DALLAS — Like a throwback to Red River games from yesteryear, the Oklahoma defense played a leading role in a victory over Texas. The No. 6 Sooners sacked Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger nine times in a 34-27 win Saturday at the Cotton Bowl. CeeDee Lamb (10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns) was the star for an OU offense that missed golden opportunities in the first half. The Sooners twice turned the ball over inside the Texas 20-yard line (one Jalen Hurts fumble, one Hurts interception), keeping the Longhorns deficit just seven until late in the second quarter. But the OU defense played with an aggression missing in recent years, led by linebacker Kenneth Murray's five tackles and a sack. Delarrin Turner-Yell was the Sooners' leading tackler with 10. No. 11 Texas tied the game at 10 midway through the third quarter, but OU immediately answered with a three-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Lamb on a flea-flicker. Hurts hit Lamb for a 27-yard score early in the fourth quarter after Texas had cut the margin to 20-17. Hurts overcame his early mistakes to finish with more than 300 yards of offense. His 3-yard rushing touchdown with less than five minutes increased the lead to 34-20.
Sooners' defense stands tall in 34-27 win over Texas at the Cotton Bowl
This Oklahoma defense appears to be for real. A swarming Sooners attack never let Texas get comfortable and new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch celebrated his first big victory in Saturday’s 34-27 win over Texas inside the Cotton Bowl Stadium. It was a measuring-stick game and OU passed with flying colors.
Bill Haisten: CeeDee Lamb strengthens his status as an all-time OU-Texas hero
As a wide receiver who excels as a target, as a blocker and as a punt-return specialist, CeeDee Lamb already was considered one of the more significant Sooners of the past 20 years. On Saturday, he was at the maximum level of significance. It’s undeniable: While the Sooners defense was heroic, sixth-ranked OU doesn’t beat 11th-ranked Texas 34-27 without Lamb’s 10-catch, 171-yard, three-touchdown performance.
The Back Meter went on the road this week to Dallas for the Red River Showdown.
First down | Story of the game
Sooners defense makes statement The progress of the OU defense so far this year had been admirable, but given the schedule was it real? The Sooners offered an emphatic yes to that question Saturday in the Cotton Bowl. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, five touchdowns in last year’s 48-45 Longhorns Red River win, was under duress from the word go Saturday. He was sacked nine times, as the Sooners sent extra rushers from every angle, and he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. “To play the way we need to play, we have to affect the quarterback some,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “Sam is too good of a player. “I don’t think it was anything schematically. We had a good mentality.” — Michael Peters, Tulsa World
Second down | Matchup that mattered
OU wins battles up front on offense and defense The Sooners controlled play on both the offensive and defensive lines. On defense, that fact seemed obvious given the pressure Ehlinger faced and the Sooners’ 15 tackles for loss. On offense, the control the Sooners exerted was a little less noticeable given the team’s red zone struggles. OU got just three points during three straight trips inside the Texas 12 in the first half, but the signs were there for the Sooners second-half breakout. In the end, the OU offense averaged 7.3 yards per rush (as Jalen Hurts set a Cotton Bowl rushing record for a quarterback with 131 yards) and had nine plays of 20 or more yards. — Michael Peters, Tulsa World
Third down | Game MVP
Lamb on offense; Murray on defense The Sooners were good enough to have two. CeeDee Lamb was OU’s offensive star, with 10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns. His 51-yard touchdown catch on a trick play in the third quarter allowed the Sooners to answer after Texas tied the game at 10. He was wide open when he made the catch, but he made a couple of Longhorns defenders miss to turn the play into a touchdown. “He was pretty good today,” Riley said. “No doubt we’ve been able to coach some great wideouts over the years. We’ve still got some time together. I’m not going to anoint him yet. He knows that.” Linebacker Kenneth Murray provided the energy the rest of the OU defense fed of off Saturday. He had five tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss, but if someone said his numbers were double you could have believed it. “I’m a true believer that the past doesn’t define you,” Murray said. “This is a new year, and we have a completely different approach. I’m proud of the way we’re playing right now.” — Michael Peters, Tulsa World
Fourth down | What’s next
Sooners look to avoid a letdown Another week, another 11 a.m. kickoff on FOX23. The Sooners return home to face West Virginia, hoping to avoid any type of Red River hangover. OU has won four straight post Red River games, last losing the week after playing Texas in 2014 (31-30 at home to Kansas State). The Mountaineers are under first-year coach Neal Brown and opened Big 12 play with a narrow win over Kansas. West Virginia lost at home to Texas 42-31 a week ago. — Michael Peters, Tulsa World
Related: Complete Red River Showdown coverage
Notebook: Tackles make surprise start; both teams get pregame penalty flag after trash talk
At the end of pregame warm-ups, OU and Texas players massed at midfield for a serious trash-talk session. No punches were thrown, but referee Mike Defee responded in a strong way. He threw a flag and announced that every player on each team was on record as having committed an unsportsmanlike-conduct infraction.
