Texas' Third Quarter Dominance Fuels Success

Even before Saturday's historic comeback win against Oklahoma State, Texas had owned the third quarter this season. The Horns have outscored opponents, 86-3, in the first 15 minutes of the second half. What makes Texas so dominant in arguably college football's most critical quarter?

Head coach Mack Brown said he honestly does not know.

"It's really a weird phenomena," Brown told me. "It's hard to figure why some teams come out and do well. I looked at it and I'd say we were adjusting to things better, but I've thought we made good (halftime) adjustments sometimes when we came out and threw an interception to start the second half. I'd like to brag on our coaches, but sometimes I don't see it that way."

No team has crossed the goal line during the third quarter against Texas this season. In fact, the only team to put points on the board during that frame was when Oklahoma settled for a 26-yard field goal. Just as impressive, the Horns held high-flying Texas Tech scoreless during the third quarter and distanced themselves from the point-a-minute Red Raiders by adding a pair of touchdowns during that span.

"We've started games better this year, too, than we have in a while," Brown said before quickly adding, "except for the last two."

Indeed, in both the Oklahoma State and Colorado games, QB Vince Young suffered two INTs and one fumble (that Texas recovered) during the first quarter before engineering the rout. Texas separated itself from the Buffaloes by scoring 17 points in the third quarter but that was the direct result of the defense shortening the field by forcing timely turnovers.

Against OSU, the defense fed off the offensive explosion that was ignited when Texas scored on the final possession of second quarter and first possession of the third quarter. Make that seven straight scores, as Texas tallied 49 unanswered points. But the 21 points scored in the third quarter finally knotted the game at 35 which previously resembled, in Brown's own words, a "train wreck."

"The third quarter was probably the most dominant third quarter that I've ever been around against a good team," Brown said. "We took the thing over completely."

The third quarter dominance extended to both sides of the ball. QB Vince Young turned in his best Michael Vick impersonation to date when he completed a school-record 12 straight passes during the third quarter against OSU, finishing the game with a career-best 278 passing and 124 yards rushing.

Texas tallied 266 yards of total offense while its defense held OSU to minus-five yards and no completions. Texas averaged 12.6 yards-per-play, collecting 11 first downs, during that stretch.

"We've never had a more important start to a second half than this one," Brown said.

Texas' third quarter dominance, while critical to this year's 8-1 record and current No. 6 BCS rating, may not be Texas' most eye-opening stat.

"The weirdest stat here is that we're like, 50-5, when we score first, which is weird," Brown said. "I don't know why that makes a difference except I'm not sure teams think they can beat Texas and if we score first, it beats them down a little more. If they score first, they get really excited. That may have something to do with it."

The Horns face Kansas in Lawrence Saturday for an 11 a.m. telecast on Fox Sports Net. The Jayhawks are 3-6 but have managed to play fairly evenly with opponents until, yep, the third quarter.

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