Over the past few weeks, the Oklahoma Sooners have kept winning football games, but have seen their standing in the AP college football poll drop to #3, behind LSU and Alabama. They still received seven first place votes, but they still weren’t getting much respect for the voters, and they came into Saturday’s Red River Shootout with the Texas Longhorns looking to make a statement.
And make a statement they did.
Landry Jones had a fantastic game, throwing for three touchdowns, and the Sooners defense scored three touchdowns of their own as the Sooners destroyed the Longhorns 55-17 at the Cotton Bowl. Ryan Broyles caught nine passes for 122 yards and a TD for Oklahoma, and stud WR Kenny Stills caught two touchdowns of his own in the rout victory.
Even with all the positives for the Sooners in this game, there surprisingly was some bad news coming out of the contest. The offense was stellar for most of the game, but their running game was absolutely atrocious against a Texas defense that couldn’t seem to stop anything. When you take out Dominique Whaley’s 64 yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Oklahoma only rushed for 24 yards in a game they ended up winning by 38 points, a bad sign for a club that has national championship aspirations. If they are going to beat more veteran teams than the group of youngsters Texas threw at them, they are going to have to be able to mix the pass and run better. If they can’t, then Jones won’t have any time to throw because teams will simply key on the pass.
The reason that the Sooners were able to pass the ball with such impunity was the poor play by Texas’ safeties and linebackers in the game. Oklahoma made a living throughout the contest in throwing the ball over the middle on play-action passes and short screens, and Texas simply was not able to adjust. Even when Oklahoma went to a straight-up passing game, Texas still suffered because they were unable to get any support in covering either Stills or Broyles. Too often they would go out in single coverage, and it was a simple matter of pitch and catch for Jones to those two.
Even Oklahoma’s one good running play was a complete breakdown by the Longhorn defense. Whaley ran a simple counter to the right, and poor tackling and bad positioning combined to allow him to take it all the way to the house. Texas did have some good moments on defense, especially in stopping the Sooners from scoring TD’s on their first two trips to the red zone, but overall it was a pitiful game for a unit that has looked solid a lot this season.
As for the Longhorn offense, it didn’t fare much better. Case McCoy and David Ash both played a significant number of snaps at quarterback, but they were unable to be consistently effective. They both turned the ball over several times, as the Longhorns ended up giving up two interceptions and three fumbles. Oklahoma made the Longhorns pay for their mistakes, scoring on three of them, and in doing so really put the game out of reach. Texas’ five turnovers matched the five that they had committed in the first four games of the season.
The only two bright spots for the Longhorns were the performances of two of their more athletic players. Jaxon Shipley, whose brother Jordan played for Texas and is currently a receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, had nine catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. Foswhitt Whittaker also displayed some tremendous speed on his only kick return of the game, taking the ball from three yards deep in the end zone all the way to the house for a touchdown. Naturally, the Sooners’ two-minute drill offense went right to work and got the points back in a hurry, but it was still a bright spot on a dark day for Texas.
The Sooners will next head out on the road next Saturday when they battle the Kansas Jayhawks, and the Longhorns will lick their wounds and will host the ludicrously efficient Oklahoma State Cowboys’ offense in Austin next week.