Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ag Football Recap: Helpless Sooners Get Steamrolled by Ags, 41-13

This game was sold out before we were even announced as playing in it but thanks to one of the best gifts ever (from my father-in-law), Sean and I were able to attend.  We both took a vacation day on Friday and drove up to Dallas to meet up with my in-laws and drive to the game together.

Parking at Jerry's World is always crazy but its always interesting walking through the tailgaters as we're trying to figure out which gate we are standing in front of and which gate we need to enter through (because no matter what, they're never the same).
Once we got inside we had to split up to go to our respective seats.  Sean and I found ours, only to discover they weren't ours - we were a section too far over.  That's always an embarrassing verbal exchange, regardless of how polite both sides are.

This was a weird bowl game for me.  When we played Mizzou back in November I thought we were invincible and were going to roll whoever they match up against us but over the time off my old pessimistic self crept back into my head.  After watching LSU and Florida lose their bowl games, I started to buy into the thought that the 3 point Vegas line on the game was actually right.

I know a lot of Ags were slightly concerned about whether Johnny would show up focused after his Heisman ceremony and the celebrity tour he has been on.  He did Letterman, Leno, sat courtside for a Mavs/Heat game & chilled with Lebron after the game, pulled suites at a Cowboys game, was spotted in an Oklahoma casino, sat courtside at a Rockets game - and then chilled in lockerroom, went golfing with the Jonas Bros, etc.).

This, of course, was a pre-game topic of conversation but my father-in-law nailed it.....this is Sumlin's team with Sumlin's attitude.  He was right.

We went into half-time clinging to a 14-13 lead.....and then pulled away in the second half to finish with a 41-13 vitctory.
What an absolutely dominating performance that game was.  First of all, Johnny went crazy on Stoops' defense:
  • Cotton Bowl MVP
  • Individually, he had 516 yards of offense (229 rushing/287 passing) with 4 TDs (2/2) - his yardage broke the Cotton Bowl record by over 100 yards
  • Johnny ran for the 4th most yards in Cotton Bowl history
  • He set the NCAA Bowl Record for rushing yards in a game by a QB
  • Missed throwing for 300 and rushing for 200 by 13 passing yards - that has been accomplished once in NCAA history (he did become the the first A&M and SEC player to go 200/200)
  • Became 4th QB in NCAA history to have 20 rushing and 20 passing TDs in a season
  • The 633 yards of offense by team was Cotton Bowl record
  • The offense averaged 9.6 ypp (Cotton Bowl record)
I think that anyone who thought he didn't deserve the Heisman changed their minds (because they watched him play for the first time - it's the only reason they wouldn't have thought it earlier).

On the flip side, the defense was STOUT.  We held the #11 scoring offense in the country to one (1) touchdown on the evening.
I thought that Dustin Harris and Tony Hurd Jr. played their best games of the season.  Damontre Moore was solid as expected and Alonzo Williams also made his first career start on the DL.

Ryan Swope, who broke the school record for career receptions earlier in the season, took the record for career yards in the season finale as well - he ended his brilliant career with a total of 252 catches for 3,117 yards and 24 TDs (2nd in school history).  He had 104 yards and a TD on 8 receptions against the Sooners.

Mike Evans and EZ both added 80+ yards and EZ had an emotional final TD to put the exclamation point on the ballgame.

This game instantly jumps into my Top 3 All-Time Games I've Been To along with the '02 OU game and the '10 Nebraska game.  I'm not exactly sure where it falls - they're all a blur in my mind at this point - but there is no doubt I haven't had as much fun at a game in a long time.

One of the moments that I will take away was when the War Hymn was played at the end of the third quarter.  It was a rare moment when there was nothing else going on in the stadium - no advertisements or announcements or introduction or baton tossing - just the FTAB and 50,000 Ags in full voice celebrating not only a great game but a great season.  It echoed in my ears long after we walked out of the stadium.

We also got our first real opportunity for the "SEC!  SEC!  SEC!" chant. I'll be honest, it was a poor first effort - out of sync, differing speeds.  It'll get better, I have no doubt about that.

After the game we found an IHOP and had a surprisingly wonderful meal as we rehashed every exciting moment of the game.  When we got back to the house I'm not sure anyone had anything left in the tank - I know I was asleep within minutes.

Simply a wonderful game to cap off a wonderful season.

I cannot wait until the M&W game.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cotton Bowl Preview: #11 Oklahoma

I went through all my game previews through the years and I noticed that I have never taken a historical look at OU's program.

