Injuries. Penalties. Bad bounces. Unlucky breaks.
In the previous five editions of the Red River Shootout, good fortune was nowhere to be found for the Oklahoma Sooners. As the Texas Longhorns ran off four wins in five games against OU, all the karma in college football’s nastiest rivalry clearly swung over to the guys wearing burnt orange.
Yet, when the ball slid across the inbounds line late in the fourth quarter following a Landry Jones fumble deep in OU territory, it became clear that fate was again smiling on the Sooners. Lady Luck rode off with the Crimson and Crimson minutes later in a 28-20 win.
Texas definitely did its fair share hand to OU this game with a number of ill-timed penalties. Aaron Williams’ fumbled punt return in the fourth quarter didn’t hurt the Sooners’ chances, either. (Williams’ muff may live on forever in Red River punting lore with Nathan Vasher’s ill-advised fair catch in 2001.)
Much like a week ago against Cincinnati, Texas’ late-game boners certainly contributed to its own demise. This was not a case of Texas losing more than OU winning, however.
OU made its own luck.
The Sooners came out smoking Saturday, racing to a lead that was not to be relinquished. Bob Stoops and his staff clearly had their team better prepared than their counterparts on the opposing sidelines (who were decked out in bizarre boom-boom club gear). Oft-maligned quarterback Landry Jones made all the right throws early on. DeMarco Murray ran with the kind of confidence that we seem to see so infrequently these days.
Most importantly, Texas presented OU with golden opportunities, such as two drive-saving penalties on the opening drive; the Sooners cashed in.
Meanwhile, time and again, Texas had chances to get back in the game in the second half. But, the young ‘Horns cracked under the pressure of the intense rivalry, culminating in freshman defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat’s numbskulled personal foul to set up OU’s game-sealing touchdown.
Could OU have done a better job of finishing off UT earlier in the game? Absolutely, and that may not sit well with the most bloodthirsty members of Sooner Nation.
However, per the norm this year, OU is pulling out hard-fought victories and keeping its composure in tight games. To do that in the Cotton Bowl in October represents a big step forward for a program that may have been lacking lately in the “whatever it takes” department.