Way off topic.

Whenever a football team faces a high-scoring opponent, we inevitably hear how it must exercise "ball control." Kirk Bohls has already opined that "if Texas is to get by an excellent Red Raiders team, it will have to devote itself to a clock-eating, chain-moving ground game."

The "ball control" strategy has never made much sense to me, at least as a blanket strategy for handling a high-scoring team. Yes, chewing up the clock gives your opponent fewer possessions and thus fewer opportunities to score. But it also gives your team fewer possessions and fewer opportunities to score. Ball control, in other words, not only keeps the ball out of your opponent's hands, it keeps it out of your hands.

Reducing the number of possessions makes sense only if your opponent is more likely to score on your defense than your offense is to score on their defense. Suppose, for example, that your offense has a 40% chance of scoring a touchdown on your opponent's defense on any given possession. And suppose your opponent's offense has only a 25% chance of scoring on your defense. If each team got 100 possessions, your team would be virtually guaranteed to win since statistical flukes are unlikely in a large sample. Note this would be true even if your opponent scored very quickly when it did score.

The optimal strategy for the team with the better chance of scoring is to maximize the number of possessions. Your opponent is less likely to get lucky the larger the sample. (This is essentially just the principle of reversion to the mean.)

Texas Tech has a prolific offense. Texas has a prolific offense. Texas has the better defense, though, and I think Texas is more likely to score a touchdown against Tech on any given drive than the other way around. Tech's best strategy, then, is to hold the number of possessions to a minimum and hope it gets lucky. UT's best strategy is to maximize the number of possessions. Ball control is the wrong strategy for handling Tech.