The Sooners truly are one of the best programs in college football - one that I think is highly underrated when you're talking about the premier college football teams historically. 

They had three separate truly dominant eras.
Bud Wilkinson
The first of those three was under head coach Bud Wilkinson.  Wilkinson won three National Championships while played QB for Minnesota and was just as dominant on the sidelines in Norman.  He won 14 conference titles (thirteen in a row) and three National Championships ('50, '55, '56).

A few years back I read Jim Dent's The Undefeated, which told the story of the Sooners' 10 year stretch of dominance from '48-'57 under Wilkinson. They went 94-4-2 with two seperate win-streaks of 31 and 47 games.  During the 11 year span from 1948-1958 the Sooners lost more than one game in a season only once.  Wilkinson really made the Sooner state forget that they were a bunch of Tom Joads by giving them something to be proud of.

Interesting fact - one of Wilkinson's QBs at Oklahoma was a guy by the name of Darrell K. Royal.
Barry Switzer

The next stretch of dominance was under Barry Switzer, who took over in 1973 (he was previously their OC) and went on to win National Championships in '74, '75, & '85.

There were two things that fascinated me while reading his autobiography, Bootlegger's Boy.  One was that as an assistant coach at Arkansas he had two players that went by the names of Jimmy Johnson & Jerry Jones.  Yeah, that Jimmy Johnson & Jerry Jones. 
The Selmon Brothers
The other was that he landed a trio of brothers Lee Roy, Lucious, & Dewey Selmon - each of whom brought home unanimous All-American honors (a total of five between the three).  They all played together on the DL in 1973.  Apparently the saying in Norman in those times was, "God Bless Mrs. Selmon."

Their third era began when Bob Stoops took over the program in 1999.  They've been really good since then.  8 BCS Bowl appearances, including three National Championship games and one NC trophy.  That's a pretty good run.
Stoops has also added two Heisman winners under his belt but, in my opinion, the best player of the Stoops era was Adrian Peterson.  A.D. was like a man amongst boys on the field.

I've noticed that a lot of schools have given their Heisman winners a statue, but OU is probably the only school that has enough of them to call it Heisman Park.
Heisman Park in Norman, Ok
Billy Vessells won it in '52, Steve Owens in '69 (his trophy is displayed in the Coach's Restaurant in downtown Norman), Billy Sims in '78 (he's the loud annoying guy every year at the Heisman Ceremony) and then more recently, Jason "Eternally Eligible" White in '03 and Sam Bradford in '08.  You have to admit, that's pretty impressive.

The name Sooners came from the Oklahoma Territory Land Run back in 1889 - the Sooners were the ones who left early and the Boomers were the ones who waited for the gun to go off.  Think Tom Cruise in Far & Away.  That's why they're known in theses parts as the Land Thieves.

The Sooners play their home games at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.  They are typically pretty good there - from '99-'11 they lost two home games....but this year they lost twice (to currently ranked #5 Kansas State and #1 Notre Dame).  The stadium holds 82,000 but they can cram 85-86K in there.

A&M and Oklahoma have a pretty nice history against each other with 30 head-to-head bouts, including 18 times in the last 19 years.  The five games that are typically discussed around here are the
  • '97 - Ags won 56-7 
  • '00 - #1 OU snuck past Ags, 35-31
  • '02 - Ags upset #1 OU (Reggie's coming out party)
  • '03 - 77-0
  • '10 - Ags win 33-19 over #8 OU during magical November run
 Hopefully this year's game will make the our favor.

I'm not going to dive in too deeply into analyzing this year's matchup.  I don't have any particular venom towards OU, especially now that former DC, Brent Venables, is gone. 

This is not one of Stoops' best Sooner squads but it's still a really good team.  We do have somewhat of an advantage in that Sumlin has been in the trenches with Stoops and we know what they do on offense fairly well with their spread attack.

 aTm O v. OU D
 13  Rush  79
 13  Pass  26
  3   Tot  45
  3  Scor  40

Our offense is impressive because we did it against the SEC.  OU's defense (particularly pass defense) is impressive because they did it against the Big 12.

 OU O v. aTm D
 59  Rush  37

  4  Pass  80
 10   Tot  56

 11  Scor  29

OU's offense is inflated because they got to light up the terrible Big 12 defenses.  Our defense is inflated due to the handful of inept SEC offenses. 

We'll see who bucks the trends more.  Frankly, as it seems it always is in bowl games - the winner will come down to QB play, turnovers, and special teams play.