Oklahoma dominated the 2016 Red River Shootout; yet, the Sooners still worked their way into a dogfight.
OU outgained Texas by nearly three yards per play (7.8 to 5.2). As a reference point, OU enjoyed a nearly identical margin earlier this year in a 59-17 win over Louisiana-Monroe (7.9 to 5.3).
That didn’t stop OU from coming up with a variety of creative ways to attempt to lose to its hated rival.
Bob Stoops called for an ill-advised long-range field goal early in the game and burned through his timeouts with reckless abandon. Mark Andrews dropped a ball into the hands of a Longhorn defensive back. Joe Mixon muffed two punts, one of which Texas recovered. He also lost a fumble in UT territory and flubbed an option pitch that would have led to a game-sealing first down. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo drew a nonsense personal foul for extracurricular squabbling with a UT offensive lineman.
All those sloppy mistakes combined with some awful early breaks to keep the outcome in doubt up until the final gun. Of course, complaining about the flaws in a victory in the biggest game of the year is college football’s ultimate first-world problem.
In many ways, this resembled OU’s trip to TCU a week earlier. Early events conspired to put the Sooners behind the eight ball. They didn’t fold.
The fact of the matter is that OU got a gritty effort from its beleaguered defense, particularly its perilously thin defensive line and secondary. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine and Co. predictably bullied UT’s D for four quarters.
For the 11th time in Stoops’ tenure, OU is taking the Golden Hat back to Norman. That feels good, no matter the warts on the win.
*Obo carried OU’s defense at times. Even though he only registered one sack, he harassed Texas QB Shane Buechele incessantly. He also stripped D’Onta Foreman early in the game, leading to OU’s first TD. When a JACK linebacker registers 11 tackles, he had a hell of a game.
*When it wasn’t Obo, cornerback Jordan Thomas was coming up big. He did give up a couple deep balls for scores, but he broke up at least twice as many downfield shots.
Would love to hear Texas offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s rationale for trying to pick on Thomas and not the other side of the field.
*Speaking of which, the combo of Michiah Quick and Jordan Parker held up well. Parker, in particular, looked solid in his first real action of the year.
He will need to keep that up with Quick now sidelined for up to eight weeks. Parrish Cobb returning from his mystery injury would help there, too.
*When you consider the MASH unit OU was working with on defense, I’d say the 40 points and 425 yards surrendered to UT are somewhat forgivable.
The offense and special teams also put them in a couple holes. The Longhorns started two drives inside OU’s 25 yard line and came away with a total of three points. That’s significant.
Clearly, though, this defense still has problems, especially in uptempo situations. That will catch up to OU again soon if they can’t sort things out quickly.
*OU’s offensive line was a disaster last year in the Cotton Bowl. As bad as the big uglies were then, they were that good this time around. Texas sacked Mayfield one time all game, and the Sooners’ QB had time in abundance to pick apart UT’s overmatched secondary.
*Mark Andrews’ mitts have officially reached the status of “problem.” I can understand some of the drops in traffic. Botching an easy look on third down? Not so much.
*It could have something to do with the quality of the defenses that he has played in the last two weeks, but Dede Westbrook clearly used the bye week to get healthy. He has looked notably better getting in and out of breaks and moving in the open field.
*For as well as Mixon has played this year, he better hope the NFL scouts misplace yesterday’s tape.
*On a tangentially related note, Lincoln Riley’s call on the third down in the fourth quarter that Mixon fumbled was brilliant. Mayfield took a false step forward that signaled an inside zone read, then ran a speed option. No. 25 had nothing but green grass in front of him if he secured the pitch.
Pretty sure Riley ganked that one from Chris Petersen, whose Washington team hammered Stanford with it last week.
*While Mixon’s play stood out early in the year, Perine offered up reminders in the last two weeks about why he is so important to OU’s offense. As college running backs go, he’s as dependable as they come.
Perine ran it 35 times against the Longhorns and still managed to pump out more than six yards per carry. Even against a putrid defense, that’s sensational.