Lee Morris

Associated Press

Red River Revenge: No. 5 OU moves to CFP doorstep with Big 12 title win over No. 14 Texas

20 Comments

In their 59-56 win over West Virginia last week, the Oklahoma defense gave up yards in chunks (700 of them, in fact), but made plays when they needed to be made, registering two defensive touchdowns to put the Sooners in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship.

Again on Saturday, Oklahoma got a defensive score when they needed one. This one wasn’t a touchdown but did the trick just the same, as Tre Brown sacked Sam Ehlinger in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, turning what could have been a 34-30 Texas lead into a 32-27 OU lead and putting Kyler Murray and company back on the field.

Given a chance to salt the game, the Big 12 championship, a College Football Playoff berth and perhaps the Heisman Trophy away, Murray came through with a touchdown pass at the 2-minute mark to hand the Sooners a 39-27 win.

Murray once again dazzled, completing 25-of-34 passes for 379 yards and three touchdowns while adding another 39 rushing yards, making up for the 2-turnover performance that allowed Texas to earn a 48-45 win in October.

With the SEC and Big Ten championship games looming, Oklahoma (12-1) can now argue it has beaten every team it’s played on their march to their fourth straight Big 12 title and perhaps their third Playoff trip over that span.

But before Oklahoma could make its Playoff argument, the Sooners first had to emerge with another hard-fought win.

Texas opened the game by rolling 75 yards in nine plays — going 3-of-3 on third down for 64 yards, including Ehlinger’s 16-yard touchdown run. The Longhorns appeared to have OU stopped on its first possession when Caden Sterns snared a deflected interception in the end zone, but the play was erased by Kris Boyd‘s facemask penalty on Marquise Brown, his second such foul of the drive. Still, Texas kept Oklahoma out of the end zone when Gary Johnson stuffed Trey Sermon on a 3rd-and-goal run from the 1 for a loss of two yards.

After forcing a Longhorns punt, Oklahoma again marched — methodically, needing 13 plays over more than five minutes — into the Texas red zone but the defense again held when Boyd knocked the ball away from Brown’s grasp in the end zone on third down, forcing Austin Seibert‘s second short field goal.

Given a second chance to punish an OU field goal, this time Texas capitalized. Keyed by a 23-yard completion to Collin Johnson on 4th-and-4, the ‘Horns again moved 75 yards in nine snaps, and again scored on an Ehlinger keeper, giving Texas a 14-6 lead at the 11:22 mark of the second quarter.

On its third possession of the game, Oklahoma was again held out of the end zone. Murray appeared to hit Brown for a 45-yard gain over the middle on 2nd-and-9, but review showed Texas cornerback Davante Davis jostled the ball loose before Brown could secure the catch. On third down, Davis nailed Brown on a screen pass short of the line to gain, forcing an Oklahoma punt, but the OU defense answered by forcing its second punt.

Thanks to two penalties, Oklahoma had its worst field position of the day, beginning its next drive at its own 13, but for the first time the Sooners’ offense looked like the typical OU offense, knifing the required 87 yards in six plays, two of them to CeeDee Lamb — a 46-yard gain on the first play of the drive, then a 28-yard score to pull OU within 14-13 with 5:01 left before halftime. Another key play on the drive was a missed false start on right tackle Cody Ford on a 4th-and-1 from the Texas 32, which ended in a 4-yard Sermon rush.

After another Texas punt, Oklahoma rolled 80 yards in five plays and just 41 seconds, taking its first lead on a 6-yard toss from Murray to Grant Calcaterra with 18 seconds left in the first half.

Oklahoma received the ball to open the second half and picked up where it left off, moving 75 yards in eight plays to turn a 14-6 deficit into a 27-14 lead. Needing a score to stay in the game, Texas leaned on Collin Johnson, who caught passes for 25, 21 and, finally a 27-yard touchdown to end the OU run. Johnson set a Big 12 Championship record with 177 receiving yards on eight catches.

The Texas defense, which seemed lifeless in allowing three straight touchdown drives covering 242 yards in 19 plays, rallied by sacking Murray, stuffing Sermon behind the line and then forcing a Murray throw away to avoid another sack, giving the Longhorns’ offense the ball back with a chance to re-take the lead. Over an 11-play, 64-yard drive, Texas got the touchdown it needed, a 3rd-and-goal 5-yard strike to Lil'Jordan Humphrey, but the Longhorns did not take the lead because Cameron Dicker‘s PAT was blocked, leaving the score tied at 27-27 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.

