Football

Red River roadmap: How Texas and Oklahoma each navigated their way to Arlington

Posted November 30th, 2018

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A look back at each game of the season for Texas (9-3, 7-2 Big 12) and Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1), which meet on Saturday in the Big 12 championship game:

Sept. 1: An opening stumble

Maryland 34, No. 23 Texas 29: Goodbye, national ranking. The Longhorns started off in a funk, then got hot, then got cold again after a 1½-hour weather delay; after the break, UT’s four drives to close the game ended with a punt, a Sam Ehlinger interception, a Tre Watson fumble and another Ehlinger pick. The Terps, meanwhile, were the mirror opposites playing at home; Maryland started hot, withstood a second-quarter push from Texas, then produced two fourth-quarter scores while taking advantage of the UT miscues. Texas 0-1

No. 7 Oklahoma 63, Florida Atlantic 14: The margin of victory was the largest the Sooners had posted in a season opener since 2008. Oklahoma owned a 42-0 lead at halftime. And it was 56-0 before FAU even scored. The highlights? Quarterback Kyler Murray, playing only the first half, attempted just 11 passes and completed nine for 209 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Star tailback Rodney Anderson carried just five times for 100 yards, with touchdowns of 30 and 65 yards. Oklahoma 1-0

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Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson’s season lasted only five quarters. He was lost for the season in OU’s second game with a knee injury — his third season-ending injury in four years, following a broken leg as a freshman and a broken neck in 2016. (Photo by 247Sports)

Sept. 8: A Sooners’ win — and loss

Texas 28, Tulsa 21: The Longhorns led 21-0 at home toward the end of the third quarter but ended up having to grit out the victory, a 13-play, 75-yard drive to go up 28-21 with 6:13 left being a real key. Ehlinger wasn’t sacked once. It was the debut of UT’s Bevo Boulevard game-day experience. Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster, both highly recruited freshmen, had interceptions. Texas 1-1

No. 6 Oklahoma 49, UCLA 21: This was an easy home win for the Sooners, but it came at a big cost. Anderson left the game with a season-ending knee injury in the first half. (He said later he did not plan to return to OU for a final season of eligibility.) Murray led the team in rushing with 69 yards, the first time since 2014 that a quarterback led the Sooners in rushing. OU’s defense had a nice day, with six sacks and a dozen tackles for losses. And Tre Brown returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest nonoffensive scoring play in the stadium’s 95-year history. Oklahoma 2-0

Sept. 15: Trumping the Trojans

Texas 37, No. 22 USC 14: After two puzzling weeks to open the season, Texas exploded for six straight scores without a USC answer. The Horns trailed 14-3 after the first quarter, but it was all Texas from there — touchdown, field goal, field goal, touchdown, blocked field goal return for a touchdown, and touchdown. All in front of a school-record home crowd of 103,507. The Trojans were held to minus-5 rushing yards. And Cameron Dicker booted his first three career field goals, including a pair of 46-yarders. Texas 2-1

No. 5 Oklahoma 37, Iowa State 27: The Sooners opened Big 12 play on the road in Ames. And they got Iowa State at a good time. The Cyclones were a month away from switching to star freshman quarterback Brock Purdy and were struggling. Murray threw for a career-high 348 yards. Marquise Brown was dazzling, with nine catches for 191 yards. All but two of his receiving yards were in the first half. It was the most yards ever recorded by an OU receiver in a half of play. Oklahoma 3-0, 1-0

Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson (9) makes a diving touchdown pass in the Longhorns’ 31-16 win over TCU at Royal-Memorial Stadium. It was Texas’ first win over the Horned Frogs since 2013. (NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Sept. 22: Working overtime

Texas 31, No. 17 TCU 16: Another week, another ranked opponent, another win. The Longhorns kicked off their Big 12 schedule with their first win over TCU since 2013. This was a 13-10 game at halftime before defense and big plays turned it around — a Brandon Jones pick and a fumble recovery, a Sterns pick returned to the 2 and a nice 31-yard diving touchdown catch by Collin Johnson. TCU committed four turnovers. Texas 3-1, 1-0

No. 5 Oklahoma 28, Army 21 (OT): Army figured out the best way to defend Oklahoma is to keep the ball away from the Sooners’ offense. The Black Knights, with their triple option, ran 87 plays to OU’s 44. They kept the ball for 44:10. One of their drives took up almost the entire fourth quarter. But Murray’s pass to CeeDee Lamb in overtime won the game. On the defensive side, Kenneth Murray had an FBS-record 28 tackles, while Curtis Bolton notched 23. The OU home crowd gave Army a standing ovation when the game ended. Oklahoma 4-0, 1-0

