Nov 24, 2012; Norman OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Jalen Sanders runs for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

Three Keys to victory in the 2013 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic

With less than 24 hours away from the big showdown in Arlington, the Oklahoma Sooners have one more night to go over the game plan and get themselves mentally prepared for what is the biggest bowl game in years for the program.

In order for the Sooners to be successful, it’s pertinent they eliminate the mistakes and not allow the Aggies to run rampid inside Jerry World. On the flip side, A&M will have to earn this one just as much as the Sooners. This game will be a hard fought battle, and should make for one of the best bowls of the 2012-13 season.

Oklahoma’s Keys to Victory:

  • Win the battle in the trenches. This one may go a bit without saying, but Oklahoma’s offensive line needs to shutdown Texas A&M’s front. The Sooners have to give Landry Jones ample time to take advantage of the Aggie secondary, as well as get the run game going. Lane Johnson and Gabe Ikard will need to rise to the occasion, and a few young guys will have a lot asked of them. They will have to show up for all four quarters, but the Sooner o-line has overachieved in a big way this season. Damontre Moore will be anxious to get in the backfield and disrupt Oklahoma’s offense. However, this line has stood up to nearly every challenge this season, and expect nothing less Friday night.
  • Pressure Manziel. As much as the Aggies love to talk about their win over Alabama, they benefited from getting up early on the Tide. They put all the pressure on Bama to make plays and play from behind the entire game. OU definitely does not want to be put in this position. The Sooners have to strike early and make this game competitive from the start. The Sooners have to get stops and put the pressure on the freshman to deliver. If a few things go Oklahoma’s way and avoid any defensive meltdowns, they will walk out of Jerry World as Cotton Bowl Champions.
  • Clock management. OU has had a bad habit this season of calling unnecessary timeouts, and cannot afford to waste any early in any quarter. The Sooners have to manage the clock and their timeouts efficiently. This is a game that could come down to the wire and Oklahoma cannot afford to blow the game because of clock management issues. To their credit, Oklahoma did a magnificent job of controlling the clock late in Bedlam, as well as in Morgantown. If it comes down to a last minute drive, have faith in this team, it’s just important their late-game luck does not run out.

Texas A&M’s Keys to Victory:

  • Forget the past. Texas A&M historically has done poorly against Bob Stoops. They have to keep this new mindset that has made themselves successful in the SEC. They have to keep this new attitude about Aggie Football. It should be no problem for some of the young guys, but the older ones know what it’s like to play Oklahoma. Their offensive game plan is not totally foreign to the Sooners, so they won’t be able to pull as many tricks on OU as they did against the SEC schools who had no clue how to stop A&M’s high-powered offense. They need to get the monkey off their back, and send a message to their former Big 12 brethren they are doing just fine in their new conference.
  • Run Aggies run. It’s a blatant weakness for the Sooners, and they will be without Stacy McGee for this one. If the Ags can establish a run game, it could be a long day for the Sooners. We all know OU’s secondary is much improved upon last season, but Manziel will not hesitate to scramble and Oklahoma simply cannot afford to give up big run plays. It will be hard to contain a guy like Johnny Manziel, though, somehow Oklahoma knocked off West Virginia when Tavon Austin ran for a million yards on the Sooners. So maybe there is some hope for OU, but a solid ground game will prove beneficial to Texas A&M.
  • Disrupt Landry. If the Aggies can get in the backfield and force “Bad Landry” to shine in Arlington, then it will be all downhill for Oklahoma. OU needs a big game from Jones, and if his old ways come back to haunt him, it will be a long night. Take away turnovers against Kansas State and Oklahoma is your outright Big 12 Champion. Ultimately, Texas A&M can take this game easily if they can win the turnover battle and score off every opportunity Oklahoma gives them. Hopefully, the Sooners will not have to witness “Bad Landry” in his last career game as a Sooner. Though, the Aggies would love it if they can rattle Jones and force him to make key mistakes.

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