Why Lincoln Riley 'had to' put Spencer Rattler in for a key 2-point attempt against Texas
DALLAS — It didn't look like Spencer Rattler was going to see the field again.
After fumbling the ball away and watching Texas capitalize with a touchdown to extend its lead to 35-17 with 6:41 left until halftime, Oklahoma quarterback found himself benched in favor of freshman backup Caleb Williams.
This wasn't a new feeling for Rattler, who had been briefly sidelined in the second quarter of last season's Red River Showdown before regaining his starting role after halftime.
That didn't happen on Saturday, though.
Rattler watched from the sideline as Williams led OU on an epic comeback, and the freshman backup ultimately trimmed the deficit to 41-39 with 7:25 remaining by hitting Marvin Mims for a 52-yard touchdown reception.
OU head coach Lincoln Riley didn't surprise anyone by having his team line up for a two-point conversion attempt, but he did take people by surprise when he called Rattler's number.
A few boos came down as the redshirt sophomore trotted onto the field, although they didn't last long. Rattler calmly took the snap, rolled to his right and delivered a bullet to Drake Stoops for the game-tying conversion.
"I really was expecting to put (Rattler) back in," Riley said. "I didn't know it would come on maybe the single most important play of the game. But he handled it like a pro."
Rattler's two-point toss proved to be his only second-half appearance as Williams led OU to a 55-48 victory, but it's a play that came in a crucial moment.
"I had to put Spencer in, back in the most important play of the game," Riley said. "The guts he had to go in there and perform for his team... no matter what happened for him personally. That's him."
Rattler showed poise and professionalism in his brief return to the field on Saturday, but Riley hasn't confirmed if the clutch moment is enough to give him back his starting spot for next week's home game against TCU.
The Sooners are set to face the Horned Frogs at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Norman.
"No, I'm not ready," Riley said when asked if he's ready to name a starting quarterback for the game.
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Marvin Mims' incredible catch
Williams threw up a prayer.
Oklahoma found itself with its back against the wall for just about all of Saturday's game against Texas. It only took 113 seconds for the Longhorns to jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Sooners slowly chipped away at what peaked at a 21-point deficit.
Now down 41-33 with 7:37 left in the game, Williams took a snap from his own 48-yard line and scanned the field.
Texas' T'Vondre Sweat put pressure on the freshman quarterback, but Williams broke away and heaved the ball downfield before a pair of burnt orange jerseys could get to him.
The ball sailed in the direction of Mims, who was jostling for position with Texas' Darion Dunn while in a full-on sprint toward the end zone.
The pigskin projectile finally came crashing down, and Mims leaped through the air for a two-handed snag.
"To be honest, I just ran the route," Mims said. "I'm running, I see Caleb (Williams) stepping up in the pocket, we kind of made eye contact and he lets that thing go. I had no idea where I was on the field."
Mims managed to catch a glimpse of the right pylon from the corner of his eye before crashing onto the crimson grass.
He immediately popped back up and held his hands in the air. The football was still stuck like glue to his right hand as he waited for the referee to declare if it was a touchdown or not.
Brayden Willis came sprinting toward him before that could happen, though. The senior halfback shouted to Mims that it was in fact a touchdown, and celebration from the two players ensued as the referee finally confirmed it.
"Crazy play," Mims said. "Special play."
Mims' miraculous 52-yard touchdown reception helped the Sooners tie the game at 41 apiece, and they went on to earn a 55-48 win.
Mims finished with 136 receiving yards and two touchdowns on five receptions. The sophomore is the only OU wideout to record at least 100 receiving yards in a game this season, and he has now done so twice in 2021.
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DeMarvin Overshown refused to be overshadowed.
The Texas linebacker was a thorn in OU's side throughout the first half of Saturday's contest, and he set the tone on the first defensive stand by going untouched for a sack on Rattler.
The takedown set up a punt for the Sooners, and that's when Overshown struck again. This time the senior Longhorn emerged from a cluster of white jerseys and blocked Michael Turk's punt.
Texas recovered the live ball at OU's 2-yard line and scored two plays later to make it a 14-0 contest with 13:07 on the clock.
But Overshown still wasn't finished.
With Texas ahead 28-17 in the second quarter, Rattler coughed up the ball and watched helplessly as Overshown swooped in for the fumble recovery. The turnover set up another Longhorn touchdown to extend the lead to 35-17.
Despite the fiery start from Overshown and the Texas defense, OU still managed to revive its offense thanks in part to the play of Williams.
The freshman quarterback replaced Rattler in the second quarter and helped the Sooners erase an 18-point halftime deficit to earn a 55-48 win.
"We were poised," Riley said. "I think we all felt like our confidence didn't change and it didn't get rocked by the fact that we didn't play well early. The team we were playing made some plays against us early, and we hung in there."
After missing last week's contest against Kansas State due to an undisclosed injury, Delarrin Turner-Yell made a brief return to the field on Saturday. The senior safety came out for one play during OU's first defensive stand before being taken out, and he was seen without pads on the sideline in the second half.
Woodi Washington missed his fourth consecutive game. Riley said on Sept. 21 that the redshirt sophomore cornerback will miss "significant time" due to an undisclosed injury, although he is expected to be back at some point this season,
Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Jalen Redmond (knee), redshirt sophomore defensive back Jeremiah Criddell and freshman wide receiver Cody Jackson (medical issue) also continue to miss time. All three players last saw game action against Nebraska on Sept. 18.
Isaiah Coe did not suit up against Texas either. The junior defensive lineman suffered an undisclosed injury in the fourth quarter of last week's road win over Kansas State and did not return.