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Oklahoma rebounds and wins Red River thriller

The Sooners held on to beat a rapidly improving Texas.

Oklahoma v Texas Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Fourth quarter

Final: Some stats for you.

  • At one point, I believe OU was plus-240 in the yardage department, but finished with 518 yards to Texas’ 428. The game completely flipped after the Sooners went up 17-0, and UT actually ended up with more first downs (23-20).
  • Mayfield finished 17-for-27 for 302 yards, two scores, a pick, and 27 rushing yards. It took a lot more attempts, but Ehlinger ended up catching him in the total yardage department: 19-for-39 passing for 278 yards and a touchdown, plus 22 carries for 106 yards and another score. Both briefly left the game with injuries in the second half. This was a rugged football game.
  • The biggest difference ended up being at the running back position. OU’s rushing pace slowed dramatically in the second half, but Sermon and Anderson still ended up with 144 yards in 30 carries. Texas’ Warren, Porter, and Carter: 14 carries, 24 yards. Warren and Porter did combine for 86 yards in six catches, but ground yardage was all on Ehlinger, who earned the ice packs in his near future.

OU dominated the first 25 minutes or so but left the door open with blown chances and penalties. And the Horns verrrrrrry nearly made the Sooners pay.

6:24: Humphrey makes an incredible juggling catch along the sideline, but a replay review shows that his foot was out of bounds before he jumped to catch the ball. With four seconds left, UT is still at its 42. Because of Seibert’s punt, a Hail Mary isn’t possible, so Texas elects to go with a lateral fest. It only gets to about midfield. OU survives a tense, explosive, emotional Red River battle, 29-24.

6:18: From his end zone, Ehlinger finds Collin Johnson for 24 yards, but the magic ends there. Humphrey can’t quite reel in a sideline pass, and then Ehlinger bobbles a snap and has to run for a short gain. After a spike with 19 seconds left and a false start, he scrambles for a first down to the UT 42. Eleven ticks left.

6:10: MVP: Austin Seibert. He bombs a 52-yarder that is fair caught at the Texas 7. A holding penalty on the Horns means they’ll have 49 seconds to go 97 yards. Seibert has averaged 47 yards per kick today, and two have resulted in field position inside the 5.

6:09: OU needs to move the chains one more time to end the game. Sermon gains five yards on first down and about one more on second down. Texas timeout with 1:02 left. The Horns have one left.

Sermon gets stuffed on third down. Texas calls its last timeout with 57 seconds left. Ehlinger will get one last chance after a Seibert punt.

6:06: No magic for Ehlinger. He gains a few yards on second down — he’s either really tough or stupid — but can’t find anybody open on either third or fourth down. OU takes over with 1:52. Texas has two timeouts left.

6:02: Oof. As the Longhorns again approach midfield with about five minutes left, Ehlinger is tackled near the sideline on a two-yard run and appears to hit his head. He is motionless on the sideline for a moment before getting up, and Buechele makes an appearance. He scrambles for a two-yard gain, and on third-and-6, he finds Warren about three yards short of the chains. Warren stops to let a defender fly by, then surges forward for the first down at the OU 42.

Buechele scrambles for a first down as Ehlinger emerges from Texas’ injury tent, but on first down from the OU 31, he is sacked by D.J. Ward. Texas coach Tom Herman calls timeout, and Ehlinger ambles back onto the field with 2:42 left. Hoo boy, is this getting tense.

5:47: Now that’s a response! OU takes over at its 22 and needs only three plays and 68 seconds to take the lead back. Mayfield hits Andrews for eight yards, then Anderson breaks off an 11-yard run. It sets up quite a Texas breakdown: Mayfield finds Andrews wide open down the right sideline for a 59-yard touchdown. The TE-who-plays-like-a-WR now has four catches for 104 yards.

The two-point conversion pass is out of bounds, but OU leads 29-24 with 6:53 left. Does the Sooner defense have any gas left in the tank, or is this a “last team with the ball wins” situation?

5:44: OU led Iowa State 14-0 and 24-10 last week and lost, 38-31. Today, the Sooners took a 17-0 lead on Texas. With 8:01 left, they trail, 24-23.

OU really, really should have put Texas away in the first half while it had the chance. Another three-and-out leads to another Seibert punt, and Texas takes over at its 27. A 14-yard burst from Ehlinger on third-and-2 gets the ball to midfield, and then he fires a long, third-and-10 lob across the field to Hemphill-Mapps for 22 yards to the OU 29. Cade Brewer then catches a 22-yarder, initiating a huge collision with safety Kahlil Haughton.

Haughton gets medical attention, and on first-and-goal, Ehlinger, looking more and more like Mayfield himself, scrambles into the end zone. The Horns were completely lifeless for the first 25 minutes. Now they lead.

5:25: The Sooners dodge a bullet. A stop-and-go route gets Devin Duvernay open for a 42-yard bomb down the right sideline, but on a third-and-8 lob to the end zone, Motley, burned by Duvernay a couple of plays earlier, defends it perfectly. Stuck in no man’s land at the OU 27, Texas goes for it. With Okoronkwo battling cramps on the sideline, linebacker Caleb Kelly blitzes and forces a throwaway. OU ball. Still 11:26 left in this increasingly hectic battle.

