OSU-UT: Beware of the<br>Late First Half Drive

AUSTIN, Texas – The numbers defy belief. Last year Oklahoma State went to the halftime locker room with a 16-14 advantage over the Texas Longhorns only to be outscored in the second half 41-0 and lose to the Horns 55-16. The Cowboys appeared to make sure that wouldn't happen again as they rolled over Texas in the first half to a 35-14 lead on Saturday night.

However, the second half was a polar opposite to the first and with Texas and its crowd of 83,131 supporters going bonkers with every touchdown, the Longhorns did one better than a year ago as they outscored the Cowboys 42-0 in the second half for the greatest come-from-behind win in Texas football history. The final score read Texas 56, Oklahoma State 35.

In two seasons Texas has outscored Oklahoma State in the second 30 minutes by a 83-0 count. That alone is incredible, but try these numbers out from a miserable second half in Austin on Saturday night – Texas had a 16-6 advantage in first downs and 380 yards of total offense to 105 yards for Oklahoma State.

In the third quarter the Cowboys had just nine plays on offense with three punts while Texas was scoring four touchdowns. It was a nightmare, and as it continued the Texas crowd grew louder than they were even at the start of the game. One longtime Texas observer said he wasn't sure if the stadium wasn't louder than it had ever been, matching the historical significance of the Texas comeback.

How does something going so good, turn so bad? Blame it on one little – okay big – drive late in the first half.

Remember back to the Cowboys' last win. It was Columbia, Mo., and Oklahoma State trailed 17-0 as the invited guest for Missouri's homecoming. Just before halftime Vernand Morency breaks free on a couple of runs and Donovan Woods hooks up twice with his brother D'Juan, the second for a sensational touchdown with just seconds left in the half. The Cowboys rode the wave of emotion into the halftime locker room. Les Miles gave an inspiring speech about how his team would keep the surge going, and the Cowboys did all the way to a 20-17 victory.

Down 35-7, Texas got the ball on its own 20 and Vincent Young, the lowest rated quarterback in the Big 12, started hitting passes. It started with a 12-yard hook up with tailback Cedric Benson and eight plays later finished with a five-yard scoring pass to tight end Bo Scaife. In between Benson and Scaife each caught another pass and wide receiver Limas Sweed caught a pair, and tight end David Thomas caught the other.

It was 35-14 with three seconds left in the half and Texas went to the locker room feeling a lot better about its chances.

"It definitely helped them, getting some momentum going into the half," said Cowboy quarterback Donovan Woods who watched the drive from the sidelines. "It let them know that they could move the ball, and in the second half they took advantage of it."

"We'd have liked to have slowed them down prior to the half," said head coach Les Miles. "If they get three (field goal) or don't get in the end zone then they don't get quite the momentum swing, but they got the touchdown and then came out and scored at the start of the second half and we never get them stopped.

"We couldn't get off the field on defense and our offense couldn't make a play to get the momentum turned back toward us. If we'd made some plays like we did late in the game or in the first half then we'd have given that defense time to regroup, but we never did. We went void."

TBS sideline reporter Craig Sager went to the Texas dressing room at the half and listened to Texas head coach Mack Brown address his team.

"He told then that they had just let a very good team have a very good half on them," said Sager. "Then he told them that they were a great team and that they would go have a great half and win the game. He reminded them that they had scored 41 points last season in Stillwater and that they could do it again."

Oh and they did. Texas had the ball seven times in the second half. The first six drives ended with touchdowns. The seventh ended with Longhorns quarterback Vincent Young kneeling with the ball as the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard.

Texas scored 49 unanswered points! That would be hard to do against air, but credit the first seven points as the most important. The Cowboys know the value of a successful final first-half drive. They saw the magic it created in Columbia, and now they've felt the bitter sting it launched in Austin.

"They gave it to their favorite target in the seond half, the tight end," said linebacker Pagitte McGee, who had one of the first half interceptions. "I said, hey we've got to stop that, but we never did."

"They had a lot more intensity than we did, and the crowd got behind them," said Donovan Woods. "The crowd did a great job of giving them energy and they did a great job of feeding off of the crowd."

There is one item left to ponder. Since the Cowboys' comeback at Missouri the Tigers have gone into a season destroying spiral. They have lost two in a row (come to think of it so has Oklahoma State – a hard fought loss to Oklahoma and now a second half collapse of their own to Texas).

A slightly rejuvenated Baylor team comes to visit next and then two weeks later it's a trip to Lubbock and Texas Tech. With significant bowl possibilities to play for, will the Cowboys spiral like Mizzou or pull out and make this season a much more pleasant memory than a 6-5 final record?

One constructive suggestion would be make sure you have the ball last in the first half and do something with it. If not, stop that momentum creating score from going to work against you in the opposing locker room.

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