs. Oklahoma (neutral): This was one of the best Red River Shootouts of recent memory. Both teams played well. In the first half, Oklahoma looked to be the dominant team. At halftime, even the analysts stated that Texas was lucky to still be in the game. With each team's opening possessions of the 2nd half, it appeared that Oklahoma's dominance would continue. Then the nightmare began. With a lead of 28-20, Oklahoma's defensive leader, Ryan Reynolds, suffered a torn ACL. He was lost for the season. Say what you will about the effect of 1 player, but before Reynolds left the game Oklahoma had held Texas to 20 points and an average of 4.6 yards per play. Texas' run game was non-existent as Reynolds either stopped everything that came his way or forced it another direction. After Reynolds left the game, Oklahoma gave up 25 points and 8.3 yards per play, and Texas' rushing attack exploded. There were questionable calls on both sides of the ball, but the better team that day ultimately won.
Texas vs. Texas Tech (@ Texas Tech): The first half was all Texas Tech. The Longhorns could do nothing on offense, and while they made a few stops on defense, they still found themselves down 19-0 before their offense finally picked up a field goal. Halftime score: 22-3. In the 3rd quarter, Texas appeared to be finding their groove as their offense picked up 16 points, and their defense held Texas Tech to a single touchdown. End of 3rd quarter: 29-19. 13 minutes and 31 seconds of the 4th quarter was all Texas as they outscored Texas Tech 14-3. Unfortunately for Texas, a quarter consists of 15 full minutes. Texas Tech's offense pulled through, and the Red Raiders felled the #1 team in the nation 39-33. Texas had a decent 2nd half, but the overall body of work belonged to the Red Raiders, and the better team that day ultimately won.
Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma (@ Oklahoma): Amazing. Perfect. There are few words to describe what this game turned out to be, especially for the Sooners and their fans. Texas Tech's high-scoring offense came into town only to be absolutely shut down by a defense that had been average at best all season. It was almost as if Brent Venables had a copy of not only Mike Leach's playbook but also the order in which he would run those plays. After an impressive 1st half by both the offense and defense, Oklahoma had an insurmountable 42-7 lead. The 2nd half wasn't much different, and Oklahoma not only held Texas Tech to it's smallest point total (21) of the season but also scored more points (65) on them then they had ever had scored on them in the history of their program.
So what do we have?
Oklahoma loses on a neutral field to Texas by a score of 45-35. Obvious advantage to Texas in the Big 12 South.
Next Texas loses to Texas Tech in Lubbock by a score of 39-33. Advantage to Texas Tech in the Big 12 South.
Finally, Texas Tech loses to Oklahoma in Norman by a score of 65-21.
The question now is, "Who has the advantage?" Let's look at their other bodies of work and decide.
As we look at their notable wins, we will look at each opponent's current ranking rather than their ranking at the time.
Texas Notable Wins
#3 Oklahoma (neutral) 45-35
#13 Missouri (home) 56-31
#12 Oklahoma State (home) 28-24
Oklahoma Notable Wins
#16 Cincinatti (home) 52-26
#15 TCU (home) 35-10
#7 Texas Tech (home) 65-21
Texas Tech Notable Wins
#2 Texas (home) 39-33
#12 Oklahoma State (home) 56-20
As of now, Texas appears to have the advantage. First of all, their only loss was on the road, and it was by only 6 points. Secondly, they have 3 wins against teams that are currently ranked in the top 13 with the highest one ranked #3. Oklahoma appears to be second in line with also 3 wins over ranked teams. However, 2 of the teams are outside the top 13, and their highest ranked opponent is at #7. Texas Tech is at the disadvantage with wins over only 2 ranked teams.
What do these 3 teams all have in common? None of them have beaten a formidable foe on the road. Texas and Texas Tech both had their chance to defeat a ranked opponent on the road but came up short. Oklahoma has yet to get that chance. They will on Saturday. One has to assume that a win over #12 ranked Oklahoma State in Stillwater would give Oklahoma the clear advantage in the Big 12 South. A win over Oklahoma State would not only give Oklahoma 4 notable wins (more than Texas or Texas Tech), but it would make them the only team out of the 3 to show that they can win against tough competition in a less than favorable atmosphere.
It's time to stop with all this head to head nonsense and time to start giving credit where credit is due. Sure, Texas beat Oklahoma. How quickly we forget that Texas Tech controlled the game vs. Texas for 3/4 of the game and pulled the win. The argument that Texas is giving for not allowing the Sooners to be ranked above the Longhorns can be used against them by Texas Tech. A 3 way tie is just that. A tie. The only way to decide it is to look at the entire body of work. If Oklahoma wins in Stillwater on Saturday while Texas Tech and Texas are beating up on the 2 worst teams in the division, the advantage has to go to them.