“They’re smart, they’re talented, and they’re physical!” This was the quote from FOX Sports play-by-play man Gus Johnson after Sam Ehlinger turned the corner and rushed from two yards out to put Texas up 37-24 over Oklahoma in the third quarter. The Longhorns would finish the job and roll the Sooners 48-45 in the 114th edition of the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.
With the win, the Big 12 Conference is officially up in the air for the first time since 2014 when Baylor and TCU were cream of the crop in the Heartland. Since 2015, it’s been OU’s conference. Even in 2015, when Texas beat Oklahoma in Charlie Strong’s final season in Austin, that seemed like more of an aberration than anything else. This game was the first time since 2012 that both teams came into the match up ranked. Three years ago, Texas entered the game with a 1-4 record, having lost to Notre Dame, Cal, Oklahoma State and TCU, with the only win coming against Rice.
This is different.
Texas won back-to-back Top 25 games last month against USC and then TCU. Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs had previously had the Longhorns’ number in recent seasons by winning four in a row prior to their meeting this season. Texas beat TCU at its own game with fewer penalty yards, winning the turnover battle 4-0 and dominating time of possession on its way to a 31-16 win.
But even with those two Top 25 victories under their belt, beating the explosive Sooners in one of the great rivalry games in the sport is an entirely different animal. But Texas did just that and it was done in impressive fashion. UT got down 7-0 as the Sooners needed just six plays to go 65 yards, ending with the 4-yard pass from Kyler Murray to Marquise Brown. But Texas responded with a 5-play, 75-yard drive that tied the game up after a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ehlinger to Collin Johnson.
That would just be the start of the fireworks show, as the two teams combined for 93 points and over 1,000 yards, ending with Dicker the Kicker’s (Cameron Dicker) 40-yard field goal to give Texas the lead for good at 48-45.
Yes, there was the blown 21-point lead, but let’s save that story for another article.
After the win, Tom Herman told FOX Sports, “Well, that’s a really good football team. What a college football game. My hats are off the the Oklahoma Sooners, they played a heckuva football game and didn’t give up.”
Then, Herman got to the word of the season: “Finish”. He told FOX, “We found a way to finish. So proud of our guys for finishing. that’s been our mantra all season, all off-season and we finished the game.”
Well, the other word that can be used is, “upheaval”, because that’s where we are with the Big 12 Conference right now. Texas is in the driver’s seat in the conference for arguably the first time in a decade. But it does have that lingering loss against Maryland hanging over its head. As for OU, winning out will still put the Sooners in a great position to make the College Football Playoff. They did just that in 2015 after losing to Texas, and that was before there was a Big 12 Conference Championship Game.
But as of right now, it’s the Texas Longhorns who control their own destiny in the Big 12, and will be the favorites moving forward. Does this mean Texas is back?
For now, yes, yes it does. For real this time.
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