Oklahoma moved into the Texas red zone to open the fourth quarter, but again the Longhorns stiffened, forcing a 31-yard Seibert field goal that bounced off the left up right and in.

On the ensuing drive, Texas converted a 3rd-and-10 when Parnell Motley interfered with Johnson but, on a 3rd-and-9, the Sooners got a stop when Tre Norwood got away with a clear pass interference on Humphrey.

Looking for a touchdown to put the game away, Oklahoma appeared in position to have it when Lamb broke free of Davis down the sideline, but Gary Johnson raced down the field to force the ball free from behind, and Jones hopped on the loose ball at the Texas 13.

Now needing to make a play of its own, the Oklahoma defense got one when Norwood screamed in touched to nail Ehlinger for a safety, stretching the OU lead to 32-27 and putting the Sooner offense back on the field with 8:27 remaining.

Given a chance to clinch the game, the best offense in college football came through with a perfect drive. On two separate third downs, Murray found high school teammate Lee Morris — playing on the same field the pair won three high school state championships — then hit Calcaterra on a 3rd-and-10 for an 18-yard touchdown drive, capping a 11-play, 65-yard drive that put the Sooners up 39-27 with exactly two minutes remaining.

Humphrey returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but the play was called back for a penalty; it was the ‘Horns 13th flag, totaling 128 yards. Ehlinger moved Texas to the red zone, but the last-gasp drive ended when Norwood picked him off at the OU 5. Battling a bum shoulder, the sophomore completed 23-of-36 passes for 349 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while rushing a team-high 15 times for 42 yards and two scores.

No. 7 Oklahoma survives another bonkers shootout with Texas Tech

Getty Images
4 Comments

No. 7 Oklahoma travelled to Lubbock on Saturday night in what was essentially the two-year anniversary of their historic 2016 meeting. As college football aficionados would tell you, that contest between Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes — who coincidentally play each other on Sunday in the NFL — was perhaps the epitome of Big 12 football in recent years and has only grown in legend thanks to the incredible box score and numerous NCAA records it produced.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the Sooners and Red Raiders combined for yet another wild shootout late into the West Texas night that Lincoln Riley’s crew barely escaped from with a 51-46 win that kept the visitors in the thick of the Big 12 and College Football Playoff races.

It appeared that Oklahoma would be in for a fight right from the get-go as Kyler Murray tossed interceptions on the first two drives of the game (both to Vaughnte Dorsey). Tech turned both of those turnovers into touchdowns the other way and then things started ping-ponging back and forth as the two combined for scores on eight of the next nine drives.

Murray did eventually settle down and was his usual self after the early bad throws, winding up with 360 yards and three touchdowns — many on some absolute bombs down the field or off a scramble or two. Though he didn’t do enough to gain any ground on Tua Tagovailoa in the Heisman Trophy race, the first round MLB draft pick was still dazzling with the ball in his hands and added a further 100 yards rushing and one more score on the ground.

He was far from the only one to put up numbers however. Tailback Trey Sermon rushed for a career high 206 yard and three touchdowns, bullying just about every level of the Red Raiders defense. Lee Morris was a 101 yard receiver on just four catches (two of them TD’s) while five others managed at least 30 yards through the air. It was that kind of night as the offense hit 683 total yards and nearly averaged double-digits with each play they ran.

It was also a game filled with some utterly only-in-college-football-moments for Texas Tech.

Starting quarterback Alan Bowman was 21/27 in the first half for 227 yards and two touchdowns but remarkably was hit in the head by a football during halftime warmups (really) and failed to return to the game. That turned things over to backup Jett Duffey, who added another two touchdowns to go with 139 yards.

Wideout Antoine Wesley somehow didn’t find the end zone (four others did, obviously) but did haul in 12 catches for 199 yards. While it’s hard to fathom, the team only converted 3-of-13 third downs despite all that firepower.

Tech did have a chance to make things even more interesting late when they were going for two to tie things up at 42-all. In a trick play on the conversion try, former Oregon State WR (now a receiver in Lubbock) Seth Collins floated up an interception that Robert Barnes came down with, eventually weaving his way over 100 yards for two points the other way. That proved to be the deciding score even though both teams scored one more time before things were all said and done.

The victory by Oklahoma may do them no favors when it comes to the Playoff Selection Committee but Riley and company probably won’t complain about moving to 8-1 overall and remaining in first place in the Big 12. That’s not a bad spot to be in with Bedlam next week against rival Oklahoma State and a looming trip to West Virginia still out there at the end of the month.

If nothing else though, be sure to break out your calendar and circle every time the Sooners head to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. At this point, it’s become appointment viewing for all fans.

