OU Football Point After: Not a Lot Good to Say about Saturday’s Texas Two-Step


Sports psychologists are quick to point out: It’s not so much that you get knocked down or out, it’s what you do afterward that matters most. That what the OU football program is confronted with after receiving a big-time punch in the mouth from archrival Texas on Saturday in the annual Red River Showdown in Dallas.

It might seem easy to dismiss or ignore the obvious and pawn off Saturday’s stunning result – the 24-17 Texas victory over heavily favored Sooners – as what so often happens in a heated, emotionally driven rivalry series like this one when it isn’t always the best team that wins but rather the best team on the field that day. And there was no question that the Longhorns were the better team on Saturday.

Oct 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (98) and defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr. (93) sack Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) in the second quarter during the Red River rivalry at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

You can point fingers in many directions because its was a collective losing effort so far as the Sooners were concerned. In my view, however, it boils down to two primary factors that ultimately turned the outcome of the game and returned the symbolic Golden Hat to the Longhorn Nation:

  • The inability of the Oklahoma offensive line to handle the pressure from the Texas defense and protect quarterback Baker Mayfield, allowing him enough time to find open receivers, and
  • The Sooners’ defense could not contain the Texas running game, with both Longhorn freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard and running back D’Onta Foreman gaining more than 100 yards on the ground. And when OU was in place to make the play the tackle, the Sooner defenders waved at far too many Longhorn ball carriers.

Oklahoma allowed 313 rushing yards, 81 of those coming on a backbreaking run by Foreman on the final play of the third quarter, setting the Longhorns up at the Sooner 10-yard line and knocking on the door for an eventual score that would put them up by two scores and effectively seal the game.

Oct 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is sacked by Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (98) defensive end Bryce Cottrell (91) and Naashon Hughes (40) during Red River rivalry at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It is no coincidence that the team with the 67th-ranked rush defense (Oklahoma) could not stop the Texas running game, which ranked 67th in the country coming into the game (an average of 171.4 yards per game), and that the OU rushing attack was shut down and limited to a total of just 67 yards total on the ground on 37 running plays, a pathetic 1.8 yards per rush.

After the game, Sooner defensive coordinator Mike Stoops told reporters:

"“I thought Jay (Norvell, former Oklahoma assistant who is now calling the offensive plays for Texas) did an excellent job setting their quarterback run game. (It) kept us at bay (and) kept us off balance really (all game). “We tried to make some adjustments to the run game. There was some plays we didn’t see,” he said, “but there’s a lot – the sprint draw that went for 80 late in the third quarter – that we’ve worked on.”"

On the Sooners’ inability to establish their own running game, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley had this to say in the postgame press conference:

Oct 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops yells at Oklahoma Sooners safety Hatari Byrd (4) during a time out in the game against the Texas Longhorns at the Red River rivalry at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Texas won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

"“We tried to establish something, but we weren’t great at it. The problem was we would have a couple of good runs, and then you get sacked and get behind the chains and its tough. You’re not able to do as much and obviously running better will help you stay in front of it, but we just physically got beat…they beat us up front, they beat us in coverage.”"

With the frustration of the afternoon written all over his face and echoed in his words, Bob Stoops‘ summation of the game was as follows:

"“Offensively (Texas) got pressure on us all day, whether they were blitzing or not, and we weren’t able to run the football very effectively. So, all in all, they kicked us.”"

Here are some other notable developments in Texas’ 24-17 victory, the Longhorns’ 61st all-time in the 110th annual Red River rivalry game:

  • In five of the last six Red River Showdown games when Texas has been the home team and worn its burnt orange home jerseys and Oklahoma has worn its white road uniforms with the red striping, the Longhorns have won the game, just as they did on Saturday. The same scenario exists when the Sooners are the home team. OU is 5-1 in its last six Red River games as the home team.
  • Through five games in the 2015 season, the Sooners are experiencing a total reversal in rushing offense and rushing defense this season. Oklahoma led the Big 12 in both rushing and stopping the run on defense. After rushing for just 67 yards against the Longhorns on Saturday and yielding 311 rushing yards when Texas ran the ball, the Sooners are third worst in the conference in both categories this season. Warning signal?
  • Austin Seibert’s 21-yard field goal in the second quarter that put the Sooners on the scoreboard for the first time in the game was his eighth in eight FG tries this season. That is a new school record for the most consecutive field goals by an OU player to begin his career.
  • Fullback Dimitri Flowers’ sliding two-yard touchdown pass for Oklahoma in the third quarter, cutting the Texas lead to 17-10, was the first career touchdown.
  • This is the 10th time OU has come into the Red River Showdown undefeated in the 17 seasons Bob Stoops has been the Sooner head coach. The Sooners are now 7-3 against Texas in those game.
  • Only eight times since 1989 have the Longhorns not been ranked in the top 25 when they faced a ranked Oklahoma team. Texas is now 6-2 in that situation.
  • Baker Mayfield completed 20 of 28 passes, a 71.4 percent completion rate, his highest of the season, for 211 yards and no interceptions. He was 14 for 16 for 166 yards in the second half. He has thrown a touchdown pass in his first five games as the OU starting quarterback.
  • Sterling Shepard caught six passes in the game, giving him 173 for his career, fifth best in OU football history. The senior wide receiver now ranks fourth in program history in career receiving yards. He had 95 yards receiving against Texas, moving him ahead of Kenny Stills with 2,610 for his OU career.