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When Oklahoma Needed Him Most in the Cotton Bowl, WR Jalil Farooq Delivered

The junior pass catcher set a new career-high with 130 receiving yards in Oklahoma's 34-30 win in the 2023 Red River Rivalry.

DALLAS — Stars shine the brightest in the Red River Rivalry.

Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel penned his name forever into OU lore with his final drive Saturday, culminating in a 3-yard touchdown pass to seal a 34-30 win over Texas at the Cotton Bowl.

And while Gabriel was essential to No. 12 OU’s upset over the No. 3-ranked Longhorns, he also got huge contributions from wide receiver Jalil Farooq downfield throughout the day.

The junior pass catcher sprung a 16-yard gain to help get Oklahoma’s final drive rolling, just one part of his five catch, 130-yard receiving effort that set a new career-high.

Not only did Farooq rack up the yards, he seemingly was at the heart of every OU scoring drive.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby used him in the running game, and he had a 7-yard rush on the Sooners’ first touchdown drive.

Farooq make Longhorn would-be tacklers miss on a 43-yard catch-and-run to help set up OU’s first field goal.

Gabriel found the junior for a 19-yard completion on third down to help extend another second quarter touchdown drive, as well as another 34-yard catch on the field goal drive right before halftime.

After the game, Farooq credited his ability to show out in the biggest spot of the season to all of the preparation the coaching staff threw his way during the offseason.

“Just to go back to like 365 days since we had this game, just us everyday working out with Coach (Jerry Schmidt),” he said, “we've been in there.

“… Just putting in work consistently. So I just thought back to them days. So just being able to make plays when I can. Big time players make plays, so every opportunity I get I take advantage of it.”

Farooq’s start to the season was surpassingly slow considering he and Drake Stoops were the only two Oklahoma pass catchers with significant returning experience.

The emergence of Andrel Anthony and Nic Anderson, as well as Gabriel’s phenomenal efficiency has spread the ball all across OU’s offense.

But against the best defense the Sooners had seen to date, Gabriel turned time and time again to his proven weapon, and Farooq rewarded the faith of his veteran quarterback — especially on the final drive.

“That’s what we practice week in and week out,” Gabriel said. “Just proud of everyone coming together, controlling the chaos and just dialing it in.

“That’s big-time football and something you dream of as a little kid, so just being part of it is something special, especially with these guys in that locker room. I love every single one of them.”

Now with half of the regular season still in front of the Sooners, the offense will continue to expect big plays from Farooq.

”When he’s had the football in his hands, he’s done really good things,” Lebby said. “We look for that to continue.”