DALLAS -- The final score read Texas 16, Oklahoma 13, ostensibly one of those "instant classics." But anyone who watched Saturday's 104th edition of the Red River Rivalry knows the game was hardly a beauty contest.
A year removed from their memorable 45-35 shootout, the rivals this time showcased their defenses. They also, however, combined for 21 penalties, eight turnovers and a letdown for anyone tuning in to watch star quarterbacks
The game ended in fitting fashion: with McCoy and
But the mood was far from downtrodden in the Longhorns' locker room afterward. Unlike Oklahoma, Ohio State and a whole bunch of other former BCS title contenders, Texas' record remains unblemished.
"We're going to try really hard not to let the 'system' control our fate this year," said Brown, referring to last year's BCS controversy in which the Sooners upended their rivals in the final standings despite Texas' head-to-head victory. "We're not big fans of the 'system' here."
In another parallel to last season, the 'Horns -- which faced a four-game stretch against top 11 opponents around this time -- must now turn around and play consecutive road games at Missouri and Oklahoma State. They do so following a performance that surely raised doubts around the country, but which Brown and his players were spinning afterward as a sign of their impending breakout.
For one thing, they were beaming about a defense that rendered Oklahoma's rushing attack completely impotent. With coordinator
Meanwhile, Texas surprised even itself by running for more yards (142 on 40 attempts) than it gained passing (127). With Oklahoma's defense flustering McCoy throughout the first half ("I saw four or five blitzes I've never seen in my life," said the quarterback) and blanketing his favorite receiver,
"We've been so inconsistent with our running game because we've played so many different running backs," said Brown. "We added some plays [for this game]. We really thought we could win the first five games without much of a running game. The fact we ran the ball really well today is encouraging to me."
Brown saw plenty of other encouraging signs in a game in which Oklahoma unquestionably dominated the first half (outgaining Texas 192 yards to 99), yet led just 6-3 at halftime due in large part to consecutive second quarter special-teams turnovers (a muffed punt by
The Horns unveiled several budding standouts, most notably freshman receiver
"Marquise is a guy that's going to be a super player for us, not just in the future but this year," said Brown, who later bear-hugged the freshman as he left the press-conference dais.
Arguably the biggest play of the game, however, came from a familiar figure: McCoy. Only this time, he did it on defense.
With 6:03 remaining and Texas at the Oklahoma 13 poised for a potential game-sealing score, McCoy -- hampered by a cold that had depleted his energy and a first-quarter thumb injury (it appeared he hurt his nail) -- threw a quick out right into the hands of Sooners cornerback
"I knew I was going to make the tackle," said McCoy, who completed just 21-of-39 passes (he came in with a 73.4 completion percentage). "I was mad enough already."
Neither he nor his teammates were angry with their overall performance, though. If anything, McCoy seemed fired up afterward.
"We know we're 6-0, and the good thing is, we know we haven't played up to our potential," he said. "We have so much room for improvement. It might get scary if we start playing really well."
In the opposing locker room, Sooners coach
Oklahoma could still rebound to win the Big 12 South, but it will need a lot of help. And it might not be coming from its Heisman-winning quarterback, whose OU career, sadly, looks like it may have ended Saturday.
"It's really hard to put into words the frustration I feel right now," said Bradford.
The Cotton Bowl is becoming a frequent source of frustration for the Sooners, which have now lost four of the past five Red River games (after winning five straight before that). Texas, on the other hand, can still attain all the goals it set this preseason -- even if the journey so far has been rockier than anticipated.
"We haven't played near our best game yet," said Brown. "That's what I like about this team. They're 6-0 and not even close to where we can be."
In one regard, the 'Horns are exactly where they want to be: still in control of their BCS destiny.