Daily Blog • January 4th



Texas A&M vs Oklahoma
TEXAS A&M (10-2) 244
8:00 pm • FOX • Cowboys Stadium • Arlington, TX

This is the Aggies 4th straight bowl game (1-2) but 1st under HC Sumlin who was 1-2 at Houston (did not coach last year’s win over PSU). Once the initial outrage over the Sooners losing out on a BCS bowl died down, OU realized it got a nice conciliation prize of facing Big 12 turncoat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. This is just the 2nd Cotton Bowl in OU history with the Sooners beating Arkansas 10-3 in 2001. Obviously, the former South rivals are quite familiar with one another with OU leading the series 11-5 in Big 12 play including last year’s 41-25 win. “Big Game Bob” Stoops is just 7-6 in bowls and faces his former pupil here in Sumlin who served as an assistant in Norman from ‘03-’07.

It was a memorable season in more ways than one for the Aggies. While many thought they would struggle in their 1st year of SEC play under new HC Sumlin, A&M did just the opposite. They obtained their first double-digit win season since ‘98 which including their 2nd win over a top ranked team. QB Manziel broke the SEC record for total offense and became the first freshman to be given the Heisman. He led my #2 ranked fast-paced offense to a school record 45 ppg, while also being the #1 rusher. The Malena/Michael 1-2 punch at RB combined for 1,169 yards (5.4) and 19 td’s and the run/pass mix (52-48) was well-balanced despite using 4-5 WR sets a majority of the time. Redshirt frosh Evans was a pleasant surprise leading the Aggies in rec while the reliable Swope is A&M’s all-time leader. The OL (avg 6’4” 308, 1 Sr st’r) should get a majority of the credit for the success as they allowed just 23 sacks (5.0%) while paving the way for 235 rush ypg (5.6). They are headlined by two future high draft picks in OT’s Joeckel and Matthews. It’s tough to judge the success of this year’s #32 D as the SEC doesn’t feature the high-powered offenses that the Big 12 has, but it fared adequately in the trenches allowing 3.7 ypc. Their star is converted DE Moore who is among the best in the NCAA in sacks and tfl and leads the team in tackles. Their 3 LB’s are #2, #3 and #4 in tackles as the Aggies allowed just 22.5 ppg a year after allowing 28.2 ppg last year. A&M ranks #38 in my pass eff D allowing a respectable 56% with a 16-11 ratio while the #48 ST’s has been hit or miss. K Bertolet is 1-6 from 30-39 but 3-4 from 50+ while P Epperson is among the nation’s best for a 2nd year in a row (40.3 net). Their coverage units rank among the Top 30 (PR 5.9, KR 20.1) while PR Harris leads the nation with 434 yards (13.2).

The Sooners’ national title dreams were shattered when they lost at home to KSU on Sept 22 although they rebounded to win 7 of their final 8 games to take a share of their 8th Big 12 Championship. OU has lost just 2 games this year to teams with combined records of 23-1 (KSU & #1 ND). The offense (#7) is led by OU’s all-time leading passer Jones who is the 1st QB in FBS history to throw for 3,000 yards and 26 td’s in all 4 seasons. The pass game did struggle early on due to inexperience as 7 of their top 8 WR’s or TE’s are in their 1st year in the program. Fresno St transfer Saunders (1065, 21.3 at FSU in ‘11) was finally declared eligible prior to the Texas game which stabilized the unit as he can play the slot freeing top WR Stills to go back outside. JC transfer WIlliams cooled off after a hot start with Clay filling in to run for 157 vs ISU when Williams was injured. Backup QB Bell is essentially the short yard RB in the Belldozer package running for 24 td’s in the last 2 years. Despite losing 59 career starts in the preseason and RT WIlliams for the last 2 the OL (6’5” 300) allowed just 14 sacks (2.7%). With Mike Stoops back in the fold as DC the Sooners have my #18 D although their base 4-2-5 has struggled vs physical offenses allowing 181 rush ypg (4.8). The DL (6’3” 285) had depth issues and compiled just 12.5 of the team 25 sacks with DE Ndulue leading the squad with 5. MLB Wort was the top LB tackler (T-#4) despite being replaced at times with the more athletic Shannon. OU is #2 in my pass eff D (198, 51%, 9-12) with the 4 starters in the secondary being the team’s top 4 tacklers led by the S combo of Jefferson and Harris. The #12 ST’s feature P Way (37.6 net) and strong PR (#6 FBS 14.9, 2 td) and KR (26.5, 1 td) units. K Hunnicutt hit 15-19 FG’s although only 2-4 from 40+. The coverage units allowed 8.1 on PR and 18.3 on KR.

At the start of the year, OU’s Jones was considered a Heisman hopeful and now at the end of the season, he may actually be facing the Heisman winner. OU won 9 of the last 10 vs A&M in Big 12 play including last year by a score of 41-25. While A&M is playing in its home state, OU is just as close coming in with its only 2 losses vs the BCS #1 and #5. This year A&M did knock off Bama, but it was a great situation for the Aggies. Boomer Sooner.