You've gotta learn to withstand the surge, Sooners.
36-20, Texas - and it wasn't that close. At least if you're just old school enough to view football as an imposition of will of one team on another. And when it's played in the Cotton Bowl in October, it really isn't much more than that. It's a fight with the hopes that a football game breaks out. Texas showed up to fight. Oklahoma graced us with their presence and expected to roll again - and it was written all over their game planning. They reeked of lethargy. I've never seen a more ill-prepared Sooner staff in a Texas game in recent memory and it's shocking that Sooner DC Mike Stoops couldn't find his copy of the Case Rules while OC Josh Heupel didn't notice that opposing QBs average around 10 yards per carry against us. Blake Bell didn't notch a rush in the entire first half. OU's DBs allowed 1st down throws on stop routes that are McCoy's favorite candy and didn't jam outside receivers in single man. Weird, right?
Texas fans, this day is about celebration. And enjoyment. And reveling and revelry.
Forget debating what this means to Mack's future. The final season narrative may shift, but the end game hasn't.
Forget thinking about what this means for the conference race. We're a flawed team in a flawed conference and it's going to play out in ways no one will predict. Unless Baylor just boat races everyone. Which could happen.
It's folly to debate whether this means that the switch has flipped on for this team. This was a proper Texas-OU game - with weird momentum swings, raw emotion, strange decisions - and projection for either team going forward is deceptive and nearly impossible.
Don't fret if this was just a high water mark on another ultimately disappointing season once we face QBs who don't react to pass rush likes fakes snakes in a peanut can and nose tackles who don't squat to make wee-wee. I enjoyed OU wins during the McWilliams era by 5-6 Texas teams and in the Mackovic era by 6-5 teams. A win over OU is always sweet.
Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the win. We beat our most hated, fiercest rival (sorry Aggies, they are, you'll never understand) and the Longhorns did it by dominating with defense, running between the tackles, and with timely deep passing. Texas Football, vintage. As much as I love the modern era of football and wide open offense - there's still something in those elements that stirs me. Because they're so damn Texas.
Defense and special teams won this game (13 non-offensive points, nice), even given the Texas offense's surprising and impressive performance. Nice job by Greg Robinson. That's the fundamentals-stressing teacher I remember from 2004, not the laughingstock of Syracuse and Michigan fame. He made a smart wager early that Blake Bell couldn't throw the ball and he got his charges to play hard, tough football for four quarters - forcing turnovers, scoring defensive touchdowns, tackling fairly well, and successfully baiting the Sooner staff into some bizarre tactical choices. That was a confident defense. And that confidence fed their play on the field.
I'm not sure what possessed OU to not test us with the full power, option, and lead draw QB running game given the templates laid out by so many Longhorn opponents, but thank you, Sooners. Mighty neighborly.
The secondary was outstanding, with Adrian Phillips excelling as a run force and Duke Thomas thriving in single coverage. The Texas LBs competed - they put together a mixed bag of film, but Dalton Santos really made some nice plays before his injury. I was particularly impressed with the Texas DL - Jeffcoat and Reed won their battles (Reed is probably my current midseason MVP), Whaley scored an extraordinarily opportunistic TD on a zone blitz drop back, and M Brown continued his push for All-Conference honors inside.
We bent, but never broke. And OU was 2 of 13 on 3rd down. End of story.
I thought there were ways OU could have attacked us - but they didn't. So tough luck to them. Coach better next time. And find a QB as wonderfully composed as our own.
I almost pulled that off.
If you'd told me before the game that we'd drop 250+ rushing with Case at QB and that both Gray and Brown would break 100 each, I'd have backed away slowly with my hands up offering a non-threatening gesture to someone who is obviously a delusional danger to themselves and others.
But we did. Why? Because Espinosa and Hopkins, in particular, dropped an epic schooling on OU's inexperienced nose tackle and interior run blitzing LBs, forcing a no-nonsense Longhorn running game straight down OU's throat. The final 4th quarter drive with Brown gouging a tapped out Sooner defense at 4 to 8 yards per pop despite their 8 man fronts was about as sweet as it gets. Throughout the game, OU shifted from 4-3 to 3-4 looks and though we had a couple of hesitation gaffes, for the most part, our OL found a Sooner defender and beat him up. 13 of 20 on 3rd down and 82 offensive plays only happens if your big guys are getting it done and this game was a powerful vindication for the last couple of years in which Texas OLs showed up indifferent, if not scared, of the game's physicality.
Case McCoy - wow. That's about as well as he can play - even with a few critical errors. The good outweighed the bad. And Applewhite did a masterful job of setting him up properly. He was well-protected save a couple of free kill shots, we let him pick his spots in play action instead of putting a 40+ attempt Win The Game For Us burden on him, and he kept derpitude to a minimum save the 4th quarter interception TD and a couple of blown open throws. Congrats to Case. He played his best game as a Texas Longhorn. Better coached and smarter defenses will reveal how our formula can be challenged, but for now, CASE MCCOY MOXIE GUTTY WINNER 4EVER.
Jaxon Shipley (5-59) will be likely overlooked in the post game conversation given that Davis and Johnson hit pay dirt for long touchdowns, but his catches were clutch, timely, crucial, and the threat of him using OU's corners from the slot in single coverage extended four of our drives and helped create some space for our running game.
OU got out-coached. Badly. Mike Stoops never got his hands on a copy of the Case Rules - or if he did, he did a poor job of communicating them to his charges. How many 3rd downs did we convert on short stop routes right at the marker? And how many deep balls did we have where the OU DB never challenged our WR at the LOS with a reasonable jam? What exactly was OU doing?
Did OU scout us at all? Because their respective game plans on either side of the ball were garbage. It's like we'd had a pre-game brain transplant.
Anthony Fera was a perfect 3 of 3, including a 43 and 50 yarder. We weren't always glorious on our interesting teams (see OU kickoff returns) but when Daje Johnson planted his foot and saw his blocking on that key punt return, 85 yards and a Longhorn victory were assured. Best player on the field.
Texas started prepping for OU during their 10 day ISU build-up. That much is clear. And I'll wager OU didn't extra-prep Texas in their customary fashion - stealing entire days of work when facing weak non-conference opponents to focus on the Longhorns. Partly because of Notre Dame last week, partly because after the last three years - why would they?
But to everyone's surprise, and, let's be honest: including our own - Texas showed up to fight. And OU never knew what hit them. I'm not sure I do either.