Texas Announces Its Arrival by Outlasting Oklahoma in an Instant Classic

At the end of a heart-stopping quarterback showcase in the Cotton Bowl, it came down to one last kick.
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DALLAS – True freshman kicker Cameron Dicker knocked through a 40-yard field goal and Texas survived a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Oklahoma 48–45 in a wild Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl.

The Longhorns claimed their biggest victory in arguably eight years, stunning the late-charging Sooners but only after giving up a 21-point fourth quarter lead. Dicker nailed his kick after quarterback Sam Ehlinger marched Texas down. On that final drive, a pass interference penalty drawn by Collin Johnson put the Horns at their oen 39 before Ehlinger completed an 18-yard pass to Devin Duvernay and a seven-yarder to Andrew Beck, then ran for 13 yards on three carries to get Dicker into position.

Three thoughts on a thrill ride at the Texas State Fair:

Texas is back—barely

Yes, they had to survive a late scare, but they did. So, can we finally say it and mean it? That’s how it feels. The Longhorns rolled the Sooners for long stretches of Saturday’s game in what felt like the awakening of a sleeping giant. Texas had lost seven consecutive games against teams ranked seventh or better since a 20–13 win over Nebraska in October of 2010. The Horns were outscored 288–115 in those matchups. Texas hasn’t beaten an OU team ranked this high since topping the top-ranked Sooners 45–35 in 2008.

Three Top 25 wins in four games is one heck of a step in the right direction. Tom Herman has a dual-threat quarterback he trusts in Sam Ehlinger and a defense that slowed one of the nation’s most electric players for just long enough.

Sam Ehlinger vs. Kyler Murray met the hype

Texas fans have waited years for a playmaking quarterback who can take over a game. Ehlinger did that Saturday, arguably outplaying Heisman Trophy contender Kyler Murray. He completed 10 of his first 12 attempts and led back-to-back 75-yard second-quarter touchdown drives. He was the star of the latter drive, catching a reverse pass for eight yards, completing a 19-yarder and running for 14 on another. The Longhorns used their size at receiver against outmatched Sooners cornerbacks to gain a huge advantage: 6'6" Collin Johnson and 6'4" Lil’Jordan Humphrey combined for 13 catches and 200 yards through the first three quarters alone.

Then Murray and the Sooners almost did the unthinkable. Down by three touchdowns with nine minutes left, Oklahoma roared to life, scoring touchdowns on three straight possessions and forcing three consecutive punts from the Longhorns. Murray passed for a 19-yard score, then opened the next drive with a 67-yard touchdown gallop and completing the comeback with a five-yard screen pass to Trey Sermon that the running back took 35 yards. 

Murray had a costly fumble in the third quarter and threw an interception in the second, all resulting in 10 Longhorns points. Texas spied him well, containing him to just 33 yards on nine carries in the first three quarters. Ehlinger, meanwhile, marched his team into field goal position with such composure and production that it makes you wonder how in the world this squad lost to Maryland on Labor Day weekend.

Oklahoma done in by defense

The Sooners’ defense is having a rough stretch. Coordinator Mike Stoops’s unit gave up 339 yards rushing to Army before escaping in overtime, nearly 500 total to Baylor and 360 through the air against Iowa State. Texas moved the ball at will in this one, opening the game by scoring on its first five drives and rolling up more than 450 total yards. The Longhorns didn’t punt until midway through the third quarter.

The most frustrating part for Oklahoma: the Horns were behind the 8-ball time and time again, never moreso than on their opening drive of the second half. Texas got 19 yards on a third-and-21 before converting a fourth-and-two and then converted a third-and-10. The drive ended in a touchdown and a 31–17 lead. Later, The Longhorns converted a third-and-four on the way to a 38–24 lead with 6:21 left in the third quarter. At one point, UT had three 75-yard touchdown drives of at least eight plays in a four-drive span, putting on a clinic against the defense. Bob Stoops was in attendance Saturday, and you have to wonder about his thoughts on his brother’s unit.