ARLINGTON, Texas — Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel walked through the bowels of Jerry World after a rough night at the office, flipping through his play sheets and chomping on his gum.
That Dentine got a workout.
On a night when Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M offense proved to be exactly what we thought they'd be, the Aggies were more than able to uphold their end of this expected shootout. The Sooners were not.
Texas A&M 41, OU 13.
“When you're playing against someone like that, you have to put up points, you've got to score, you've got to put pressure on them,” Sooner tailback Damien Williams said of going against Manziel and the Aggies. “I feel like we didn't put enough pressure on them.”
It's easy to point to the Sooners' offensive failings early in the second half, but the problems started well before that.
On the Sooners' opening possession of the game, they strung together a long and impressive drive. Landry Jones completed 6 of 8 passes. Trey Millard made a couple nice plays. Kenny Stills had a couple solid catches.
But even after having second and goal from the 1-yard line, OU didn't manage to score a touchdown. It sent Blake Bell into the game to take two cracks at the end zone from three feet away, and he got stuffed on second down and threw an incompletion on third down.
The Sooners had to settle for a field goal.
Four points left on the table.
On their next possession, there was another long and impressive drive, but again, it ended without a touchdown. The Sooners had first and goal from the 8-yard line but went incompletion, 1-yard run, incompletion.
Another field goal.
Another four more left on the table.
“Any time you kick it inside the 10-yard line,” Heupel said, “those are missed opportunities.”
OU finally punched in a touchdown on its final possession of the half to trail by only one at the break, but think how the complexion of this game would've changed had the Sooners converted those field goals to touchdowns. They would've led 21-13 at halftime. They would've had the momentum.
And as it was, they still felt pretty decent about what they'd done. A Cotton Bowl record 23 first-half completions for Landry Jones. One interception. No punts.
“The first half, I thought we were rolling,” Sooner center Gabe Ikard said. “The third quarter killed us.”
Did it ever.
After that no-punt first half, the Sooners came out of the halftime locker room and looked flatter than a crepe.
Three and out.
Three and out.
Three and out.
And as bad as that was, the specifics of those possessions were even worse.
On the first three-and-out, the Sooners faced third-and-4, and Jones threw to Damien Williams, who was nowhere near the first down marker. Got to get to the sticks. Got to throw past the sticks.
On the third three-and-out, Justin Brown stepped out of bounds and negated a third-down catch. It wouldn't have given the Sooners a first down, but it turned a fourth-and-short, think-about-going-for-it situation into a must-punt.
The Aggies threw a three-man front at the Sooners, much like Notre Dame did earlier in the season. It dropped eight guys into coverage and left Landry Jones very few places to throw the ball.
There were just too many miscues, too many details that fell through the cracks.
“Just weren't able to get the first first down and get into some of our tempo,” Heupel said. “Ultimately, I didn't put 'em in good positions on those first three drives, and we weren't good enough executing, and that's why you go three and out.”
And you know what Texas A&M did?
It made OU pay.
After each of those three-and-outs, the Aggies scored a touchdown. They turned a one-point halftime lead into a three-touchdown lead before the end of the third quarter.
“When you go three three-and-outs in a row against that offense,” Ikard said, “you're going to fall behind pretty quickly.”
Sooner coach Bob Stoops said, “You can't keep giving them opportunities.”
Giving the Aggies opportunities meant giving the ball to Manziel.
The Heisman Trophy winner was just as dazzling in person as he was on the highlights this season. He threw the ball fearlessly. He ran it like a squirrel trapped in a pie safe.
But more than anything, he finished drives. He produced touchdowns. He ran for two and threw for two more against the Sooners.
He did what the Sooners didn't.
“We just couldn't finish,” Williams said. “If we'd have been able to finish, this game would've turned out differently.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.