Trey Sermon injured as No. 9 Oklahoma pulls away from TCU

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
1 Comment

Kyler Murray threw four touchdown passes and No. 9 Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) got 100-yard days from two running backs to pull away from TCU (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) Saturday afternoon. Oklahoma’s 52-27 victory showed the ability Oklahoma had to make adjustments following a TCU quarterback change, but the concern after the game may fall on the status of running back Trey Sermon.

Sermon, who rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, left the game with an apparent right leg injury in the fourth quarter. The status of Sermon was unclear, but the depth at running back would take another hit if Sermon’s injury is of any significance. Rodney Anderson went down for the year early in the season with his own injury.

Kennedy Brooks, along with Sermon, had a big day on the ground against the Horned Frogs Brooks rushed for a game-high 168 yards with one touchdown in the box score. Murray was 19 of 24 for 213 yards with four touchdowns. Lee Morris caught two of those touchdown passes from Murray, and CeeDee Lamb and Carson Meier caught the others.

In the first half, with Oklahoma leading 28-7, Gary Patterson chose to make a switch at quarterback. With Shawn Robinson struggling, he inserted Michael Collins to take over. The position change seemed to work as TCU went on a run to close out the first half and cut the Oklahoma lead to 28-24. But after halftime, the TCU offense was once again controlled by Oklahoma’s defense and there was not enough big plays by KaVontae Turpin in the TCU arsenal to keep things going. Turpin had a kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter and later added a 41-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass before halftime.

The win by Oklahoma did show some areas where the Sooners can improve moving forward but the result will keep Oklahoma in striking distance in the Big 12 championship hunt, and thus still alive in the College Football Playoff race.

Oklahoma will return home next week for a game against Kansas State. TCU will be on the road to play Kansas.

TCU QB change sparks Horned Frogs in first half vs. Sooners

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It looked like Oklahoma was going to be in full control despite having some flaws to sort through in the first half against TCU in Fort Worth, but a change at quarterback seem to have ignited TCU’s offense in the first half. Oklahoma quickly saw a 28-7 advantage turn into a 28-24 lead at halftime of the Big 12 contest.

Michael Collins replaced Shawn Robinson at quarterback for TCU midway through the second quarter. After nearly throwing a pick-six on his second snap, Collins threw a higher-percentage screen pass to KaVontae Turpin and Turpin turned on the jets for a 41-yard touchdown to provide a much-needed offensive spark for the Horned Frogs. The screen pass essentially doubled TCU’s entire offensive production up to that point in the game.

Robinson had completed just three of his eight passes for 21 yards before being removed from the game. Collins has completed four of five passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns as TCU is showing life as a threat to Oklahoma.

Oklahoma scored touchdowns on each of their first four possessions in the game. Two of those scores came from outside the red zone, with Kyler Murray completing a 37-yard pass to a wide-open CeeDee Lamb for the first score of the game. A touchdown celebration by Lamb and Lee Morris led to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that backed up the ensuing kickoff, which was returned by Turpin for a quick TCU touchdown. Morris later made up for his penalty by scoring Oklahoma’s fourth touchdown of the game on a nine-yard pass. Trey Sermon picked up a short touchdown run for Oklahoma’s second touchdown, and Kennedy Brooks ripped off a 21-yard run on a 4th and 1 play for the third touchdown of the game for the Sooners.

Oklahoma will have to get back on track in the second half. The Sooners are 0-for-5 on third down (but 3-for-3 on fourth down), and Oklahoma has been flagged for eight penalties for 60 yards. Lincoln Riley has some coaching to do with TCU getting comfortable.

Red River Thriller: No. 19 Texas takes major step with win over No. 7 Oklahoma

Associated Press
2 Comments

Kyler Murray nearly led No. 7 Oklahoma back from a three touchdown, fourth quarter deficit, but Cameron Dicker‘s 40-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining allowed No. 19 Texas to hang on for a crucial 48-45 win at the Red River Showdown.

Oklahoma trailed 45-24 with 13 minutes remaining, but Oklahoma needed only 10 minutes to come back and tie the game. Needing its own rally, Texas turned to the stellar Sam Ehlinger, who guided Texas 52 crucial yards to set up Dicker’s winning kick, handing Texas (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) its first win over Oklahoma as a ranked team since Colt McCoy did so in 2009.

Ehlinger out-dueled the elder Murray, completing 24-of-35 passes for 314 yards with two touchdowns while rushing for three more — the most scores by a single player in a Red River game since Sam Bradford did so in 2008.