5:19: Mayfield returns to the game, but OU plays things conservatively while pinned deep. Two short Sermon runs (he comes up favoring his wrist after the second one) and a Mayfield incompletion lead to a three-and-out. And then it’s Seibert’s turn to boom the hell out of one. He unloads on a 56-yarder, and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps’ return loses 10 yards. OU punted from its 5, but Texas still starts out inside its 30 with 12:43 left.

5:15: It’s a punter show! After Seibert’s gorgeous first-half punt, Michael Dickson uncorks a 62-yarder that is downed at OU’s 2.

Third quarter

5:11: Yep, different level of intensity now. OU stuffs Toneil Carter on first down, then Du'Vonta Lampkin drags down Ehlinger in the backfield as the third quarter ends. Texas will face a third-and-11 from its 26 with the final 15 minutes begin.

5:08: The worm has turned. Brandon Jones blitzes on a third-and-3; it appears he jumped offside, but apparently not. He gets to Mayfield very quickly and forces a throwaway and an OU punt. Another player lands on Mayfield’s neck and shoulders as he hits the ground.

Mayfield walks off the field very slowly, backup Kyler Murray starts working out on the sideline, and a scuffle breaks out between other players. It’s getting testy in the Cotton Bowl.

5:00: Penalties are officially a story. A costly third-down holding penalty on Parnell Motley gives UT a first down in Sooner territory, then Emmanuel Beal roughs Ehlinger on a third-down completion to Chris Warren III.

That gets the Longhorns pretty close to the end zone, and then Warren takes it from there. He plunges in from the one, with help from a shove by Ehlinger. OU’s offense has outgained Texas’, 408-192, but OU’s blown chances and 81 yards of penalties (UT has 15) have helped to make this a 23-17 game with 4:27 left in the third quarter. Texas does not belong in this game ... but Texas is very much in this game.

4:45: We start the second half like we ended the first: with OU moving like a hot knife through butter but stalling out short of the end zone. A pair of third-down conversions got the Sooners inside the Texas 20, but a killer holding penalty on what would have been a touchdown pass leads to another Seibert field goal. Seibert makes the 36-yarder, but OU is now averaging under four points per scoring chance. It's 23-10 with 9:10 left in the third.

Second quarter

4:11: Well, that could have been much worse. Ehlinger completes four passes in the two-minute drill, and UT’s Joshua Rowland hits a 34-yard field goal at the buzzer. UT was lifeless for about 26 of 30 minutes but trails just 20-10 at halftime.

4:05: The stat of the first half: points per scoring opportunity. Mayfield escapes pressure and rushes for 16 yards, then Anderson bursts for 21. OU creates its fifth scoring opportunity (first down inside the opponent’s 40) of the half, but three plays gain only seven yards, and then John Bonney makes a twisting interception of a fourth-and-3 pass. Points per scoring opportunity: UT 7.0, OU 4.0.

3:58: Life! For real this time! Porter hasn’t gotten anywhere from scrimmage since the first play, but he runs through some weak tackles on the kickoff and draws a late hit penalty to boot. UT starts at the OU 42. OU commits a horse collar tackle two plays later to tack on another 15 yards, and UT’s to the 16 with minimal offensive output.

Then, on an all-out blitz, Porter catches a screen with a wall of blockers. It’s a 16-yard touchdown, and it’s 20-7 Oklahoma with 3:14 left in the half. OU is still dominating in yardage, 298-82, but the Sooners got careless (again) and let Texas back into the game.

3:52: Nope, no life. Texas quickly goes three-and-out as the announcers speculate about Ehlinger getting replaced by Shane Buechele, then OU executes a perfect trick play: Sermon with a halfback pass to a wide open Brown for 42 yards. UT’s only saving grace: another stalled drive. OU settles for another Seibert field goal, this one from 28 yards. 20-0, 4:32 left. If the Sooners were a little better at finishing drives, this one would be over. Instead, it’s merely mostly over.

3:41: Life, maybe? Possibly? A nice Lil’Jordan Humphrey catch and run brings UT into Sooner territory, but the Horns quickly stall out, and on a desperate fourth-and-8 attempt, Okoronkwo once again forces a rushed Ehlinger throw, and the Horns turn it over on downs. But the Horns stuff Mayfield on a third-and-short, and after a false start, Seibert attempts his first punt.

It’s downed at about the one-inch line. At their current of one yard for every eight seconds or so, it’ll take them about 15 minutes to drive the length of the field.

I mean, damn.

3:23: Tom Herman’s gonna need some of that upset magic, and stat. OU starts the second quarter as it ended the first: on a roll. A 14-yard cutback run by Rodney Anderson makes it 17-0 Oklahoma with 13:11 left in the half. If you’re looking for a positive spin for the Horns, OU was up 14-0 on Iowa State last week before falling asleep and allowing the Cyclones to find a rhythm and pull an upset. The Sooners are awake right now, though.

