Texas or Oklahoma ... Who Deserves The South?

Posted Nov 30, 2008

Texas or Oklahoma? Oklahoma or Texas? With all due respect to Texas Tech, the debate of the 2008 season, with the Big 12 South and possibly a spot in the BCS Championship at stake, comes down to splitting hairs. Pete Fiutak gives five reasons why each deserves the coveted honor of playing Missouri next week.

The Texas vs. Oklahoma Debate

Who Deserves It?

By Pete Fiutak   

For right or wrong, for all intents and purposes, Texas Tech isn't in the three-way argument for the Big 12 South title after getting blasted by Oklahoma. So now, to compare apples to oranges, or BCS Championship games to Fiestas, here are five reasons why each belongs in the Big 12 title game.

The 5 Reasons Oklahoma Should Be In The Big 12 Championship ...

5. The Hot Team Theory
The Big 12 has to look at the potential national title matchup and ask itself which team might really be better equipped to win. Texas might be playing extremely well, but no one's hotter in all three phases than Florida. With all due respect to Alabama, the Gators are the heavy favorites to win the SEC Championship and go to Miami to play for the national championship. Texas is a more complete team than OU, and it could give Florida a hard time, but Oklahoma has the better equipped team to win in an inevitable shootout. Florida is going to put up 45 points on the board against any team it plays in Miami. If you're the Big 12, would you rather have Texas or Oklahoma in a fast-break game? Don't scoff at this notion. It hasn't been unheard of for a conference to break a tie by choosing the team with the seemingly best chance of winning a big game. The Big Ten did this in 1973 when it chose Ohio State over Michigan to play in the Rose Bowl, after the two tied 10-10, because Wolverine QB Dennis Franklin suffered an injury. (BTW, the Buckeyes went on to blast USC 42-21).

4. The Texas Tech Factor
Forget the dog-chase-tail logic that led to the tie-breaker discussion in the first place because this is being broken down by Oklahoma vs. Texas by the pollsters, and they don't really care that Texas lost to Texas Tech. OU loses that argument because it keeps coming back to the Red River Rivalry. However, the pollsters do care that Oklahoma obliterated a Red Raider team that was coming in on a roll. If you beat the No. 2 team in the country 65-21, you've earned your style points for the rest of the year. Considering the circumstances, and the ranking, it could be argued that it was the most impressive victory of the year by anyone in college football.

3. The Non-Conference Games
Everyone has a few duds to blow off, but don't blame OU for getting Washington when it turned horrendous. Remember, the Husky team OU faced still had Jake Locker and was coming off the controversial last-second, celebration penalty loss to BYU. OU went to Seattle and won in a walk, and it also beat Cincinnati, who'd end up winning the Big East title, by 26, and it blowout a strong TCU team 35-10. When all is said and done, the best Texas non-conference victory this year came against Rice. Fine, maybe it was Arkansas, but OU's wins over Cincinnati and TCU were far more impressive.

2. Oklahoma State
It has sort of been washed aside, but Texas needed everything in the bag to get by Oklahoma State at home in a 28-24 win. The Cowboys are certainly good, but Texas had them in its house and struggled to come up with the victory. It was OSU's second road game in three weeks, with the other coming against Missouri. On the flip side, the Cowboys had two weeks off to rest up and prepare for the home date against Oklahoma, and while they played well offensively, they still got ripped up by 20. All the pressure was on OU in the rivalry game, and it came through.

1. The Offense Really Is Unstoppable
Who scores 312 points in a five-game span? On this run, the Sooners have hit the 60-point mark in four straight games, and scored 58 against Kansas State, and have made it look easy. The offensive line, possibly the best in the Bob Stoops era, is giving Sam Bradford ten days to throw, and Bradford is making every throw and every big play. 674 yards against Kansas. 653 against Texas A&M. 625 against Texas Tech. 592 against Cincinnati. 436 against TCU. The Sooners are putting up pinball numbers against some not-that-bad defenses. They're making it look like a scrimmage. 

The 5 Reasons Texas Should Be In The Big 12 Championship ...

5. Oklahoma 57 ... Chattanooga 2
If you take the Chattanooga game out of the mix, Oklahoma played a tougher schedule than Texas. But you can't do that. When we're splitting hairs, every little thing counts; just ask the unbeaten 2004 Auburn team that got left out of the national title game partly because it played D-IAA Citadel. Texas will finish with the third toughest schedule in America, while Oklahoma will be around the 20s.

4. Margin Of Victory
Take away that ridiculous OU win over Chattanooga, one of the nation's worst FCS teams, and Texas and Oklahoma actually have almost the same margin of victory. Outside of the Chattanooga win, Oklahoma's average margin of victory is 26 points per game. Texas, over the 12-game season, averages out to a margin of victory of 25.5 points per game. Basically, Texas is blowing out teams just as impressively as Oklahoma, but it's just not doing it with the same bells and whistles.

3. Scoring Defense
Oh sure, the offense gets the chicks, but if you're going to be impressed by the Oklahoma Sooner juggernaut of an attack, then give the same credit to a Texas defense that was the best in the Big 12 by far when it came to the fewest points allowed. Missouri was second in the Big 12 in points allowed, giving up 296, while Texas allowed just 223.

2. The Texas Tech Loss
Lost in the finish of that game was how Texas showed tremendous pluck by getting back in it in the first place. OU got the Red Raiders at home, while Texas had to go to Lubbock. It took the greatest play in the biggest game in the history of Texas Tech football, with a perfect play made by a first round-caliber receiver, to beat the Longhorns with one second to play. Yeah, yeah, yeah, ifs and buts, but if
Blake Gideon had been able to hold on to a sure interception with 11 seconds to play, we wouldn't be having this discussion and we'd be breaking down No. 1 Texas vs. Missouri for the Big 12 title game. One drop and one second. That's the margin we're talking about here between a possible national championship and a BCS game with the hopes of finishing No. 2 in the final polls.

1. Texas 45 ... Oklahoma 35
There's just no getting around it. It's not like it was a fluke, and it's not like Sam Bradford and the Sooners had an off day. The OU offense rolled early, but the defense and special teams struggled in the clutch while the vaunted, supposedly unstoppable, attack scored seven points over the final 26:45. In the end, Texas won by ten points. Double digits. It's obvious, but it bears repeating. If we really are just comparing the two teams, then Texas has the slam-dunk, iron-clad winning argument. It beat Oklahoma. Oklahoma didn't beat Texas. That means the Longhorns might be sitting at home and watching two teams it beat by a combined score of 101 to 67.