Sept. 29: Rout 66

No. 18 Texas 19, Kansas State 14: The Longhorns, after five straight losses at Kansas State, finally solved their Manhattan matchup mystery. What looked like a potentially troublesome gantlet of USC, TCU and Kansas State turned out to be all wins as Texas headed into its showdown with Oklahoma. Texas scored all of its points in the first half, highlighted by D’Shawn Jamison’s 90-yard punt return, the fourth-longest in school history. Texas 4-1, 2-0

No. 6 Oklahoma 66, Baylor 33: Playing in Norman, Murray tied the school record by accounting for seven touchdowns, six of them through the air. He completed 17 of 21 passes for 432 yards, and the Sooners’ 66 points tied for their second-highest ever against a Big 12 team. Brown and Lamb each had 100-yard games, while Kennedy Brooks rushed for 101 yards, a career high. But the defense started showing more symptoms of poor play. The week before, Army had gashed the Sooners with the run. This time, Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer blistered OU with 400 yards passing. Oklahoma 5-0, 2-0

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) celebrates with his teammates as he wears the Golden Hat after the Longhorns’ 48-45 win over Oklahoma on Oct. 6 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Oct. 6: Red River redemption

No. 19 Texas 48, No. 7 Oklahoma 45: The 113th installment of the Red River Rivalry was a series classic. Ehlinger and Murray had prolific days — 782 combined yards. The Longhorns controlled the game for three quarters, taking a 21-point lead into the fourth. Then the Sooners rallied for three unanswered touchdowns to tie it 45-45. Getting the ball back with 2:38 left, Ehlinger directed Texas downfield, and Dicker, the freshman kicker, nailed a 40-yard field goal with 9 seconds left to win it. It was a hold-your-breath kind of day. And there was just enough emotion and chippy behavior to set the tone for a Big 12 rematch eight weeks later. Texas 5-1, 3-0; Oklahoma 5-1, 2-1

Oct. 13: Texas’ backup plan

No. 9 Texas 23, Baylor 17: You’d think Texas would’ve left Royal-Memorial Stadium in a good mood — the Longhorns, after all, were ranked ninth in the country, recorded their fourth straight win over Baylor and held off the Bears by fending off three straight red zone passes into the end zone with 12 seconds left. But it was Shane Buechele, not Ehlinger, who guided the Horns to victory; Ehlinger lasted only 10 plays before exiting with a sprained shoulder. It left plenty of doubt moving into the off week. Texas 6-1, 4-0

No. 11 Oklahoma was off. But defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was fired. Oklahoma 5-1, 2-1

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks (26) had a breakout game in Fort Worth, rushing for 168 yards in the Sooners’ 52-27 win over TCU. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Oct. 20: A win in Fort Worth

No. 9 Oklahoma 52, TCU 27: The Sooners used an old-school running attack to mash the Horned Frogs on the road. Brooks rushed for 168 yards and Sermon ran for 110. Murray threw for three touchdowns. But the game belonged to the defense, which was led by interim coordinator Ruffin McNeill. TCU switched quarterbacks and made a game of it just before halftime, cutting the score to 28-24. But the Sooners’ defense allowed the Frogs just one second-half field goal. Oklahoma 6-1, 3-1

The seventh-ranked Longhorns were off. The eyes of Texas were on Ehlinger’s shoulder. Texas 6-1, 4-0

Oct. 27: Stunned in Stillwater

Oklahoma State 38, No. 6 Texas 35: Stunned in Stillwater, the Longhorns saw their comeback bid fall short. Ehlinger, deemed healthy enough to start, looked OK. He produced two of his best throws of the season — an over-the-shoulder pass to Andrew Beck that set up a touchdown and a perfectly placed toss to Keaontay Ingram for another score — but the defense struggled. OSU’s Tylan Wallace had a huge night (10 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns), and UT cornerback Kris Boyd, who was suspended for the first quarter, had a correspondingly disastrous one. Texas gave up 508 yards of offense. Texas 6-2, 4-1

No. 8 Oklahoma 51, Kansas State 14: The Sooners enjoyed their most complete team win in Big 12 play with a home victory over the stumbling Wildcats. The offense, which amassed 708 yards, scored on its first nine possessions. Murray threw for 352 yards and accounted for four touchdowns. He took a seat on the bench in the third quarter. Lamb had scores of 82 and 57 yards, and kicker Austin Seibert tied the NCAA career record for extra points made (274) and attempts (278). Oklahoma 7-1, 4-1

West Virginia wide receiver David Sills V (13) runs around Texas defensive back Josh Thompson (29) during the Mountaineers’ 42-41 win at Royal-Memorial Stadium. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Nov. 3: Going for the win