First quarter

3:15: False start and holding penalties appear to kill an OU drive, but a shallow cross to Marquise Brown turns into a 20-yard gain, and then Mayfield finds CeeDee Lamb wiiiiiiiiide open for 44 yards to the Texas 26. The quarter ends with OU at the Horns’ 17. Mayfield is a cool 8-for-9 for 179 yards. Sermon has 47 yards on seven carries. Texas has 19 total yards. Guh.

3:08: UT tries to settle things down by running Ehlinger a bit. Doesn’t work. Two QB keepers gain six yards, and Ehlinger has to throw the ball away on third down as he is again hocked down by Okoronkwo. Another three-and-out. RED ALERT. RED ALERT.

3:03: Uh oh. After a very quick Texas three-and-out (which featured a sack-and-strip by Ogbonnia Okoronkwo), Mayfield finds Mark Andrews for 22 yards into Horn territory, then Sermon rushes twice for 14 yards, and Mayfield escapes pressure to find Andrews again on a third down. The drive stalls out at the 7, but Austin Seibert hits a 25-yard field goal. It’s 10-0 Sooners with 3:49 left. Total yards: 147-13. Time of possession: OU all of it, UT none of it (approximate).

2:45: Next-biggest question: how will Oklahoma's line do against Texas' stout front? Early answer: really, really well. Trey Sermon's first three carries gain 31 yards, then Baker Mayfield stands in the pocket, makes a cup of tea, asks his linemen what they're having for dinner, then hit Jeff Badet for a 54-yard touchdown. 7-0, OU. If UT can't disrupt, the Horns are getting whomped today.

2:40: Texas takes the ball first. I’m thinking one of the huge keys of the game is whether a shaky UT offensive line can create anything for the run game. Texas tries to establish Kyle Porter early with a 15-yard pass and five-yard rush, but on the first third down of the game, Sam Ehlinger finds no one open, and the Horns punt after flipping the field a hair.

2:30: Bill C. here to live blog! Hopefully this’ll be pretty entertaining, but it appears it’s a legal requirement that if I’m blogging a game, that game must stink.

Oklahoma was the victim of 2017’s highest-profile college football upset to date when the Sooners were stunned by Iowa State in their home stadium. On Saturday, they’ll travel to Dallas for a rivalry showdown with an improving Texas Longhorns team. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN (live stream).

The Red River Shootout is one of college football’s most fierce rivalries. The two programs, with 11 claimed national championships between them, have long been the class of the Big 12. A win in Week 7 would keep the Longhorns in a tie for first place in the conference — and continue a massive turnaround from the team’s disappointing opening day loss to Maryland.

A big part of that resurgence has been the play of Sam Ehlinger, who led Texas to a double-overtime win over Kansas State last weekend. Ehlinger has emerged from a quarterback competition to take the reins of a powerful offense that’s scored 40 or more points in three of its five games this fall. His 380-yard, two-touchdown performance last week bolstered his case as one of the Big 12’s top young passers.

Texas will need him to be prolific against an Oklahoma team with one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. Baker Mayfield is averaging 327 passing yards per game or a team that’s scored at least 31 points in each of its games this season. Mayfield’s Heisman hopes rest on a strong finish to his season — and a game against a defense that allowed Maryland to finish with 51 points could be just what he needs to stuff the stat sheet in a big win.

Texas holds the all-time edge in the Shootout with a 61-45-5 edge, but the advantage has swung decidedly in Oklahoma’s favor in recent years. The Sooners have won five of their last seven games in the series as the Longhorns have struggled in the post-Mack Brown era. On Saturday, Tom Herman can earn the biggest win of his budding UT career by dispatching the team’s biggest rival at the Cotton Bowl.

Pregame reading

Texas beat Kansas State in double-overtime on Saturday in Austin, 40-34. K-State kicker Matthew McCrane put a 53-yard field goal off the left upright in that second OT period, and Chris Warren III scored on the ensuing possession to win it.

The converted QB had eight tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery while also serving as a primary spy on Mayfield on passing downs. Then he added 35 rushing yards and 25 passing yards as a wildcat QB, converting four first downs throughout. He even played some on special teams.

At quarterback, sophomore Shane Buechele was listed as a co-starter with freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger despite Ehlinger’s superlative performance against Kansas State in his third start.

Head coach Tom Herman played coy in his press conference, noting that he doesn’t have much incentive to share any knowledge he has of who will start, even if he did know.

To this point, Ehlinger has technically been the Longhorns backup quarterback, filling in for the seemingly ever-injured Buechele. Because of Buechele’s frequent unavailability, though, Ehlinger has now started three of the last four games for Texas, compiling a 2-1 record, which came just 30 seconds short of 3-0 with a staple road victory over then-No. 4 USC.

  • How are Oklahoma fans taking last week’s loss? Not so well.

“I’m thinking of starting drugs ... Not sure alcohol is gonna work for this”

With Michigan losing to Michigan State yesterday, it seems like the path to the playoff for the Sooners will depend on the Big Ten and the Pac-12. I don’t see Bama or Clemson losing the rest of they way, and even if they do, I think the CFP committee will give them the benefit of the doubt and put them into the playoff as one-loss conference champions.