The Texas Longhorns entered today’s edition of the Red River Rivalry ranked 69th in the country in third down conversion success. You would not know that by watching the Longhorns today. You also may not realize Oklahoma’s defense is ranked 11th in the nation in third down defense.
Texas is leading Oklahoma at halftime, 23-10, and has the success on third down to thank for it. The Longhorns converted nine out of 12 third down attempts, a 75 percent success rate. The Longhorns had entered today converting on just 40.26 percent of their third down attempts, so clearly Bob Stoops and his defense have something to review at the half. If Texas continues to extend drives with that kind of success, Texas could very well wear down Oklahoma on their way to their first win in the Red River Rivalry since 2009.
The Texas game plan has been incredibly solid and focusing on the running game. Johnathan Gray leads all players with 82 yards and Case McCoy has been dependable with 125 passing yards and a touchdown, a 59 yard strike down the right sideline to Marcus Johnson on a wild third down conversion. The offense has been efficient, but the defense has done their part as well. Defensive lineman Chris Whaley intercepted a pass from Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell and returned it for a touchdown in the first quarter to give Texas a 10-3 lead. Oklahoma’s only touchdown of the half was set up by a long kickoff return by Roy Finch. Damien Williams rushed in for a short touchdown run to get the Sooners on the board and cut the Texas lead to 20-10. Had the score stayed that way who knows if Oklahoma could have built off of that momentum at the break. Instead, Texas made the most of their short time until halftime and tacked on three more points with a 43-yard field goal from Anthony Fera. Before Oklahoma had that long kickoff return, Fera had kicked a 50-yard field goal.
Can Texas keep it going in the second half, or will Oklahoma battle back?
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will not be disciplined by the SEC office for his brief interaction with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson last weekend. A video showing Bielema exaggerating his interaction with Robinson at the end of a play was reviewed by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and the commissioner has discussed the situation with the Razorbacks coach.
“I visited with Bret over the phone on Monday and we discussed the play that has now become widely reviewed through a brief video clip,” Sankey said in a released statement. “Football is played in an intense competitive environment and I reminded him of the need for head coaches to resolve with their own players issues that may arise, which was his intent. The unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the play was not directly associated with Bret’s efforts to intervene at the end of the play and we are moving forward in a positive manner.”
That appears to be the end of the discussion regarding Bielema’s act. I personally think there should have been some more done here by the league’s commissioner, but we will see if Bielema avoids putting himself in a similar position moving forward.
In the midst of what could be a dream season in South Philadelphia, the Temple Owls announced a rare sellout for a football game this afternoon. The October 31 game at home against Notre Dame has sold out Lincoln Financial Field. This is the first time Temple has sold out two home games in the same season since 1976, when the Owls began playing home games in one of Philadelphia’s pro sports stadiums.
This is the second sellout of the season for Temple, but it is also worth mentioning who the opponents are for those two games; Penn State and Notre Dame. Penn State is always Temple’s biggest draw when they get a chance to host the Nittany Lions and their legions of fans in and around the Delaware Valley. Temple dominated Penn State in the season opener, snapping a long losing streak against the in-state power. Notre Dame is also a big draw everywhere the Irish go, and there is a solid fanbase in the southeastern part of Philadelphia as well.
It is also a rare trip to Philadelphia for Notre Dame. The Irish last played in Philadelphia in 1993 when they faced Navy in Veterans Stadium. Navy also hosted Notre Dame in Philadelphia in 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1974. Notre Dame and Temple have never played in Philadelphia, although they did face each other in the 2013 season opener. This year’s game is the second game of a home-and-home series.
The game could potentially prove to play a key role in the evolving College Football Playoff and Group of Five conversation as well. If Temple avoids slipping up this week against UCF and next week at East Carolina and USC holds off USC, then we could have an undefeated and top 25 Temple program hosting a top 15 or even potential top 10 Notre Dame on Halloween. Let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse here, but that could be a very attractive matchup worth paying attention to at the end of the month for many fanbases.