Cotton Bowl 2013: Where's the Love for Oklahoma QB Landry Jones?
Timing is everything.
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones had a most remarkable season, but unfortunately for Jones, 2012 was the year of Johnny Football.
The record-setting Jones got lost in all the brouhaha over Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, and while that's probably got to sting a little bit for Sooner fans, Jones can still have the last say when Oklahoma and Texas A&M square off in the Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday.
Oklahoma has had a bevy of quarterbacks who have been whispered in the same sentence as "Heisman," but for some reason, Jones hasn't gotten any love. The question is, why?
Jones was ranked third in productivity among all FBS quarterbacks this season—he passed for 3,989 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Jones was also very accurate hitting 65.5 percent of his passes and posting a 146.5 passer rating. His stats rank above Baylor's Nick Florence, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Florida State's E.J. Manuel.
Yet Jones' name is barely mentioned among the greatest quarterbacks of 2012 when talking heads start ticking off their list of quarterback names. It's not like he plays for a team that flies under the radar—the Sooners are playing in the Big 12, the conference of quarterbacks, and come into the Cotton Bowl with a 10-2 record.
Jones has won 39 games in his career for the Sooners and passed for 500-plus yards in back-to-back games, yet when it comes to hyping Landry Jones' accomplishments coming into this Cotton Bowl, crickets are chirping loudly.
ESPN recently gave Jones some major props, but where was this attention one month ago?
Jones has shattered virtually every passing school record, led the Sooners to more wins than any other quarterback and has a chance to join West Virginia's Pat White as the only quarterbacks in FBS history to win four bowl starts.
And let's talk about those passing records. Jones leads all Sooner quarterbacks—including Heisman winner Sam Bradford—in passing yards, passing completions, passing touchdowns, 300-yard games, 400-yard games,and wins. Jones hasn't just broken school records, he also set a Big 12 conference record by passing for 16,368 yards in his career.
Who will have the better day in the Cotton Bowl?
Where's the love?
The problem for Jones is that he has shown a tendency to turn the ball over at the most inopportune moments in a game. Against Kansas State, Jones was responsible for two costly turnovers.
In the second quarter of the game, the Sooners were up 3-0 when Jones fumbled after he was sacked, and the ball was recovered by Kansas State for a touchdown. Late in the third quarter and up 13-10 over the Wildcats, the Sooners suffered another costly turnover when Jones was intercepted by Ty Zimmerman which would eventually lead to a Kansas State go-ahead touchdown.
That loss would turn out to be the Sooners' only conference loss of the season—Kansas State (11-1) received the Fiesta Bowl berth while Oklahoma (10-2), after losing to Notre Dame five weeks later, would have to settle for the Cotton Bowl in Cowboys Stadium.
Ironically, Cowboys Stadium is where Jones' career first started. In 2009, Bradford was knocked out of the Sooners' season opener against BYU with a shoulder injury, thrusting Jones into the spotlight—the Sooners would eventually lose 14-13 to BYU.
Bradford did return four weeks later to start against Baylor, but the following week he re-injured his shoulder—Jones assumed the starting role at quarterback after Bradford announced the following week that he was declaring for the NFL draft.
Tomorrow, it's a full circle for Landry Jones. His last game with Oklahoma will be played in Cowboys Stadium against Texas A&M—that team that snubbed the Big 12 and went to greener pastures in the SEC.
That team with Heisman-winner Johnny "Football" Manziel.
The story lines are there. And you can count on Landry Jones to make a statement and, maybe, finally get the love he deserves.
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