There are two story lines to this match-up and it appears that we will see many bowl games between teams who have left a conference for another. The Cotton Bowl hit on a biggie here with the Aggies and Sooners. First, you have the first ever frosh to win the Heisman in Johnny Manziel trying to keep the streak alive of proving there’s no such thing as a Heisman curse. The winners are 4 and 6 in the last 10 games they played after receiving the award. After losing four straight, which included former Buckeye Troy Smith, they are on a three game winning streak. In 5 of the 7 games during the last two streaks were winners playing for a National Title, Mark Ingram and Cam Newton were the only two winners in those games.
Second, you have a game that everyone is calling a good rivalry out of what use to be an annual Big12 game. The Aggies and Sooners first played in 1903 which was hit or miss for several years and the Aggies won 3 of the first 4. They picked back up close to the end of WW2 and after the ’51 season went forty plus years before getting back on track in 1993. Since then, the Sooners have dominated the rivalry having won 12 of 18 and took over the series in the 2000′s winning every year save for 2002 and 2010. The Aggies moved to the SEC and have surprised everyone with the season they’ve had upsetting Alabama along the way, thus winning the Heisman for Johnny Football.
The Aggies had an opportunity to represent the SEC in a BCS Bowl in their first year in the conference and fell just a bit short having three other SEC teams ranked above them in the polls (Floriday, Alabama, LSU). Their season has hinged on the Heisman winning efforts of their start frosh QB and upsetting the number one team in the nation on their turf in Alabama.
Playmakers: Kevin Sumlin has done a fantastic job with the Aggies and is a rookie just like his QB Johnny Manziel. Not only did the main man on the roster win the Heisman trophy this season, he also went on to break Cam Newtons SEC record for total yardage along the way. He passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns while running for 1,181 yards and 19 scores. That made him the first freshman, first SEC player and fifth player overall to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season. He hasn’t played the Sooners yet, but is sure to have a big impact in the game.
Defensively, the Aggies have players that like to hit and hit hard. They have dictated the pace of some of the games this season against opponents which has allowed their offense to get the ball often. It all starts up front and the team leader is DL Damontre Moore. The 6’4″ 250 lineman out of Texas is one of the nations leaders with 12 1/2 sacks and likes to disrupt things. Moore has already declared for the NFL draft and stands to be drafted high in one is sure to be a defensive linemen’s year.
Season High-Low: Head Coach Kevin Sumlin has two words for you, never underestimate. In a season where nobody expected much out of the first year SEC member Aggies, someone forgot to tell him he was suppose to lose, and lose big. After spending a large portion of his career learning the tricks of the trade from one of the best in Bob Stoops, Sumlin showed them off in Houston and now as the Aggies looking to be a front runner in just his second year.
The season low can also be summed up in two words, sooooo close! Their only two losses on the season were to LSU and Florida and by a combined 8 points and had their chances to win the games. They sent a message early in the season that they were ready for SEC football and were not your typical Big12 squad. The high is easy, Alabama on the road, and they were number one. That win in itself is a definer of their head coach and the reason this will be a season to remember for a long time.
The Oklahoma Sooners have one of my favorite head coaches in Bob Stoops. He has accomplished much in his career which includes a National Title in his second season, but he also has been on the proverbial hot-seat in Norman having not duplicated the task since. The Sooners have been in the thick of things over the years and have a chip on their shoulder headed into this game. They have two losses on the season, both are participating in the last two BCS games including the National title. This game stands a chance of being better than both.
Playmakers: Landry Jones has had quite the career under the tutelage of Bob Stoops, and he’s also been on and off the Heisman watch list more times than Denard Robinson. There’s just no denying he is the playmaker of this football team and likes to put up the points. A ridiculous 332 for 507 for 3989, and 29 TD’s against only 10 INT’s, he has spread the wealth and has four WR’s with over 500 yards receiving.
Defensively, the Sooners have two players with 9 INT’s between them and both should be ball hawking quite a bit during this game. Javon Harris(5 and 1 TD) and Aaron Colvin(4) have been the heart and soul of a defense that plays in a pass happy spread offensive conference. They both have a nose for the ball and can light up the ball carrier as well. If the sooners have a shot, it’ll be because of the turnover’s these two create.
Season High-Low: The Sooners lost half of the games they played against ranked opponents this season. The y won the Red River Shootout in convincing fashion, but needed to score more than 50 to beat their in-state rival Oklahoma State. They also needed to score more than that the previous week to beat the Mountaineers on the road. They lost both games in which the opponent had a good enough defense to avoid a shootout(K-State ND) and keep the Sooners offense off the field. Their defeat of the Longhorns in a big rout (63-21) can always be the highlight of the season, but this team wanted to be playing for it all.
Opponents Against OSU: The Buckeyes have enjoyed success against the Aggies over the years and hold a 4-0 record against them. There last match-up came in the 1998 season Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1999. The Buckeyes would struggle against the Aggies but defense would be the difference maker. Buckeyes 24 to 17
Like I have said previously in another article, it truly amazes me how little some of the perennial powers in the history of college football, have not played. The Buckeyes and Sooners have only met twice, back in 1977 in the Shoe and suffered a one point loss 29-28.The Buckeyes returned the favor in Norman in 1983 24-14.
They have split their series and are on a collision course to hopefully settle the tie in Norman in 2016 and again back in the Shoe in 2017. I imagine Stoops will still be at the helm and these could be great games between two Ohio boys who are from opposite sides of the state, but got their starts in coaching at about the same time(late 80′s). Buckeyes win this time 28 to 24
Expert Picks: OK: WVa; Jason aTm: Eric, Mali, Gary, Tim, Janelle,
Prediction: aTm’s offense is ranked third in total offense in the nation having run 959 plays for 6,628 yards and scoring 72 TD’s against the tenth ranked offense in the Sooners with 922 plays for 6,071 yards and 63 TD’s scored. Defensively is where the difference will lie in this game. Oklahoma’s 45th ranked defense has given up 35 TD’s as has the 56th ranked defense of the Aggies. There’s only an eleven yards per game allowed difference between the two and the Sooners hold that advantage. Where the real advantage is in the secondary for the Sooners. They have a pass defense that the Aggies haven’t seen all season, save for Alabama. Oklahoma is near the top 25 in pass defense with 12 INT’s and only allowing 9 TD’s passing all season! Sooners 39 to 32