Oklahoma-Texas: Sooners hold off Longhorn stampede, win 29-24

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14: Mark Andrews
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14: Mark Andrews /

So much for the home team string of consecutive wins in the annual Oklahoma-Texas border brawl. You can scratch Baker Mayfield’s 200-plus pass attempts without an interception as well.

Both streaks came to an end on sun-soaked natural turf of the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. One streak that didn’t reach an end, however, was the ability of Mayfield to rip the heart out of an opponent with the game on the line and seize victory from the jaws of defeat.

Oklahoma squandered a 20-0 first-half lead, allowing Texas to score 24 of the next 30 points and come all the way back in the 112th edition of the Red River Showdown to take a 24-23 lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.

To add insult to injury, on a Sooner possession late in the third quarter, with OU holding on to a slim six-point lead, Mayfield was taken to the ground hard by a Texas blitz and immediately hobbled off the field favoring his throwing shoulder.

With Mayfield seated on the Sooner bench attended to by the OU medical staff, it appeared for a brief couple of minutes that backup QB Kyler Murray, who was hurriedly warming up on the sidelines, was going to be called to duty.

Anyone who knows Mayfield, though, knows you would have to break his arm to keep him out of his final Red River rivalry game.

On what turned out to be Oklahoma’s next to last possession of the game, the Sooners started out on their own 22-yard line, following the Texas go-ahead touchdown. Mayfield completed a first-down pass for eight yards to Mark Andrews. On second down, Rodney Anderson broke free for an 11-yard run and a Sooner first down at their own 42-yard line.

On the very next play from scrimmage, Mayfield hit a wide-open Andrews streaking down the right sideline, who outraced the Texas defenders to the end zone to put the Sooners back on top and change the course of the game.

The Longhorns responded, as they did the entire second half, marching 42 yards on 12 plays. But faced with fourth-and-13 on the Oklahoma 34-yard line and needing a touchdown to regain the lead, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw an incomplete pass and the ball went over to Oklahoma on downs.

Texas would have one final possession, taking over on its own 28-yard line with 42 seconds remaining. The Longhorns would run six plays for just 12 yards before time ran out, preserving Oklahoma second consecutive Red River victory and 13th win over Texas against nine losses in the Big 12 era.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Ehlinger, a true freshman, kept the Oklahoma defense off balance the entire second half, using a combination of his arm and his legs. Over the final four minutes of the first half and 22 minutes into the second half, the Longhorn offense outscored the Sooners 24-3, while the Texas defense, tightened down the screws.

Ehlinger completed 19 of 39 passes for 278 yards and ran for 110 yards, including a rushing touchdown. Mayfield had 302 yards passing for Oklahoma, including two long touchdown passes, and came through when Oklahoma really needed it, shaking off several big second-half hits by the charged-up Texas defensive front, including the one that came close to knocking him out of the game.

Ehlinger wasn’t the only true freshman that shined in this bruising, hard-fought rivalry game. Trey Sermon of Oklahoma did yeoman’s work leading the Sooner ground game. The freshman running back from Marietta, Georgia, ground out 96 yards, averaging 4.8 yards on 20 carries.

Mayfield sliced up the Texas secondary for 239 yards passing in the first half, but the Sooners were limited to  just 105 more yards through the air the rest of the game, 53 of that on the game-winning TD pass from Mayfield to Andrews.

The Oklahoma defense, which was torched for over 800 combined passing yards in its last two games (in a game the Sooners almost lost at Baylor and one they did lose at home to Iowa State), allowed Ehlinger and the Longhorn receivers just 289 total yards through the air on Saturday.

Next: Where does OU-Texas rate among the best college football rivalries?

It was a hot afternoon in Dallas and the heat was starting to take its toll in the later stages of the game on the OU defense, with several Sooners having to leave the field with leg cramps.

But the Oklahoma “D” held down the fort when it counted the most, and the Sooners left the Cotton Bowl early Saturday evening victorious and with the Golden Hat trophy in hand and proudly propped on their collective heads.