DALLAS — For a brief moment, it seemed as if Texas had a shot.
A kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter had cut Oklahoma’s lead to 17 and had some fans reminiscing about Jordan Shipley’s touchdown return a few years ago that sparked the Longhorns to a 45-35 comeback win over the Sooners. But it wasn’t meant to be this time around.
Led by quarterback Landry Jones, No. 3 Oklahoma pounded No. 11 Texas, 55-17, at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, scoring 21 unanswered points before Fozzy Whittaker’s 100-yard scoring return and 28 unanswered after it.
“I was disappointed we didn’t live up to our side of the match,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown.
“This is one of the greatest games in college football, and our players were so excited. A lot of new coaches, they were so excited. But we didn’t live up to our side of it, so we’ve got to go back and do a better job next week.”
While Jones was busy throwing for 367 yards and three touchdowns, Texas’ alternating quarterbacks struggled.
Case McCoy lost two fumbles and David Ash was picked off twice, marking the first time either committed a turnover this season. Add to that a strip of Texas receiver Mike Davis, and the Longhorns committed five turnovers, three of which the Sooners took back for defensive touchdowns, a new school record.
“Guys got in our face and kind of got our quarterbacks on their back foot,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “They played well and took advantage of our turnovers with three turnovers. That can’t happen.”
Whittaker had a game-high 160 all-purpose yards. He, Malcolm Brown and D.J. Monroe combined for 120 yards rushing. Yet, the Longhorns managed a mere 36 yards on the ground, averaging less than a yard-per-carry thanks to the Sooners’ seven sacks, including three by senior Frank Alexander.
Oklahoma’s offense took advantage of some short fields, starting three of its first six drives in Texas territory. All together, the Sooners scored 31 points off five Longhorns turnovers. While Oklahoma’s defense played a pivotal role in its big win, Jones and the offense more than did its part as well.
Jones did most of his damage in the first half, completing 23 of 35 passes, racking up 305 of his 367 yards and throwing all three of his touchdown before halftime. His two favorite targets, Ryan Broyles, who had nine catches for 122 yards and a touchdown, and Kenny Stills, who snagged five passes and scored twice, both had big days.
“I can miss a throw every once in a while, and they’re going to make the play on it,” Jones said. “So it just takes a lot of pressure off me knowing that I have receivers that I can put the ball up to in tight coverage, and they’re going to make a play.”
Excluding Dominique Whaley’s 64-yard scoring sprint in the third quarter, Texas held Oklahoma’s rushing game in check. Not counting that long touchdown run, the Sooners ran for just 22 yards on 18 carries. But it didn’t matter. The Longhorns couldn’t contain their aerial attack.
Texas (4-1, 1-1) doesn’t have much time to lament the loss. It gets a home game this weekend, but it’s against No. 5 Oklahoma State and its vaunted passing attack, one that rivals even that of Oklahoma’s.
Senior quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has a 74.3 completion percentage and 1,592 yards passing, both of which are good — fourth-best in the nation. Junior wideout Justin Blackmon led the nation with 20 touchdown catches a year ago and has six already this season.
“We’ve got to [get] back to work,” Brown said. “We play another top-five team next week so we don’t have any time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves.”
After what happened at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, it can’t get much worse.