New QB, new head coach, same old story: No. 21 Texas loses heartbreaker to No. 6 Oklahoma, 55-48

Nathan Han, Sports Reporter

Texas brought a new quarterback, a new head coach and a new “All Gas, No Brakes” culture to Saturday’s Red River Showdown. But it was the same old story.

At the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the No. 21 Longhorns squandered a 38-20 halftime lead to No. 6 Oklahoma and gave up 25 straight points in the second half to lose 55-48.

The Texas offense performed a disappearing act in the second half when poor offensive line play finally caught up to the Longhorns. But down 48-41, redshirt junior quarterback Casey Thompson breathed some life into a drowning offense. 

The Longhorns gasped their last breath with a beautiful arcing 31-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Xavier Worthy to tie the game, 48-48.

With 1:23 left in the fourth quarter, the defense needed one stop to send the game into overtime. But Sooner Kennedy Brooks burned Texas the way the running back did all night: slipping through weak tackling attempts to stride easily into the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown and the win.

It was the type of back-and-forth game that has defined the Red River Rivalry. The past eight matchups between the bitter rivals all ended within one score, and Saturday was no exception.

From the first play of the game, a 75-yard touchdown screen pass to Worthy, Saturday’s game seemed like a Madden game played by two players with all the sliders turned up to 100. 

Worthy, by the way, ended the game with 261 receiving yards and two touchdowns on only nine catches. The true freshman is special.

No. 21 Texas jumped out to an early lead on the back of chunk play after chunk play in the first half. Then in the second half, No. 6 Oklahoma pummeled a depleted, gassed Texas defensive front, surging to a comeback on the legs of running back Brooks en route to 355 total rushing yards.

Even with the struggling second-half Texas offense, the Longhorns still seemed like they had eked just enough out of their defense to escape by the skin of their teeth. 

In the first half, junior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown sacked Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler for a three-and-out. He then blocked a punt, and later hit Rattler for a fumble. Texas turned the two defensive splash plays, along with senior safety B.J. Foster’s pick of Rattler, into 21 points and a dominating 38-20 halftime lead.

On three other drives, the Texas defense held strong in the red zone despite getting gashed on the ground. The Sooners kicked field goals three times when head coach Lincoln Riley could’ve gone for seven points: a fourth-and-6 play from the 22-yard line, a fourth-and-5 play from the 17-yard line, and a fourth-and-3 play from the 12-yard line.

Despite the electric play of Oklahoma freshman quarterback Caleb Williams, who came in relief for the benched Rattler, it seemed like Texas had stemmed the bleeding just enough.

But then, in the most critical moment of the afternoon, the Sooners faced a third-and-19 down 41-33 with 7:25 left in the fourth quarter. Williams stepped up in the pocket and threw up a prayer that connected for a spectacular 52-yard touchdown from Sooner wide receiver Marvin Mims.

It was just that kind of game, with big play after big play leading to extreme momentum swings for both teams. Thompson ended his game with 388 passing yards and five touchdowns on 20-34 passing. Brooks carried the rock 25 times for 217 yards and two touchdowns.

But Texas committed just one too many mistakes on Saturday.

For all of Worthy’s brilliance, the true freshman committed a football sin on the ensuing kickoff: returning the ball deep out of the end zone before fumbling at the 19-yard line to give Oklahoma a short field.

The Sooners grabbed the lead, 48-41, completing a 25-0 run after being down 41-23, and the Longhorns walked out of the Cotton Bowl with a 4-2 record, their first Big 12 loss of the season and a humbling loss to Oklahoma on what seemed like a promising start to the year. 

Same old story.