Texas has the edge on money downs and in the red zone on defense
Something that could be a real separator in this game for the Longhorns is its advantage in efficiency on money downs and in the red zone on defense. Texas is doing pretty well converting on third and fourth down this season.
The Longhorns rank in the top half of the Power Five in third-down conversion rate this season (41 percent). Texas has also been really good converting on fourth down, ranking 14th in the FBS at a clip of 73 percent.
Texas’ defense was even better in the first half of the regular season, limiting opponents on money downs. Texas ranks fifth in the FBS this season in opponent third-down conversion rate (28.4 percent) and 18th in opponent fourth-down conversion rate (33.3 percent).
Houston, meanwhile, has had no such luck stopping anyone on third or fourth down this season. Houston’s defense ranks 116th in the FBS in opponent third-down conversion rate (47.1 percent) and 132nd in opponent fourth-down conversion rate (88.9 percent).
Sark won’t hesitate to go for it on fourth down if the situation calls for it against a Houston defense that has been really suspect on money downs this season.
It’s noteworthy that Texas could also find success against this Houston offense when the field shortens in the red zone. Texas’ red zone defense was very impressive in the first half of the regular season, holding opponents under a 70 percent conversion rate inside the 20-yard line.
If Houston can’t get the ground game going this weekend, it will have difficulty getting touchdowns instead of field goals or stalling out with an unbalanced offense.