It wasn’t always pretty, but on a Fall afternoon in South Dallas, Oklahoma found a way to erase it’s first two-game skid since 1998. In what was not always the most visual aesthetic game, the Sooners defeated Texas in a game they had to have 53-45. Texas and Oklahoma are now both 2-2 in the conference as the Sooner keep slim hopes alive for defending their Big 12 championship. However, for Texas, they have now lost four of five against the Sooners and will need some help to get back in a race. There’s a mountain to unpack in what will be remembered as a Red River for the ages.
Red River for the Ages
Both teams seemed somewhat in disarray at times with Oklahoma in a clear rebuilding season with so many youngsters and Texas struggling to meet expectations. But, this Red River for the ages the excitement overshadowed the bad play. The two teams combined to commit 21 penalties for 207 yards, six turnovers, two missed field goals and a blocked punt. But, in the end, it was the much-maligned Oklahoma defense which made the play in the fourth overtime period for the Sooner triumph.
A Star is Born in Dallas
Spencer Rattler came into the 2020 season as the biggest recruit in the Lincoln Riley tenure in Norman. He has been met with some criticism early in his redshirt freshman season with some questionable decision making. That play continued in the first half as Rattler turned the ball over on consecutive possessions. The turnovers prompted Riley to make a change to insert backup quarterback Tanner Mordecai. The move by Riley was both surprising and bold but served as a wakeup call for young Rattler.
Rattler grew up before a Cotton Bowl crowd in the second half as he went 15 for 19 in the second half and overtime with two touchdown passes and a fourth and goal touchdown run. The positive with young kids is that they have to make some mistakes before they learn how to win. Rattler was flawless in the most pressure-packed moments of the season. The biggest takeaway for the Sooners is that if Rattler can play within himself and just run the offense, the Sooners can put up some points. It will be interesting to see how Rattler moves forward from this.
The Turnovers are Back
In a year and a half since Alex Grinch has been in Norman, the Sooners have been one of the worst teams in the country in forcing turnovers. Last season, the Sooners only force 11. Thus far in 2020, they’ve only forced three. However, they matched that today with three including two interceptions. Overall, Oklahoma played inspired and technically sound defense for the majority of the game. However, they struggled down the stretch allowing Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense to rally from 14 points down.
Oklahoma senior cornerback Tre Brown picked off Ehlinger in the first half. However, it was called back due to a holding penalty by Brown. But, in the fourth overtime, Brown was able to redeem himself. With the Sooners clinging to an eight-point lead, they needed a big play. And, after backing the Longhorns up to the Sooner 19 yard line, they got one. Ehlinger overthrew his wide receiver and Brown was there for the pick. It was a much-needed play for Grinch’s defense which was under fire following two straight losses.
The Final Word
All rivalry games are important, but this was a game that both teams needed desperately. However, most of the pressure was on the Longhorns in this game. With a fifth-year senior quarterback and 53 four and five star ranked players, they needed this one. Comparatively, the Sooners are in a pretty clear rebuild in 2020. The youth compared with the opt-outs and the suspensions have made for an atypical season in Norman. But, in a Red River for the ages, the youth won the day.
For Texas, they have a bye next week before hosting Baylor and then traveling to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State on Halloween night. After back to back losses, Texas needs to find some answers quickly to get back into the Big 12 race. Comparatively, the Sooners also have a bye week. But, to get back in the Big 12 race they will need to be road warriors. They will take up personal residence in the Lone Star state as they travel to TCU and Texas Tech.