This game was being touted as a potential game-of-the-year candidate coming into the weekend, and it certainly lived up to the billing as the 12th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners knocked off No. 3 Texas, 34-30.
Texas took its first lead of the game with 1:17 left in the fourth quarter but left too much time for Dillon Gabriel and the Sooners’ offense, who drove down the field and retook the lead with just 15 seconds left on a three-yard touchdown pass to Nic Anderson.
Oklahoma (6-0, 3-0) will now head to their bye week in the driver’s seat of the Big 12 Championship race, while Texas (5-1, 2-1) is also set for a bye week where they’ll regroup ahead of a road trip to Houston.
Here are three thoughts on the game and what it means for both teams going forward.
What. A. Game.
If you tuned in for this game from the beginning, you are fully aware of the insanity that took place at the Texas State Fair this afternoon. In the first quarter alone, we saw the Sooner defense forced two interceptions, Texas special teams block a punt in the end zone for a touchdown, and two sacks before the quarter ended with the tie deadlocked at seven points a piece. It was the beginning of what became an instant classic. Both Oklahoma and Texas were 5-14 on third down, while Texas was 3-4 on fourth down (OU was 0-1). Despite their struggles coming into this game, Oklahoma actually outrushed the Longhorns 201-156, averaging 4.7 yards per carry (Texas avg. 3.9). The killer stat in this game was the turnover battle, which Oklahoma won 3-0 (not counting the blocked punt). Texas’ nine penalties for 70 yards also played a factor, while Oklahoma played a relatively clean game with just four penalties for 30 yards. Texas outgained Oklahoma 527-486 on the day, but in the end, the Sooners made the plays necessary to survive and move to 6-0 on the year.
Dillon Gabriel Shines on the Biggest Stage
Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel led the Sooners to points on five of their first 11 drives and helped OU grab the lead early and hold onto it until the 1:17 mark in the fourth quarter. Then, in the biggest moment of his career, Gabriel shined as bright as ever. Starting at his own 25-yard line, Gabriel completed 4-4 attempts, with his only incompletion drawing a pass interference that set the Sooners up with a first and goal at the Texas six-yard line. Then, after a three-yard run by Gabriel to make it 2nd-and-goal from the three, Gabriel found Nic Anderson in the back of the end zone for his sixth touchdown in the last four games. While there has been some questions about his ability to win the big one, even some from his own fan base, Gabriel silenced all the doubters with the biggest drive, and win, of his five-year career. Now, heading into the bye week, the Sooners are 6-0 and squarely in the hunt for a Big 12 title, and now, a College Football Playoff berth.
The Oklahoma Defense is For Real
One of the biggest questions coming into this game was how legitimate the Sooners’ defense was, considering the teams they’d played thus far. After leaving the Cotton Bowl victorious, there’s not much to those claims anymore. Brent Venables’ fingerprints continued to show up against the Longhorns today, as Oklahoma found its way into the backfield throughout the game, and it also made the most of its opportunities when it was needed. OU secured five sacks and 10 tackles for loss in the win and played sound defense for the vast majority of the game. The Sooners’ defense allowed just 23 points from the Longhorns’ offense and made Quinn Ewers uncomfortable for most of the game. The first drive of the fourth quarter was the galvanizing moment for this unit after a 28-yard reception to Jordan Whittington set the Longhorns up on first-and-goal from the Sooners’ one-yard line. In years past, when the offense trotted out defensive linemen to power the ball into the endzone, it was a guaranteed six points against the Sooners. But, not now. Not with this team. Oklahoma held Jonathan Brooks out of the endzone on three straight attempts, and then kept Xavier Worthy out of the endzone on a 4th-and-1 reception, giving the ball back to Gabriel and the offense. This defense is for real, and because of that, this team is a legitimate contender in 2023.