Jalen Hurts owns up to early mistakes, but says overall OU's win was a 'step in the right direction'
Hurts committed two critical red-zone turnovers in the first half. He had a fumble at the Texas 7-yard line after a 27-yard dash and later threw an interception in the end zone while trying to force the ball into traffic. He owned up to his miscues and expressed appreciation for his teammates. “I will say I definitely didn’t put the team in the greatest and best situations, but the key about that is ‘we.’ We found ways to overcome it. We had each other’s back,” Hurts said. “Obviously, every possession you want it to end in a kick (field goal or PAT).
Flipbook highlights of OU's win over Texas
OU coach Lincoln Riley talks after the Sooners win over Texas
Texas coach Tom Herman gives his opening statement after the Longhorns loss to OU
NO. 6 OKLAHOMA VS. NO. 11 TEXAS 11 a.m. Saturday, Cotton Bowl, Dallas TV: FOX23 Radio: KMOD-97.5, KTBZ-1430 Records: Oklahoma 5-0, 2-0 in Big 12; Texas 4-1, 2-0 Last meeting: The Sooners defeated Texas 39-27 in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 1, 2018 in the Big 12 Championship game. All-time series: Texas leads 62-47-5.
FOX23 James Aydelott's forecast: Sunny. Kickoff, 56°.
When Oklahoma runs
While everyone gets enamored with the playmakers, this game is typically won in the trenches. Oklahoma has a beat-up offensive line that’s started five different groups in five games. It’s unknown if tackles Erik Swenson or Adrian Ealy will be available. Texas must account for not only Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks and Rhamondre Stevenson, but also Jalen Hurts. The quarterback has a team-high 499 rushing yards. — Eric Bailey, Tulsa World What Guerin Emig says The Longhorns are much stiffer against the run, but they haven’t defended an attack like OU’s. Even if a hobbled Kennedy Brooks can’t go, Trey Sermon, Rhamondre Stevenson and Hurts should have success on the ground.
When Oklahoma passes
The Longhorns’ secondary is coming off its best game in years after gathering four interceptions against West Virginia and former OU quarterback Austin Kendall. But will Texas have depth to keep up with the Sooners? Much like the Oklahoma offensive line, the Texas secondary has been battered by injury. Jalen Hurts has been accurate throwing the football this season, but has had interceptions in back-to-back games. — Eric Bailey, Tulsa World What Guerin Emig says Jalen Hurts, the most efficient passer in college football, takes aim at the worst (by far) pass defense in the Big 12 Conference, statistically speaking. That’s a mismatch with one caveat – Texas does have a Big 12-leading nine interceptions.
When Texas runs
Much like the Sooners, it’s no surprise when quarterback Sam Ehlinger runs the football. The junior has 51 carries this season (just six less than Jalen Hurts) for 236 yards. But the main backs in the attack are Keaontay Ingram (313 yards) and Roschon Johnson (268). Oklahoma will have to make plays at the point of attack and play physical in short-yardage situations, where Ehlinger is most dangerous. What Guerin Emig says Longhorn backs Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson are steady but hardly spectacular. That leaves Ehlinger, who looks like he might clock a 5.0 40 but runs harder than anyone in the Cotton Bowl. — Eric Bailey, Tulsa World
When Texas passes
Sam Ehlinger has been accurate distributing the football, connecting on 69.4 percent of his attempts. He also has thrown 17 touchdowns against only two interceptions. This will be an interesting matchup for the Sooners, who will have much smaller defensive backs against the long, rangy Texas players. Devin Duvernay has 45 receptions for a team-best 463 yards. Look for the Longhorns to use their intermediate passing game with routes to challenge the OU linebackers. — Eric Bailey, Tulsa World What Guerin Emig says The biggest difference in OU’s defense under Alex Grinch is in the secondary, where cornerbacks are staying with receivers and making plays on passes. That should help against Sam Ehlinger, it just won’t keep Texas’ terrific quarterback from hitting targets.
OU fans won’t soon forget Cameron Dicker, who hit a 40-yard field goal that provided the winning score in last year’s 48-45 win. He’s 4-of-6 on field goals this season and connected on a 57-yard attempt. D’Shawn Johnson had a 98-yard kickoff return for a score against Rice. OU counters with Gabe Brkic, who has made all three of his field-goal attempts. CeeDee Lamb had a 46-yard punt return against Kansas last week. — Eric Bailey, Tulsa World What Guerin Emig says While Texas’ Cameron Dicker made the winning field goal a year ago, OU’s Gabe Brkic has kicked in two college games. The Sooners have an edge in punting with Reeves Mundschau and in the return game with CeeDee Lamb.
Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Texas’ Tom Herman are in their third seasons, respectively, at their schools. Riley holds a 2-1 edge over Herman in head-to-head matchups. Both coaches are considered to have strong offensive minds and that’s been displayed during their careers. What Guerin Emig says Lincoln Riley is the most coveted offensive coach in football, college or pro. — Eric Bailey, Tulsa World
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