Sooners win Red River Rivalry over Longhorns 34-30


The opening six minutes were a fever pitch: interceptions, a scrambling touchdown, a special teams touchdown, a blocked punt and a fake punt to boot.


In the first matchup since 2011 where both Texas and Oklahoma were undefeated, the game aptly settled in to become one of the great renditions of the Red River Rivalry in recent memory. Dillon Gabriel led the Sooners on a 75-yard game-winning drive in the final 77 seconds of regulation.

Here are a few takeaways from No. 3 Texas’ 34-30 loss to No. 12 Oklahoma.

On Texas’ second offensive drive of the game, facing a 4th and 5 at its own 32-yard line and already trailing 7-0, the Longhorns dialed up a fake punt in the form of a direct snap to senior receiver Jordan Whittington, resulting in a 20-yard run.

Later on the same drive — one that ignited a first quarter of crazy play calls from each of the coaching staffs — wildcat quarterback Savion Red threw a pop pass to Gunnar Helm for yet another fourth down conversion and a 26-yard gain. A Quinn Ewers red zone interception would thwart the drive. But four plays later, a blocked punt by Kitan Crawford and end zone recovery by Malik Muhammad gave Texas its first points of the day.

Helm came up with another huge fourth down catch in the second quarter, a 22-yard catch-and-run on an Ewers play-action pass for the junior’s first career touchdown.

Texas wasn’t able to take the victory, but these are wrinkles to keep in mind as the Longhorns look to run the table in the regular season’s second half.

Starting center Jake Majors (ankle) had to check out in the first quarter after he was rolled up on while pass-blocking for Ewers. As the pocket collapsed behind him, a mass of bodies landed on the back of Majors’ lower legs. He was designated as having “emergency only” availability coming out for the second half. Redshirt freshman Connor Robertson entered in Majors’ stead.

Broadcast saying Texas Longhorns OL Jake Majors is in the locker room and a return seems very uncertain.

Freshman running back CJ Baxter limped off the field in the second quarter, but he would return shortly thereafter.

Ja’Tavion Sanders took a big hit from Billy Bowman Jr. while trying to pull in a Ewers pass that would flutter off the tight end’s hands and into the awaiting arms of Sooners defensive back Kendel Dolby. Sanders left the game but would later return with a 13-yard third-down catch on Texas’ opening drive of the second half.

Texas will benefit from a Week 7 bye and an opportunity to recuperate before visiting Houston on Oct. 21.

Protecting a seven-point lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, Oklahoma’s defense stymied Texas with a goal line stand for the ages. The Sooners thrice denied Jonathon Brooks on carries from the 1-yard line, before tackling Xavier Worthy inches shy on the pylon on Texas’ subsequent fourth-down gamble.

The Longhorns came into Week 6 sitting 31st in the nation with a 90.5% red zone scoring rate. On Saturday, Texas went 1-for-3 inside the 20 against the Sooners’ top-five scoring defense, giving the ball back to OU via an interception and a turnover on downs.

That’s not to say Texas’ offense wasn’t effective. The Longhorns hit 30 points for a sixth straight game to start the year, with touchdown strikes of 22 and 29 yards.

Those red zone shortcomings clearly came to roost in a four-point defeat, however. Executing in that area of the field is something Texas will need to address if the team is to resume a run towards the Big 12 title game.

It was a disastrous start for the Heisman hopeful, with Ewers starting 3-for-6 with 7 passing yards and a pair of interceptions over the Longhorns’ first two offensive drives Saturday.

The Southlake product had tripled his season-long interception total less than five minutes into the game, but he played impeccably from there on out, pulling Texas back from 10 points down to take a last-minute lead.

Ewers would finish 31-for-37 with 346 passing yards, one fumble lost, the two interceptions and the aforementioned touchdown throw to Helm. The early miscues took their toll, especially the first interception, which left Texas’ defense stranded at its own 22-yard line. Ultimately, though, the quarterback gave his team a chance to win in the closing moments.

The 2023 Big 12 Championship Game is set for Dec. 2 at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. The way Saturday turned out, it may just end up being these two teams that end up meeting there.

Oklahoma has hinted at being back as the class of the Big 12. Saturday’s win all but confirms it, and the path is now cleared for a potentially undefeated regular season and a shot at the program’s fifth CFP appearance. Standing in the Sooners’ way are UCF, Kansas, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, BYU and TCU, none ranked and all likely to be underdogs in their respective matchups.

Texas likewise faces a slate of unranked, yet capable opponents over its six remaining regular season games. Kansas State, with two Big 12 losses last year, earned its way to the conference title game, where it beat TCU.

The Longhorns may be able to absorb one more regular season loss and still make it to Arlington. But any hope for the program’s first ever CFP berth will begin with a 6-0 second half. No two-loss team has ever qualified in the event’s nine-year history.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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