No. 13 West Virginia 42, No. 17 Texas 41: This one had it all — back-and-forth momentum, big plays here, big stops there, long field goals, big pass plays, a player ejection and several fourth-quarter gambles — but it came down to WVU coach Dana Holgorsen’s gutsy call to go for a two-point conversion with 16 seconds left rather than play for overtime on the road. It paid off. Will Grier’s conversion run put the Mountaineers on an inside track to reach the Big 12 title game. And it clouded Texas’ path to Arlington. Texas 6-3, 4-2

No. 7 Oklahoma 51, Texas Tech 46: OU survived a big scare in Lubbock. Quarterback Alan Bowman guided the Red Raiders to 31-28 lead at halftime. But Bowman was unable to play in the second half after doctors determined he’d suffered a collapsed lung, an aggravation of an injury he suffered against West Virginia. Murray helped Tech by throwing two interceptions, and the Red Raiders went up by 14 points. But Murray led an OU comeback by rushing for 100 yards and throwing for 360. Sermon rushed for 206 yards, and Lee Morris, with 101, became the third different Sooner to register at least 100 yards receiving in a game. Oklahoma 8-1, 5-1

Nov. 10: Holy Humphrey!

No. 19 Texas 41, Texas Tech 34: The Longhorns, reeling after back-to-back heartbreak losses, righted themselves — and helped save their season — on Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s dramatic touchdown catch in the closing seconds. It was in the same spot in Tech’s stadium where Michael Crabtree had ruined UT’s chances at the 2008 Big 12 title game with his own last-second score. Cornerback Davante Davis accounted for two big turnovers, including a goal-line interception. The win kept Texas in the hunt to make it to Arlington. Texas 7-3, 5-2

No. 6 Oklahoma 48, Oklahoma State 47: Bedlam was earlier this year. But it still was chaotic in Norman. Oklahoma State scored with 1:03 to go to cut the gap to 48-47. But Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw an incomplete pass on the two-point try. Oklahoma rolled to 702 yards. Murray threw for 349 and rushed for 66. Brooks (165) and Sermon (124) each gained 100 yards rushing. Brown scored his first touchdown in more than a month and caught eight passes for 142 yards. Cornelius threw for 504 yards. Oklahoma 9-1, 6-1

Texas defensive back B.J. Foster (25) sacks Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) during Texas’ 24-10 win at home on Nov. 17. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Nov. 17: Thank you, Okie State

No. 15 Texas 24, No. 16 Iowa State 10: As the Horns were warming up, the giant screen at DKR showed the ending of Oklahoma State’s dramatic win over West Virginia. Ehlinger played for a half but gave way to Buechele after aggravating his shoulder injury. No matter. With Iowa State running back David Montgomery suspended for the first half, Texas put up a 17-3 halftime lead that forced the Cyclones to rely on passing, not Montgomery. Of 11 drives, Iowa State had nine finish with six punts, an interception, a missed field goal and a fumble. The win meant Texas only had to beat Kansas the next week to reach the Big 12 title game. Texas 8-3, 6-2

No. 6 Oklahoma 55, Kansas 40: OU finished its home schedule 7-0 with the victory. The Sooners had their seventh straight game with at least 500 yards of total offense, gaining 566. Murray showed off with a 75-yard TD dash. And Brooks rushed for 171. Sooners linebacker Curtis Bolton scored a touchdown after blocking a punt. But it was Kansas that sported the power running game. The Sooners’ defense allowed freshman tailback Pooka Williams 252 yards on only 12 carries. Oklahoma 10-1, 7-1

Nov. 23: Season-ending shootout

No. 14 Texas 24, Kansas 17: Hello, Arlington. It wasn’t a pretty win in Lawrence, but Texas leaned on its defense to overcome an off day from Ehlinger, who looked more like his erratic 2017 self than his 2018 play-making self. It was the ninth game of the season that was decided by a touchdown or less. Texas earned a spot in the Big 12 championship game for the first time since 2009. Texas 9-3, 7-2

No. 6 Oklahoma 59, No. 13 West Virginia 56: The Sooners clinched a spot in the Big 12 title game with a road win over the Mountaineers. They needed every ounce of their offense for the victory in the third-highest scoring game in school history. The offense was impressively balanced with 364 passing yards and 304 on the ground. Brown caught 11 passes for 243 yards. It was the second-most receiving yardage in OU history. Brooks rushed for 182 yards, and Murray ran for 114. The game dropped the defense into last place in the Big 12. Grier threw for 539 yards. Gary Jennings was the top receiver with seven catches for 225. But the OU defense proved to be the difference late in the game with two scoops and scores of Mountaineers fumbles. Oklahoma 11-1, 8-1

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