By JOHN SHINN
DALLAS — Oklahoma and Texas walked down the Cotton Bowl tunnel at 11 a.m. on Saturday. By noon, there was no doubt the 107th edition of the Red River Rivalry would be a mismatch.
That’s how long it took for the 13th-ranked Sooners to demonstrate they were going to do whatever they wanted and there wasn’t anything No. 15 Texas could do about it.
OU’s 63-21 victory didn’t even seem that close.
“We were gonna set the pace and we were gonna set the tone. We were not gonna sit around and wait for anyone to tell us what to do,” OU quarterback Landry Jones said. “We were gonna go out there and play hard, play tough and play physical football. That’s what we did today and we were able to accomplish a lot of good things.”
Jones threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Damien Williams rushed for 167 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown run. Fullback Trey Metoyer had 164 all purpose yards. Blake Bell rushed for four touchdowns in the first half.
Whatever offensive coordinator Josh Heupel drew up worked.
That might not have seemed odd given the current state of the Big 12 Conference. Offenses reign. Defense is becoming an afterthought.
The Sooners (4-1, 2-1 Big 12), though, are the exception because their defense was exceptional Saturday. It held the Longhorns to 289 total yards. Quarterback David Ash was pummeled all afternoon, finishing the day 13-for-29 for 113 yards and two interceptions.
The Longhorns added just 74 yards on the ground and most of that came in the latter half of the fourth quarter when OU’s starters were plotting how they would plant the school’s flag in the middle of the Cotton Bowl turf for a third straight year or where they wanted to position themselves for the team photo with the Golden Hat.
“We came out from play one and hit them in the mouth — bam! We just kept swinging and swinging,” said OU defensive end David King, who had the Sooners’ only sack. “It was a 15-round fight and we won 14 and a half of those rounds.”
If it had been a fight, it would have been stopped long before the 15th round. Texas (4-2, 1-2) had two first downs the entire first half. Its initial eight possessions ended with five punts, two interceptions and OU gang tackling running back Joe Bergeron in the end zone for a safety.
The Sooners ran off touchdowns on five of their first seven possessions. With a little less than four minutes left in the first half, OU led 36-2. The midway at the Texas State Fair began filling up with hopeless fans clad in burnt orange.
That kind of scenario has played out several times in the Red River Rivalry. Just last year, OU blasted Texas 55-17. The gap between the teams seemed even wider.
“It’s just unacceptable for Texas to lose like that to Oklahoma, much less anybody, especially two years in a row,” said Texas coach Mack Brown, now 6-10 against OU. “I’m disappointed for our coaches, fans and players. That’s not who we are.”
That’s debatable. Texas allowed over 31 points for the fourth straight game.
What seemed irrefutable was that the Sooners have gone from unstable to unstoppable in the span of eight days. Since losing to No. 6 Kansas State on Sept. 22, OU has thumped Texas Tech, which beat No. 4 West Virginia on Saturday, and blasted the Longhorns.
Safety Tony Jefferson, who led OU with seven tackles, said there’s an aura of confidence radiating through the OU locker room and that there was a feeling something special might happen Saturday.
“There were a bunch of guys who were ready. We had a great week of practice. Everyone knew their assignment and everything,” he said. “I knew we had a chance to blow them out.”
Texas looked more like OU’s scout team than its most bitter rival.
OU’s starters didn’t allow a point.
Through the first three quarters, the Longhorns put eight points on the scoreboard. They came on Quandre Diggs’ PAT return following the Sooners’ first touchdown and on Carington Byndum’s interception return on OU’s first drive of the second half.
It was one of the most memorable performances of Bob Stoops’ 14 Sooner seasons.
“Well, it certainly ranks up there with 63-14 (2000) and 65-13 (2003). It’s in the same ballpark,” Stoops said. “I think if we left our one defense out there I don’t think the end would have been like it was. So, it would’ve been right there with those.”
The Sooners played great defense both of those seasons.
Years later, Saturday looked familiar.