DALLAS, TX – After three years of getting pushed around the Cotton Bowl, the Sooners had finally had enough. Today, they did the pushing, as they took the Golden Hat back home with a 45-40 win over Texas, in a game that was way closer than it should have been, thanks to continuing defensive problems. This thing wasn’t officially put away until the last play - the longest futile attempt at a lateral play that we’ve ever seen. The thing literally went on about 45 seconds, but only went backwards, with an illegal forward pass in the middle of it.
It shouldn’t have even have come to that, but this is what we should expect this season. The Sooner offense was nothing short of brilliant – except for turning the ball over. Mayfield had a pair of picks, neither his fault, though. One was basically a drop of a perfect pass by Mark Andrews, who had a tough time most of the day, right into the hands of a UT DB. On the other pick, Mayfield’s receiver was outright tackled in the middle of his route, with no call. That led to a Texas field goal. Joe Mixon also had a bad day handling the ball. He had a fumble in Texas territory that surely cost the Sooners points, fumbled a punt that he recovered, and let another punt hit him that gave UT the ball deep in Sooner territory in the third quarter. It was only Will Sunderland’s diving interception at the Sooner 7 that saved them from giving up points as a result of that one.
Other than the turnovers, though, the offense put on a show, rolling up 672 yards on new Texas defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. Meet the new boss – same as the old boss. Dede Westbrook set a school record with 10 catches for 232 yards and three TDs, all of the cross-country variety. Mayfield tied a school record against Texas with 390 yards passing, and Samaje Perine looked like himself, finally, bashing through the Horns for 214 yards on a workhorse 35 carries. On top of that, they played ball control, holding the ball for more than a quarter total on a pair of drives in the second half that netted 10 very important points. For the first time since routing the Horns in 2012, the Sooners were clearly the better team and the tougher team, and it was apparent all day and very welcome to see.
In the defense’s, well, defense, they are an ongoing episode of M*A*S*H that didn’t get any better today. Charles Walker didn’t play with a concussion, and Michiah Quick, who looked good at CB (which is a phrase we haven't said much about anyone this season) went down with a knee injury on what looked like a cheap shot by a Texas receiver on a running play.
For all that, though, they played very well at times. Jordan Thomas had several stellar plays to break up deep passes, before he got beaten on two bombs in the second half for TDs. The Sooners stuffed the UT running game for much of the afternoon, before D’Onta Foreman started gashing them in the second half on some very distressing and speedy Texas drives.
But a win is a win, and any win at Fair Park is one that you won’t give back for any reason. It was far from perfect, and it was far from pretty, and none of that matters in the slightest. It doesn’t matter how it looks, we just need to win games to win the conference, simple as that. So far, so good, at 2-0.
Next up, another morning kick against Kansas State next Saturday at 11. The Wildcats are, as this is written, about to defeat Texas Tech, and will be looking to get some payback for last season’s 55-0 embarrassment handed to them by the Sooners on their home turf. Given that these teams have been exchanging wins on the other’s home field for several years, that’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. The Sooners just need to continue to improve and, hopefully, get some people healthy.
See you for breakfast at Owen Field on Saturday. Drive safely coming home from Dallas tomorrow.