DALLAS — No. 6 Oklahoma picked up a win over No. 11 Texas, 34-27, Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.
This was the Sooners' most critical game of the season and has larger implications for the rest of 2019.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
The Sooners' path to the College Football Playoff
With the win, the Sooners' path to reach their third-straight College Football Playoff is clear: win, and they're in.
Oklahoma's schedule for the rest of the year is not the most formidable in the country. The only other Big 12 team that is ranked in the AP Top 25 is No. 22 Baylor, and even in that game the Sooners should be a significant favorite.
If Lincoln Riley's team can take care of business and win the games they're supposed to win, there's no reason why they can't end the season as one of the nation's four best teams.
The defense making huge strides of improvement
First-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch passed his first major test with the Sooners.
After looking generally solid and occasionally elite through the first five games, the matchup with Texas was a game in which Oklahoma could show its new defensive identity.
While the offense struggled to put points on the board in the first half, the defense shut down the Longhorns. Texas didn't score in the first half until a 49-yard Cameron Dicker field goal on the last play of the half.
This is a Texas offense that put up 38 points on No. 5 LSU, which has a reputation as one of the best defenses in the country. If the defense can continue to step up in ways that it hasn't in years past, the Sooners might have what it takes to win a national championship.
Jalen Hurts, Heisman contender?
Going into Saturday's game, Hurts was universally regarded as a Heisman Trophy contender, but that narrative will be altered after his performance against Texas.
Hurts struggled with keeping the ball out of the Longhorns' hands at times, particularly with two red zone turnovers in the first half. The Sooners held a 7-0 lead when both happened, and had they not happened, Oklahoma could have gained much more momentum early on.
Hurts won't have another marquee matchup to solidify his Heisman case for the rest of the year like other contenders such as LSU's Joe Burrow and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa. He may have the stats to make it to New York, but without a monster performance against an elite team, it will be hard for him to bring home the trophy.
On a larger scale, Hurts' performance could be emblematic of struggles he could see when the Sooners reach the postseason, particularly if they make the College Football Playoff. Hurts has torn up weak defenses all year, but he struggled against the Longhorns. If the Sooners want to contend for a national championship, Hurts will have to play better against high-caliber teams.