The 2015 edition of the Red River Shootout reminded me of games gone by. This time, though, the tables were turned.
Texas played much like the teams that Bob Stoops brought to the Cotton Bowl in the early years of his tenure at Oklahoma. The Longhorns clearly had scouted the Sooners from top to bottom. They were resourceful when it came to scheming up ways to move the ball offensively, and they pressured the hell out of OU's offense. Most importantly, Texas won the battles in the Sooners in the trenches, especially versus OU's offensive line.
Texas' celebration with second-year head coach Charlie Strong after the game told the story: This game meant a hell of a lot to the Longhorns; it showed up in how they prepared and played.
For three years running, UT has played with with an edge clearly lacking on the Sooner sidelines. It makes you wonder if Stoops can still get those kinds of performances out of his team – at least when it comes to the most important game on the schedule every year.
*OU's offensive line was the worst individual unit on the field Saturday, and it wasn't particularly close. In many ways, Baker Mayfield's scrambling had masked the extent of the group's struggles through the first four games of the season, but they came back to bite OU badly on Saturday. Blown assignments, penalties and flat-out getting whipped prevented the O from establishing any rhythm throughout the day.
*Even though it seemed obvious in the first quarter that the OL couldn't get UT blocked, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley never really adjusted to the hand he was dealt.
*Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford undoubtedly had more than enough on film after four games to scheme to take advantage of the deficiencies that showed up in the o-line during that stretch. It does make you wonder about the quality of the Sooners' self-scouting program.
*I don't share most of the criticisms of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops that I've seen floating around the peanut gallery in the last 24 hours. The tackling stunk at times, and the evasiveness after the game when talking about prepping for Texas' version of the Belldozer raised a red flag. Even so, holding an opponent to 5.3 yards per play should be way more than enough to get a win. (Keep in mind that Texas got a touchdown off of a short field after Alex Ross fumbled a kickoff return.)
*Baker Mayfield didn't have a great day, but I'd attribute that to the fact that he was under fire from oncoming rushers all game. All in all, he continues to impress me.
*Devante Bond's absence at outside linebacker clearly hurt the D, as the 'Horns appeared to attack fill-in P.L. Lindley.
*No one wants to hear it right now, but don't discount the likelihood that Texas is trending up sharply. Strong is playing a ton of youngsters this season, and the 'Horns now have five games under their belts with Jay Norvell running the offense. UT had a ridiculously front-loaded schedule that would test even a veteran squad.
*It almost goes without saying, but how OU responds next week at Kansas State will go a long way towards determining how the Sooners finish out the year. OU has fallen into fair share of death spirals after disappointing losses under Stoops.