OU's Comeback Falls Short at Cotton Bowl

John Rohde
By John Rohde
Special to SoonerSports.com
Saturday, Oct . 6 | Dallas, Texas
7 Oklahoma
19 Texas

DALLAS — Trailing by 21 points midway through the fourth quarter against arch-rival Texas on Saturday, Oklahoma clawed its way back to a tie in the AT&T Red River Showdown.

But the Longhorns were able to piece together one final drive and capped it by booting a 40-yard field goal with :09 remaining for a 48-45 victory in the Cotton Bowl.

“To get it back there in a tight game and have a chance to win the football game says a lot about what we have in the locker room, says a lot about the culture we have here at Oklahoma,” OU head coach Lincoln Riley said afterward. “Wasn’t our best performance. We know that and we’re going to own it. We don’t back away from it and we’re all a part of it, but we still found a way to give ourselves a chance to win and that’s what we do.”

Trailing 45-24 entering the fourth quarter, the No. 7-ranked Sooners (5-1 overall; 2-1 in Big 12) scored 21 unanswered points in a span of just 5:50.

OU’s closing surge began with a 54-yard drive in six plays that was capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback Kyler Murray to receiver Lee Morris. That was followed by a 67-yard touchdown run from Murray and a 57-yard drive in just three plays to tie the score at 45 with 2:38 remaining.

But after the OU defense had stiffened to force three straight punts, the No. 19-ranked Longhorns (5-1; 3-0) responded by driving 52 yards in nine plays down to the Sooners’ 23-yard line, setting up the game-winning kick from UT true freshman kicker Cameron Dicker.

“Obviously, very disappointed with the way the game ended,” Riley said. “That’s a game we expect to win. We’re going to go back and find a million things we did well and a million things we didn’t do well – that was the message to the team.”

Murray, a Heisman Trophy candidate, completed 19 of 26 passes for 304 yards, four touchdowns and one interception for a 214.4 pass efficiency rating. He also rushed for a team-high 92 yards on 11 carries (8.4 average) and one touchdown. OU receiver Marquise Brown had nine catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns.

“Obviously, I am not used to losing,” said Murray, who won three straight high school titles playing at nearby Allen High School and is considered by many to be the state’s greatest prep player in history. “It hurts and I am disappointed. It is tough because I feel if I do not turn the ball over (with one interception and one fumble), I feel it is giving them the advantage when you turn the ball over (and) we have a better chance of winning the game. This game is a four-quarter game. It’s just tough.”

The Sooners came in having won six of the last eight outings against Texas and 27 of their last 28 games in Big 12 play, including their last 10 straight. OU had trailed just 1:39 in 300 minutes of play prior to Saturday’s contest.

The OU offense gained 532 total yards and averaged 9.2 yards on 58 snaps. Despite having just 4:46 in time of possession in the final quarter, the Sooners outgained Texas 179-78.

Meanwhile, the Texas offense amassed 501 total yards, 27 first downs, scored touchdowns on all five possessions inside the red zone (20-yard line), converted 6 of 14 third downs and 2 of 2 fourth downs.

“Just not enough plays,” Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Too little, too late. I’m very disappointed in our overall performance. Our players got a little bit disjointed. We all did. [Texas was] reading what we were doing. We were trying to audible back out of it and I think our players got in between two calls at times. I thought [Texas] played more physical than we did today, and some of it is just who we have there in certain positions. That’s an area we obviously need to get better in – just our physicality across the board.”

It was the most combined points in 113 meetings between the rivals.

“We didn’t tackle well,” Riley said. “We missed too many big tackles in the open field. I didn’t think we covered great. We had a few too many guys just getting beat to the ball in a couple situations and the glaring thing was the third-and-longs that we gave up.”

Texas is now 62-46-5 all-time in the series and is the only Big 12 program with a winning record against the Sooners.

It was the first meeting since 2012 when both programs were ranked.

OU is off this week and plays at TCU on Oct. 20.