Oklahoma (2-2, 1-2 Big 12) narrowly edged No. 22 Texas (2-2, 1-2 Big 12), 53-45, in quadruple overtime in the Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas on Saturday.
Here are five takeaways from the Sooners’ win:
Spencer Rattler shakes rough start, saves Sooners
Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler was 8 of 13 on completions for 74 yards and a touchdown, but had also yielded a fumble and an interception when he left the game in the second quarter with what was initially reported to be an injury.
It was later said Rattler had been benched for backup Tanner Mordecai, but Sooner head coach Lincoln Riley still trotted his highly-touted QB1 back out for the second half.
After a brief rest, Rattler was considerably more poised in the second half. He steered the Oklahoma offense to a win while finishing with 23 total completions on 35 attempts for 209 yards.
Rattler’s game-tying touchdown pass to sophomore H-back Austin Stogner on third and goal showed his self-confidence when under pressure, and his dive into the end zone in the second overtime to give OU a 45-38 lead also displayed the ice water in his veins.
After Texas tied the score and both teams missed potential game-winning field goals, Rattler found redshirt sophomore receiver Drake Stoops in the end zone for a touchdown and then hit sophomore receiver Theo Wease for a two-point conversion to seal the deal.
Defense gets three turnovers, outlasts Longhorns
A fumble recovery by redshirt junior defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas off redshirt sophomore linebacker Brian Asamoah’s strip during the first quarter was a key momentum shifter for the Sooners following a poor offensive start.
Later, a fourth quarter interception by redshirt freshman safety Woodi Washington added another bright spot. OU’s defense snagged two takeaways for the first time in 2020.
Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s Speed D faltered in the fourth quarter once again, as Texas tied the game with a last-ditch touchdown to send the battle to overtime.
Alex Grinch’s shaky unit was exploited again in the first extra period, as Texas senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger galloped to the end zone to give the Longhorns their first lead of the game. Double overtime wasn’t kind to the defense either, as Ehlinger sprinted 25 yards to the paint between pylons once again to knot the score.
But Grinch’s group got a stop when they needed it in the third overtime, pulling Ehlinger to the ground on third down before a blocked field goal gave the Sooners the high ground.
Then it was senior cornerback Tre Brown who put the finishing touches on the day during the fourth overtime, intercepting Ehlinger’s errant pass in the end zone to put the Longhorns away.
Special teams shine
OU’s special teams unit had been abysmal through its first two conference games, having a punt blocked in the Sooners’ loss to Kansas State and surrendering an 85-yard kickoff return against Iowa State last weekend.
Saturday, the group came to play, as sophomore linebacker David Ugwoegbu blocked a punt resulting in a Marcus Major touchdown run five plays later, while freshman receiver Marvin Mims’ 36-yard punt return set up a third quarter T.J. Pledger score for the Sooners.
The group’s effort in the third overtime took the cake though. Junior defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey blocked Texas kicker Cameron Dicker’s field goal to give Oklahoma a chance to win it before redshirt sophomore kicker Gabe Brkic’s game-clincher went wayward to keep the Longhorns alive.
Running backs carry load
Aside from the junior Pledger’s second quarter fumble, Oklahoma’s backfield tandem of Pledger and the redshirt freshman Major ran wild in the Sooner victory.
Pledger carried 22 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns while Major picked up 43 yards and another score on 12 carries, as OU’s ground game churned smoothly despite the absence of freshman Seth McGowan.
As OU awaits the return of senior Rhamondre Stevenson from suspension, a strong outing from its other ball-carriers was exactly what the doctor prescribed for the Sooners early-season rushing woes.
Bye refreshing, TCU looms
Following a timely bye during this coming week, the Sooners are set to face the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas after narrowly escaping their purple-clad foe with a 28-24 home win in 2019.
TCU already toppled Texas just a week ago as sophomore quarterback Max Duggan continues to improve after an up-and-down freshman season. To date, he’s thrown for 472 yards and three touchdowns on a 73.5 completion percentage while also rushing for 89 yards and two scores in 2020.
While OU wasn’t hurting terribly for roster depth against Texas, the Sooners will need to double down on their COVID-19 mitigation efforts as they prepare to trade blows with a TCU offense that’s notched no less than 33 points in each of its first two games.
The kickoff time and TV coverage at Amon G. Carter Stadium for the Oct. 24 contest has yet to be announced.