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Oklahoma Shows It's Very Much Alive In Title Hunt

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Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort force a fumble in the third quarter of the Red River Rivalry. (AP Photo) Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort force a fumble in the third quarter of the Red River Rivalry. (AP Photo)
DALLAS -

Three weeks ago, most people were leaving this Oklahoma Sooners team for dead. The Sooners had just turned the ball over three times in a less-than-inspiring 24-19 home loss to Kansas State. Saddled with a conference loss just three games into the season, it appeared another season with high expectations was going to come up empty.

Fast forward to the scene at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday: the crimson and cream end of the old stadium filled to capacity, the burnt-orange section holding just a smattering of fans. That picture told the story of who won the 2012 edition of the Red River Rivalry, but the scoreboard was the true indicator of the dominating performance the Sooners displayed in Dallas on Saturday.

Oklahoma 63, Texas 21.

In fact, the final margin includes two Texas touchdowns scored in the final five minutes of the game, long after the Sooners had put in backups on defense. That's the kind of day it was for the Sooners. Not even a 63-21 score can tell the full story of dominance.

The Sooners were efficient on offense and disruptive on defense, looking much more like the team that was ranked as high as No. 4 in preseason polls as opposed to the team that lost to Kansas State and struggled against UTEP.

The Sooners rolled up 677 yards of offense, 343 on the ground and 334 through the air. The defense held the Longhorns to 289 total yards, but 149 of those yards came on Texas' last two drives that were effectively meaningless in the grand scheme of the game.

"The defense was incredible, I thought -- physical, tough on the run, and then covered so well, got pressure, all the things you want them to do," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "Heck, when you can go all the way up to four-and-a-half minutes to go in the game and they hadn't even scored a point."

A year ago, the Sooners generated constant pressure on Texas quarterbacks, rolling up eight sacks and five turnovers. Saturday afternoon, it was much of the same for the Sooners, who were constantly in the face of quarterback David Ash. The Sooners only got one sack, but they forced three turnovers, and tackled extremely well, limiting Texas' yards after contact to hardly anything.

Needless to say, there was no doubt who the better team was on Saturday, nor was there any doubt that Texas still has a long way to go to returning to the level of success they had enjoyed for the previous decade.

As the season continues to unfold, it's apparent the Sooners will be a big player in both the Big 12 and national championship races. A lot obviously has to happen, particularly on the national stage, for OU to find itself in contention for a national championship, but there are precious few, if any, teams remaining on Oklahoma's schedule that would be able to defeat a Sooners team like the one on display at the Cotton Bowl on Sunday.

That same schedule could be the biggest single thing to propel the Sooners back into the national championship hunt. The Sooners play host to No. 7 Notre Dame in two weeks, and still have trips to Iowa State, West Virginia, and TCU remaining in addition to home games against Baylor and OSU. A strong closing schedule helped the Sooners in a big way in 2008, when OU needed to win a tiebreaker based on BCS standings to claim the Big 12 South title.

No matter what ends up happening the rest of the season, the Sooners proved Saturday they are not dead in the slightest. In fact, the Sooners are very much alive, in every way imaginable.

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