Murray dazzled as well, throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 92 yards and another score — but his two turnovers accounted for 10 crucial Texas points.

Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) accepted the ball to open the game and faced zero resistance on its opening drive. The Sooners moved 65 yards in six plays, a drive in which the shortest gain was the scoring play — a 4-year toss from Murray to Marquise Brown.

Texas answered by turning to its big outside threats. Ehlinger hit Lil'Jordan Humphrey for a 29-yard gain on the Longhorns’ second play, and then a 36-yard gainer to Collin Johnson one snap later. Texas notched an early equalizer with a 3-yard jump pass from Humphrey to Johnson.

On the ensuing possession, Murray made his first mistake of the day, firing an interception to Texas safety Brandon Jones, who returned the ball to the OU 45, and a personal foul staked Texas deep in Sooner territory. But the OU defense stiffened, and Texas took a 10-7 lead on a 44-yard Cameron Dicker field goal.

Oklahoma then forged the game’s second tie with a 32-yard Austin Seibert field goal on the opening play of the second quarter.

Texas rolled down the field on the ensuing possession until a holding call on center Zach Shackelford turned a 2nd-and-1 at the OU 30 into a 1st-and-20 at the 49. But a 19-yard completion on Andrew Beck gave Texas a 4th-and-1 situation, which graduate transfer running back Tre Watson converted on a 3-yard swing pass. One play later, Watson broke free on a wheel route and Ehlinger dropped in a perfect 28-yard touchdown pass, putting Texas up 17-10 with 10:18 left in the first half.

After the touchdown, the Texas defense immediately forced a three-and-out, keyed by a 10-yard sack of Murray by defensive end Charles Omenihu. Given a chance to take control of the first half, the Texas offense took advantage, moving 75 yards in eight plays — 48 of them on the ground, including a 9-yard keeper by Ehlinger to, putting Texas up 24-10 with 5:12 left before the break.

Texas had a chance to seize complete control of the game when Oklahoma went for a 4th-and-3 at the Texas 29, but Murray hit CeeDee Lamb for a 12-yard gain, then hit him again for a 5-yard touchdown four plays later, pulling the Sooners back within a touchdown with 28 seconds left in the half.

Texas opened the second half the same way it finished the first — by churning the Oklahoma defense. The Longhorns rolled 75 yards in 11 plays, scoring on another 5-yard Ehlinger keeper.

Facing its second two touchdown deficit of the game, Oklahoma seized momentum, first when Murray nailed Brown for a 77-yard touchdown, and then when its defense forced its first punt of the game — on a three-and-out, no less.

That momentum was short lived, though.

Murray fumbled the ball on Oklahoma’s next play, handing Texas the ball at the Sooners’ 23. Ehlinger hit Johnson for a 10-yard gain on a 3rd-and-4, and the quarterback covered the rest himself over two plays. A 2-yard keeper gave Ehlinger his third rushing touchdown of the game and UT its third 14-point lead of the game, at 38-24 with 6:21 left in the third quarter.

Facing another 3rd-and-3 in his own territory, Murray put another deep throw right on the money — but Lee Morris dropped it. After a punt, Texas pummeled an overmatched and exhausted defense, coasting 82 yards down the field in nine plays to push the lead to 45-24 with 56 seconds left in the third quarter. Ehlinger notched his fifth touchdown of the day, hitting Humphrey on a 15-yard strike.

Texas forced another OU punt after B.J. Foster sacked Murray on a 3rd-and-14, and Texas took the ball deep in its own end with a 21-point lead and 13:33 to kill. Oklahoma made it difficult.

Two straight holding penalties killed the Texas possession, and OU scored in six plays to pull the game within 45-31 on an 18-yard pass from Murray to Morris with 8:28 to play.

Texas killed three minutes of clock after that, but the Longhorns punted and Murray needed only one play — a bobbing and weaving 67-yard run — to pull the Sooners within 45-38 with 5:11 still to play.

Another holding penalty killed another Texas drive before it began, and all of a sudden, after being dead to rights 10 minutes of clock prior, Oklahoma took the field with a chance to tie the game at its own 43.

The Sooners had 3:34 to work with, but the needed only 56 seconds. Trey Sermon covered all 57 yards himself — 35 on a screen pass, and then 22 on a pair of runs, tying the game with 2:38 left in the game.

Texas mounted one more drive it when it needed it, though, setting up a possible new dimension in this storied rivalry: a Red River Rematch in the Big 12 Championship on Dec. 1 at AT&T Stadium.