C-BOG: "That's One"

In his political and pop-culture infused off-beat commentary known as "Conner's Burnt Orange Glasses", Jeff Conner tells an old story and relates it to Texas' close victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday, which was Texas' "one" for this season.

One hundred years ago, as a newlywed couple rode to town, the mule pulling their wagon balked, refusing to move. The husband, after several minutes of frustration, jumped down and grabbed a 2x4 from the rear. As the wife looked on in disbelief, the husband calmly walked to the front of the beast, swung and hit the animal squarely between the eyes, knocking the dazed mule to it's knees. Angry, red in the face, the husband screamed, "That's one!"

A few miles later, the jackass once again stopped and stubbornly refused to respond to the husband's whistles, gees and shouts. Without hesitation, he once again disappeared to the back of the wagon. This time, the man produced a pistol, cocked it and shot the animal squarely between the eyes.

By now, the recently-married wife was hysterical. "What's wrong with you? Are you some kind of idiot? Do you know how much it'll cost to replace that mule? And how will we get home? We can't pull this wagon! Have you lost your mind?"

The husband, without batting an eye, looked squarely at his wife and said with a sneer: "That's one!"

My beloved, mighty, fighting Texas Longhorns took their mulligan Saturday afternoon. We traded in our get out of jail free card, used up all our favors, spent our saved-up good will and cashed in our limited-to-one-per-family store coupon.

Unlike getting Madonna's ankles behind her ears, it did not come easily. Our run defense had more holes than the dingo-ate-my-baby story Casey Anthony told police. We turned the ball over as carelessly as politicians throw around statistics, hookers whisper sweet nothings and Les Miles promises recruits playing time (are those three redundant?). We gave up kick-off returns longer than a fart in the shower. We made coaching decisions more bizarre than Barry Manilow doing a duet with Metallica on a Puccini aria. We had a harder time closing the deal than Harelip Harold, the incontinent used car salesman.

But somehow we still managed to come through in the end, win the game and to hang onto our number one status.

"That's one."

Long-time Longhorn fans are cynical by nature. Over the years we have had our hearts broken too many times to ever completely and unconditionally love and trust again. In a vain attempt to hurt our lover before she can wound us first, we pick apart our team's performances, criticizing each minute, perceived failure. Like a druid priest, we read the entrails, awaiting the disaster that is surely just around the corner.

Those of us who suffered through last season's roller coaster of ups, downs and lapses in effort have been holding our breath this fall. With justifiable skepticism we have waited for the too-good-to-be-true aspects of the 2008 Horns' run to come to a crashing, I-told-you-so halt. No way our boys go from barely eking out a win over Arkansas State to an 80% pass completion rate. Not possible that the team that laid an egg defensively against a weak A&M squad turns around and leads the nation in sacks. In 2007, we had trouble beating Baylor, for crying out loud; how could we possibly think we could hang on to the top BCS spot?

Come on. Be honest. Before the season started, after looking at our devastating back-to-back-to-back-to-back ranked team schedule, didn't every single one of us pencil in this year's team for at least two losses?

First, credit where credit is due. Clearly this particular Oklahoma State team is not Arkansas State, Baylor, or A&M. Coach Mike "YouTube" Gundy has not just assembled an impressive ball club, but also a physically imposing squad. This is not a dink and dunk lace-panty-wearing spread offense. These Cowboys are an old school, balanced, time of possession crew capable of throwing but also intent on running the ball over, through, and around you. Running back Kendall Hunter was impressive, moving with a combination of lateral movement and strength reminiscent of the Pokes only Heisman winner, Barry Sanders. Their defensive backs hit Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley as hard as I've seen them hit in the last two years. OSU's defensive line held UT's running game in check and limited the effectiveness of Colt McCoy's scrambles.

In short, we beat a good football team.

Is this Oak State team worthy of a high national ranking in the sense they could beat USC or Florida on a neutral field? Probably not, but these guys will give Texas Tech and Oklahoma a migraine bigger than Jennifer Love Hewitt's bust line.

Also, we need to acknowledge that lots of good things happened for Texas on both sides of the ball. Offensively, we put up more than 500 yards from scrimmage. I don't care if you're playing North Texas, that's still a good day. Take away the two turnovers and the too-clever-for-our-own-good fourth down goal line pass call late in the game, and the Horns win by 13 to 24 points – depending on converting touchdowns or field goals. That's about where most of us thought this game would be.

Defensively, we are reading screen passes better than any time since Coach Mack has been in Austin. OSU's failed fourth quarter fourth down toss to super wide receiver Dez Bryant is a perfect example. Despite our horrific tackling, the lack of pressure with our front four and occasional failure to get our plays called in time (a holdover from the OU game), our defense bowed up and stopped Oak State when we absolutely had to.

So let the spin begin and the clichés flow like … I don't know – something that flows. Tech head coach Mike Leach has been variously described as: 1) a pirate, 2) a riverboat gambler, 3) a pass-happy mad scientist or 4) a high-functioning autistic. I dread this coming week, because the pre-game hype will blow like the West Texas wind.

"That's one!" Trust me, in Lubbock there will not be a second.

Hook ‘em.

Jeff Conner's political and pop culture-infused Longhorn commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.


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