Oklahoma football: Three takeaways from a game full of give aways

Oklahoma's Kennedy Brooks (26) runs for the game-winning touchdown the Red River Showdown college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Texas (UT) Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Oklahoma won 55-48.Ou Vs Texas
Oklahoma's Kennedy Brooks (26) runs for the game-winning touchdown the Red River Showdown college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Texas (UT) Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Oklahoma won 55-48.Ou Vs Texas /

In a day in college football filled with fantastic finishes, it is hard to top the improbable, 21-point, come-from-behind Oklahoma football win over hated archrival Texas at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday.

The annual OU-Texas Red River Showdown was the main attraction at the State Fair of Texas on Saturday, and for the 92,000 energized fans in attendance inside the Cotton Bowl, the game itself did not disappoint.

Their were all kinds of giveaways in this year’s OU-Texas showdown that was dominated by big-play offensive firepower. Defensive breakdowns led to big plays on both sides. Oklahoma suffered a blocked punt, an interception and a fumble, and the lone Texas turnover, a fumble on a kickoff return, proved to be a critical mistake, setting up OU’s go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

Down by 21 points in the first quarter, No. 6 Oklahoma kept scratching and clawing and, like championship-caliber teams do, found a way to come back and win this game, despite having every reason to fold up the tent early in this one and live to fight another day. The Sooner didn’t and it paid off with an enormous win over a very good Texas Longhorn team.

Here are three Big Tex-size takeaways that help tell the story of this incredible game:

Kennedy Brooks played the game of his life, and at just the right time

Entering Saturday’s rivalry game with Texas, Kennedy Brooks had totaled 318 rushing yards in the Sooners’ first five games of the season and was averaging 5.8 yards per carry. On Saturday, the junior running back ran for a career-high 217 yards on 25 carries, an average of 8.6 yards per carry. His previous career high was 182 rushing yards in his redshirt-freshman year in 2018

Most of Brooks’ 217 rushing yards against Texas came in the second half. Brooks 22-yard touchdown run in the closing seconds of the game, his second of the afternoon, capped off an MVP-type performance and secured the improbable win for the Sooners.

Do the Sooners now have a quarterback controversy?

It wasn’t that unusual to see Spencer Rattler pulled from the game in the second quarter on Saturday after coughing up the football and earlier in the game having thrown an interception. At the time of Rattler’s fumble, Texas was leading Oklahoma 28-17 and the Sooners had the ball at the Longhorn 48-yard line.

The same thing happened in last year’s OU-Texas game after Rattler had thrown his second interception in the game in the opening half. Rattler sat out the final six minutes of the first half in last season’s Red River Showdown. He returned to the game in the second half and helped lead the Sooners to a win in four overtimes.

On Saturday, however, Rattler remained on the sidelines in the second half, as Lincoln Riley stayed with Williams. It was one of those decisions that could have easily backfired. Williams’ playing time had been extremely limited prior to Saturday, not to mention the score deficit the Sooners were facing and in one of the most pressurized environments Oklahoma will experiences all season.

The decision proved to be brilliant, however. as Williams not only ran for a 66-yard touchdown but completed 16 of 25 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, including a 52-yarder to Marvin Mims, who made a phenomenal toe-tap catch to pull the Sooners to within two points of the Longhorns at 41-39. OU then added a two-point conversion on a pass from Spencer Rattler to Drake Stoops to pull even with Texas at 41-41.

Lincoln Riley said after the game he was not going to name who would start next week’s game with TCU, but there is sure to be plenty of conversation all over social media in the days ahead about Oklahoma’s new quarterback controversy.

Down and almost left for dead, OU shows no quit

In hindsight, the way this game played out was strikingly similar to the 2019 game between Oklahoma and Baylor. In the 2019 game at Baylor, the Bears got off to a lightening start just like Texas did non Saturday. Baylor was up 28-3 over the Sooners just three and a half minutes into the second quarter, and it appeared in every way that a blowout was in process. We all know how that game ultimately turned out.

Fast forward back to Saturday, Texas electrified its 45,000 fans in attendance, jumping out to a 14-0 advantage before two minutes was gone in the opening quarter. The Longhorns reached the end zone four times in the first quarter alone, the first time they had scored that many first-quarter points in the long history of this series.

By halftime, Texas had stretched its lead to 38-20, but somehow the Sooners were still sticking around.

Oklahoma changed quarterbacks midway through the second quarter, going with true freshman Caleb Williams in place of Spencer Rattler. Williams led the Sooners in a remarkable second-half comeback, outscoring the Longhorns 35-10 over the second 30 minutes and rolling up 370 of their 662 total yards of offense. Kennedy Brooks finished off the Sooner win and a sensational individual performance with a 22-yard touchdown run, his second of the game.

The Sooners trailed by 18 points, 41-23, with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter and scored 25 unanswered points to take their first lead in the game at 48-41.

This was the largest comeback win for Oklahoma (21 points) in the history of the Red River rivalry series. The previous biggest comeback was when OU overcame an 11-point deficit in the 1996 game and also in 2002.