Texas Fights off Sooners and Critics in 36-20 Win

Mack Brown had plenty to brag about on Saturday in a huge Texas win.
Mack Brown had plenty to brag about on Saturday.

Call this one the Sooner Stunner. In the most important game of their season so far, the unranked Texas Longhorns displayed the fighting spirit of past national championship teams and embraced the role of a 14-point underdog to upend the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners in a rousing 36-20 win. This was the team in burnt orange we had been waiting to see all season and it's hard to imagine a sweeter victory than this one. The win is the first for Texas in the Red River Rivalry since 2009.

Case McCoy had a few hiccups (namely an interception in the fourth quarter that was returned for a score) but played his part to near perfection. He finished 13-for-21 for 190 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He showed touch on the deep pass at crucial moments and was the game manager Mack Brown asked him to be. You can't ask for more from a backup quarterback in a Red River Rivalry game.

The Longhorns took the fight to the Sooners from the start, establishing a steady offensive plan of attacking the Sooners in the middle of their offense with the run. Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown hit the holes hard, each rushing for over 100 yards.

Offensive coordinator Major Applewhite deserves credit for calling one heck of a game and implementing a faster tempo the team had promised to offer this season. Greg Robinson also got a Texas defense ready and they, for the most part, shut down an Oklahoma offense many experts thought would put up points with ease. The loss of Adrian Phillips in the third quarter with a neck injury makes the feat even more impressive.

The Horns hit the Sooners with a pair of haymakers in the first half, with Chris Whaley first returning a Blake Bell interception to make it 10-3 with 2:29 left in the first quarter. Case McCoy then hooked up with Marcus Johnson for a 59-yard strike to extend the lead to 17-3.

You could sense the change in atmosphere at the Cotton Bowl by the middle of the second quarter. The confidence of the Longhorn team and their fans, the latter who appeared timid to start the game, grew with every play. The Sooners, on the other hand, seemed to shrink from the moment. The Blake Bell we saw steamroll Longhorns last season for four touchdowns was nowhere to be found. He never looked composed and threw two critical interceptions.

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An Anthony Fera 50-yard field goal would push the lead for Texas to 20-3 before a special teams breakdown put Oklahoma in position to score on a Damian Williams three-yard run, cutting the Texas lead to 10 at the half.

The Longhorns didn't let up though and pushed down the field to set up another Fera field goal. At the half, Texas headed to the locker room up 23-10 and you could see the elation on Mack Brown's face.

Texas' special teams unit made up for the first half lapse with 7:22 in the third quarter, and Daje Johnson displayed his world class speed on an 85-yard punt return to make it 29-13.

Mike Davis, who had been absent for almost the entire game, got in on the upset action with a 38-yard touchdown reception. With a 36-13 lead, the Horns were up in celebration throughout the stadium. Not even the aforementioned pick 6 by McCoy could dampen the spirits of the Longhorn faithful.

The Longhorns sit at 3-0 in the Big 12 and Mack Brown and Company can puff their chests out a little. Heck, they can puff their chests out a lot. The 2013 season now has a new look to it. Call it looking through burnt orange colored glasses but beating Oklahoma, especially by such a large margin, will do that.

James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.