College Football: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35
DALLAS ó The Texas Longhorns came into their annual showdown against the Oklahoma Sooners with a quarterback they could trust and a defense playing great under an aggressive new coordinator. Yet even after five solid wins, coach Mack Brown still wondered how good they were.
Now, everyone knows.
Trailing the No. 1 Sooners nearly all game, Colt McCoy and the No. 5 Longhorns grabbed control in the fourth quarter and refused to let go, pulling away for a 45-35 victory Saturday in one of the greatest games in the storied series between these Red River rivals.
Texas trailed by 11 twice in the first half and by eight in the third quarter before spoiling a fake punt and turning it into a go-ahead field goal. It was the first time all season the mighty Sooners were behind, and they answered by regaining the lead.
Then McCoy came right back with another go-ahead score ó and his defense kept Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford from finding an answer. When Chris Ogbonnaya turned a play seemingly headed nowhere into a 62-yard gain, the Longhorns were headed to their biggest victory since knocking off Southern California in the January 2006 Rose Bowl, much to the delight of their half of the record crowd of 92,182 at the Cotton Bowl.
“It was a game when every time somebody made a play, the other team would get more excited,” Brown said. “It was one of the greatest football games I’ve ever seen.”
McCoy’s stewardship was terrific, the kind that will be remembered by Heisman Trophy voters. His numbers were good, too: 28-of-35 for 277 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers; he was sacked four times, but turned 14 rushes into 31 yards.
“We were able to attack, able to throw the ball,” he said. “That was awesome.”
Where Texas (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) vaults in the poll doesn’t matter because if the Longhorns survive their upcoming schedule they will probably make it to the top eventually. They’ll play host to No. 3 Missouri on Saturday, then to No. 17 Oklahoma State, followed by a road game against No. 7 Texas Tech.
Of course, they’ll go into that stretch with the confidence of knowing they’re on the inside track to a Big 12 title and perhaps the national championship. All from a team that, Brown said, “everyone has questioned … including me. I sat around and said, ‘I don’t know how good we are.’ ”
History is on their side.
The last time Texas came out of this game undefeated was 2005, the season that ended with the Rose Bowl win and national title. And the last time the Longhorns knocked off the Sooners when they were No. 1 was 1963, the year Darrell Royal won his first national title.
The ’08 club lacks a star like Vince Young. It’s just a bunch of guys like McCoy ó tough, talented and eager to keep surprising folks who thought they weren’t ready to win games like this, against a team like Oklahoma (5-1, 1-1). After all, they’d played only one team with a winning record.
“Right now, this team would be known for heart and character and toughness and playing together,” Brown said.