It’s never smart to underestimate an opponent, especially if you’re playing in the Red River Rivalry.
For the second time in three years, an unranked Texas team has upset OU, this time with a score of 24-17 in front of 91,546 fans inside the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Propelled by 313 rushing yards, the Longhorns set the tone early in the game, and were able to hold off a furious second half rally by the Sooners. Texas quarterback Jerrod Heard was the difference maker in this Longhorn win, finishing with 115 rushing yards and a touchdown through the air.
After OU forced Texas into a three and out on UT’s first offensive possession of the game, the Longhorns responded on their next drive when they marched down the field and finished it off with a mesmerizing touchdown by Marcus Johnson. The senior caught the ball on the left side of the field, escaped a few Sooner defenders, before tight-roping the sideline and scampering in for the score.
Giving up one touchdown isn’t the end of the world, and the Sooners certainly had plenty of time to respond, but things went south on OU’s ensuing kick return. After bursting up the middle on what appeared to be a solid return, OU’s Alex Ross lost control of the football while being brought down, and Texas was able to recover the fumble in Sooner territory.
It looked as if OU had caught a break just minutes later when cornerback Zach Sanchez intercepted a Texas’ pass downfield, but the excitement was short-lived after Sanchez was flagged for a defensive holding call that kept the Longhorns’ drive alive.
A few plays later, Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes came into the game and lined up in a formation similar to the “Bell-Dozer”, and pounded into the endzone to put Texas up two touchdowns with 5:37 remaining in the first quarter.
At that point in the game, OU’s defense didn’t seem capable of slowing down the Longhorns’ attack while the Sooner offense wasn’t doing much better.
On the next two OU drives, the Sooners hurt themselves with pivotal mistakes. The offensive line continually broke down, not allowing Mayfield anytime to go through his reads and look downfield for an open receiver.
The Sooner offense finally showed signs of life about midway through the second quarter when they put together their most productive drive of the first half. The drive got started with a 10-yard Dede Westbrook catch before Sterling Shepard and Joe Mixon added chunk plays of their own to get the Sooners in Longhorn territory.
Running back Daniel Brooks extended the drive for OU with a 14-yard run up the middle, before Baker Mayfield carried two Texas’ defenders on his back for a nine-yard gain. OU seemed primed to score six points and get right back into the game, but a Westbrook drop in the endzone on third down forced the Sooners to settle for a Seibert 21-yard field goal.
OU only totaled 85 yards of offense in the first half while Texas had 169. Despite the lopsided offensive numbers, there was still a sense that OU was still in the game despite trailing by 11 points.
Unfortunately for OU, the potent Texas’ rushing attack didn’t slow down after intermission.
On its first drive of the second half, the Longhorns drained a whopping seven minutes off of the clock before extending their lead to 17-3 with a field goal.
OU’s best drive of the game came on their next possession. Mayfield kept the drive alive on third down with a 17-yard strike to Durron Neal after escaping the Texas pass rush, then hit Shepard on a wide receiver screen that went for 10 yards.
The Sooners hurried up to the ball to get off a quick snap, and Mayfield quickly connected with Sterling Shepard on the right side for a 50-yard pass play that got the ball to the Longhorns’ seven yard line. A few plays later, Mayfield rolled right and rifled a perfect pass to Dimitri Flowers in the front of the endzone for the first Sooner touchdown of the game. OU trailed 17-10 with 5:16 remaining in the third quarter.
OU’s defense forced the Longhorns to go three and out on their next drive, and Bob Stoops’ Sooners looked to be poised for another second half comeback after taking down Tennessee in double-overtime earlier in the season.
OU picked up two quick first downs, but a penalty on Orlando Brown Jr. eventually stalled the Sooners’ drive and gave the ball back to Texas.
The Longhorns made the most of the missed opportunity by OU, and Texas’ running back D’Onta Foreman broke free for an 81-yard run that was followed by a Swoopes’ touchdown pass to Caleb Bluiett to put Texas up by two scores with less than a quarter remaining.
Mayfield valiantly led the Sooners on their next possession by making one incredible play after another to get OU into the redzone. After a 23-yard reception by Michiah Quick to get the ball to the Texas’ three yard line, it only took Semaje Perine two attempts to rumble in for a touchdown. The score put the Sooners down only seven points with eight minutes left in the game.
Texas couldn’t get anything going on its next possession, and OU had a chance to tie the game halfway through the fourth frame.
Unfortunately for the Sooners, the offensive line fell apart on the final drive and allowed Mayfield to get sacked on both second and third down.
With over three minutes remaining on the game clock, OU elected to punt on fourth down inside Texas’ territory, but were unable to make a stop on defense and never got the ball back.
Mayfield finished with 211 passing yards and one touchdown, while completing 20 of his 28 passes. Shepard led all receivers with six catches for 95 receiving yards while Westbrook totaled four grabs on the day.
The Sooners struggled to get much going on the ground throughout the game and Perine rushed for only 36 yards on 10 attempts.
After forcing five turnovers in the win over West Virginia last Saturday, the OU defense didn’t have as much success in the takeaway category this week. OU failed to force a turnover, and appeared to get outmatched by a speedy Longhorn offense.
Jordan Evans led the Sooners in tackles with 11, while Dominique Alexander added eight. Steven Parker and Matthew Romar added seven tackles apiece while defensive captain Eric Striker totaled two sacks.
Along with Heard’s 115 yards on the ground, Foreman eclipsed 100 yards rushing as well for UT with his 117 yards. Jonathan Gray was also a force throughout the game with 79 bruising yards of his own.
Texas improves to 61-44-5 all-time in the Red River Rivalry, while Bob Stoops falls to 10-7 against the Longhorns.
OU will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Manhattan to take on Kansas State at 2:30 p.m.