Faced with prospect of falling to 1-5, the Texas Longhorns pulled off the biggest upset in Charlie Strong’s brief tenure.
This was a different Texas Longhorns team right from the start.
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The intensity was there. The determination and the will to win was back. A week after a 50-7 thumping at the hands of TCU, Texas took out its frustrations on the heavily-favored Oklahoma Sooners.
Texas used a smothering pass rush to keep Baker Mayfield in check for most of the game. The Sooner run game never got going thanks to the work of the Texas defensive line. This group had underperformed most of the season, but today the story line was the pressure this group put on Mayfield. He was sacked six times today, with none bigger than the one Naashon Hughes and Poona Ford collaborated on that forced Oklahoma to punt late in the fourth quarter. The Sooners never got the ball back.
The Texas run game was a big part of Texas winning. D’Onta Foreman rumbled for 81 yards in the third quarter when Texas needed to put together a drive. Foreman is quickly establishing himself as the feature back in this offense. He is hard to bring down and showed a burst of quickness on his long run.
Jonathan Gray didn’t have many pretty runs, but his 15-yard run late in the game helped kill the clock. Jerrod Heard had two third down runs on Texas’ last possession that he converted into first downs. Texas ultimately ran out the clock.
The offensive line did a good job of opening up some holes for Foreman, Gray and Heard. Oklahoma wanted to stop the run and force Heard to win the game through the air. The lineman rose to the challenge and Texas rushed for 313 yards. This was by far the best performance of the season by this group.
Heard didn’t need to win the game with his arm. He picked his spots to scramble and even though Oklahoma knew he was going to run, the Sooners still struggled to stop him.
Texas jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks to some poor Sooner tackling and the only turnover of the game. Marcus Johnson took the pitch from Heard around the left side of the line, avoided two tackles, and strolled in for the score. On the ensuing kickoff, Alex Ross – the Alex Ross who returned a kickoff for a touchdown in last year’s game – fumbled. Texas recovered with great field position. Heard moved the team down inside the Oklahoma 15-yard line before Tyrone Swoopes took over. Texas caught a break (this team was due for one) when Swoopes fumbled as he was crossing the goal line. A Sooner defender fell on the ball but could not secure it. Lorenzo Joe was Johnny on the spot and picked it up for the touchdown. It’s crazy how a play like that could have swung the momentum back to Oklahoma if the Sooners recover the ball.
The missed tackles on the Johnson touchdown and the Joe fumble recovery were plays that generally have been made against Texas this year. It was nice to see the Longhorns on the receiving end of some of those breaks.
It was a tough week for the players, coaches and fans. All the angst and frustration that spilled out from the TCU game did not carry over to the Red River Showdown. This looked like a hungry team with nothing to lose and playing lights out.
The program needed a shot in the arm. A win over Oklahoma may not cure all the ills this team has, but for a beleaguered Charlie Strong it gives him something to build upon for Kansas State.