DALLAS – The Golden Hat is going back to Austin, Texas.
No matter what Oklahoma tried, it either didn’t work or Texas simply had the answer. The Longhorns thoroughly outplayed the Sooners in a 36-20 victory Saturday afternoon in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl.
The loss emphatically snaps OU’s three-game winning streak in the series, and it became apparent early it was going to be a long day for those clad in crimson and cream.
Going into the game, many felt several things had to happen for Texas, underdogs by more than 13 points, to stand a chance in this one.
One by one – they happened. Needed a non-offensive touchdown? Check. Better yet, make that two check marks as defensive tackle Chris Whaley had an interception return for a touchdown in the first half. Daje Johnson essentially sealed the deal with an 85-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter.
“When you give up an interception for a touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown, those are always difference makers,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “They were a big part of the game again today.”
The Longhorns (4-2, 3-0) needed to be physical and dominate the line of scrimmage. Again, no problem. Texas had an incredible 60 attempts for 255 yards. Running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown each rushed for more than 100 yards. Gray had 123 yards on 29 carries, while Brown had 23 attempts for 120.
“We just needed to be more physical at the line of scrimmage and didn’t do that,” OU defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue said. “They out-executed us, and we were driven back. That’s pretty much it.”
It was clear the Sooners defense up the middle was going to look different without senior captain linebacker Corey Nelson out for the rest of the season with a partially torn pectoral muscle.
But the line took another hit when it was revealed defensive tackle Jordan Phillips was going to miss his second consecutive game.
“Our inability to stop the run was the most disappointing part of the game,” OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Today there were no good calls.”
There were no good calls on third down as the Sooners couldn’t get off the field. Texas finished 13 of 20 on third downs. That alone is impressive, but the Longhorns were a staggering 9-of-12 on third down in the first half.
Conversely, OU (5-1, 2-1) could do nothing to give the defense a break. The Sooners were a mere 2-of-13 on third downs.
“We were just in too many third-and-longs,” OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “We didn’t execute. We just couldn’t execute enough consistently.”
OU’s inability to get off the field allowed Texas to run 23 more plays in the game, finishing with 82 plays for 445 yards. The Sooners had 263 yards on 59 plays.
Texas quarterback Case McCoy wasn’t fantastic but did what OU had done the previous two weeks. When a big play was needed, he delivered.
McCoy threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Both of those were of the big-play variety. He found Marcus Johnson for a 59-yard score in the first half and Mike Davis from 38 yards out in the third quarter.
Both came on nice play designs as Johnson ran behind Kass Everett, while Davis was able to get Zack Sanchez looking in the backfield.
“The better team won today,” sophomore linebacker Eric Striker said. “We pride ourselves on finishing. We didn’t finish today.”