Texas-OU: Sooners take a classic
DALLAS, TX -- Sometimes rivalry games don't live up to the hype.
This one did.
In front of 80,000 at the Cotton Bowl, 10th-ranked Oklahoma outslugged 19th-ranked Texas 28-21 to stay in contention for the Big XII title.
"It was a great football game," said losing coach Mack Brown. "It was what you expect out of Texas and OU."
Both Texas and OU came into today's game off lackluster performances in stunning losses last week. Both were at the top of their games today, however.
The Sooners won the turnover battle and got huge performances from a couple of redshirt freshmen to win an intense, physical slugfest.
RB DeMarco Murray and QB Sam Bradford were both playing in their first Texas-OU games, but they played like composed veterans today.
With leading receiver Malcolm Kelly and leading rusher Allen Patrick on the bench nursing injuries, Murray busted a 65-yard TD run in the 3rd quarter to break a 14-14 tie, and finished with 129 yards on 17 carries. He especially carried the load in the second half, running 12 times for 103 yards.
After Texas tied the game 21-21 on the first play of the 4th quarter, Bradford engineered a 12-play 94-yard TD drive that provided the winning points. Bradford went 7-for-8 on the drive for 83 yards, capping it with a beautifully thrown 35-yard TD pass to Kelly.
"Sam's demeanor never changes," said Kelly. "Whether he's ahead by 14 or behind by 14, he just always says 'Let's get it done.'"
Given a 4th-quarter lead, the Sooner defense took over. Reggie Smith picked off a Colt McCoy pass in OU territory to stop one drive, and Auston English sacked McCoy in the final minute as a Longhorn desperation drive went 4-and-out.
In addition to Smith's interception, Curtis Lofton forced a fumble inside the OU five on the first possession of the second half, thwarting a long Longhorn drive that looked as if it would put Texas in control of the game. The Sooners lost last year's game 28-10 as they turned the ball over four times in the second half, but even with freshmen Murray and Bradford handling the ball so much today, OU did not commit a turnover.
The Sooners offense also rolled up 414 total yards. Bradford ended up 21-32 for 244 yards and 3 TDs. TE Jermaine Gresham caught two of the scores, and wideouts Kelly and Juanquin Iglesias were both very productive. Iglesias caught 6 for 99 and Kelly grabbed 5 for 105, including an acrobatic snag of a 3rd-down pass thrown well behind him that moved the chains late in the game.
For the Longhorns, McCoy went 19-26 for 324 and found TE Jermichael Finley for several big plays. Finley caught four balls for 149 yards. Despite the loss, the performance was perhaps the Longhorns' best of the season.
"This is the effort we've been looking for all season," said a disappointed but encouraged Mack Brown. "We aren't proud that we lost today, but we are proud of the effort."
Player of the Game: One year after redshirt freshman Colt McCoy made his mark in Texas-OU lore, Bradford matched that performance. Without trying to do too much, Bradford did a lot. "I think Sam, as young as he is, has a lot of confidence and a lot of cool to him," said a pleased Bob Stoops. "He doesn't make too much of a situation. He trusts the guys around him to make plays. No one needs to be Superman out there. Distribute the ball. He does a great job of going through his reads and doing that."
Next up: The loss dropped Texas to 0-2 in the Big XII, likely eliminating them from title contention. They'll have to regroup on the road next week against Iowa State, which is coached by last year's Longhorn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. The Sooners will host Big XII North favorite Missouri.