Texas and Oklahoma may be close in talent year in and year out, but the two schools had very different seasons in 2009.
Oklahoma suffered through a ton of injuries to practically every starter on both sides of the ball, while Texas remained very healthy throughout the year. The end of the season was just as different as the regular season as Oklahoma ended 8-5 with a victory over the Stanford Cardinal in the Brut Sun Bowl while Texas lost to Alabama in the national championship for their only loss of the season.
However, there was one thing that brought the Longhorns and Sooners together by season's end. They both lost their star quarterback to injury that ultimately cost them the possibility to win a championship.
This connection raises the question: Who needed their quarterback more to achieve their loftiest goal?
Let's look at Oklahoma first. Sam Bradford went down in the very first game Sept. 5 against BYU. However, the Sooners' problems went way beyond Sam Bradford this season.
First, Jermaine Gresham, pretty much a shoo-in for the Mackey Award this season went down in the week prior to the BYU game. The first reports were a couple weeks, but it was soon revealed that the knee injury that he sustained would keep him out the entire season. Blow number one.
Second, the Sooners had to replace four starters along the offensive line. Throughout the entire season, the line struggled to find consistency and chemistry. Some games things went really well. Other games, not so much.
It didn't help that Brody Eldridge, Ben Habern, and Jarvis Jones were lost for the season by mid-November. On top of that, Brian Lepak, who was filling in for Habern, was injured during bowl preparation, causing starting left tackle Trent Williams to play center in the Sun Bowl.
Not only did this affect the Sooners' passing game, but it was a huge problem for the running game. In the Sooners' five losses, they averaged only 76.6 yards on the ground. However, in their eight wins, they averaged 170.9 yards, almost a 100 yard difference. Blow No. 2.
Third, many other starters missed time throughout the season. In fact, it would be easier to count the number of starters who did NOT miss time than it would be to count those that did. Blow No. 3.
And of course we can't go without mentioning the effect that the loss of Bradford had on the Sooners. Landry Jones did a fair job of filling in for Bradford, throwing 27 touchdowns, but was wildly inconsistent.
Jones threw a school record six touchdowns against Tulsa, but also threw five interceptions against Nebraska. He just didn't have the accuracy, the poise or the consistency that Bradford brought to the table. Blow number four.
Texas had a relatively uneventful season compared to the Sooners. They didn't suffer through a lot of injuries or have many issues with youth.
Colt McCoy had some minor issues earlier in the season with his young corps of wide receivers but a lot of individual practice with them smoothed things over and helped the Longhorns really open it up offensively down the stretch of season.
The Longhorns had zero offensive line issues, but they did have some problems running the football consistently. Texas averaged only 141 yards per game, which really isn't that much for a team as dominant as the Longhorns. Not only that, but the leading rushing for the Horns was freshman Tre' Newton with a paltry 513 yards.
Colt McCoy guided the passing attack with another season of 70 completion percentage. He struggled early in the year, but after the Oklahoma game, when Jordan Shipley moved back to the slot from flanker, he really took off and looked like the McCoy the nation had grown to know. The Longhorns young receivers also stepped up their game as the season progressed.
The only similarity throughout the entire year for these two teams was the defenses. Both of these defenses were ranked in the top 10 throughout the entire year and in the Sooners case, kept them in games no matter how inept the offense was looking (case in point: the Nebraska game).
Having looked at the entire season for both teams, including the Longhorns performance in the national championship, it is my opinion that Texas needed Colt McCoy more than Oklahoma needed Sam Bradford to win a national championship. I say this for this reason.
The Sooners are not necessarily the better team outside of the quarterback position. They simply had more issues this season this year than the Longhorns did and i think that having Sam Bradford back would not have been enough to bring a national championship to Norman.