NCF Nation: Dallas 0807

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

 
 AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
 Texas coach Mack Brown celebrates with Texas defensive tackle Roy Miller (99) and others after beating No. 1 Oklahoma, 45-35, Saturday.

DALLAS - Will Muschamp might not save the statistical sheet of Texas' victory over Oklahoma for posterity.

Even after being gashed for 435 total yards and five touchdown passes in a 45-35 victory over the Sooners, the Texas defensive coordinator couldn't really complain.

"It's a win," Muschamp said with a big smile as he celebrated his team's strong second-half performance. "I've never had a bad one. Not once in my life. Obviously, we're going to look at things and see if they were technically correct. And then, we'll build on the positives."

When Muschamp looks at the films, he'll see a lot of things to celebrate in the Longhorns' strong performance down the stretch. After struggling to pressure Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford for most of the game, the Texas pass rush rose up during the fourth quarter.

The increased heat came mainly because strong play from Texas' defensive line. Texas coach Mack Brown also credited the play of his secondary, consisting of redshirt freshman safety Earl Thomas, freshman Blake Gideon and sophomore Chykie Brown.

"Our defense has done a great job this year of changing things and they covered well today," Brown said. "I did think our guys kept fighting. Will did a good job of showing pressure and backing out and making Sam hold the ball some."

Bradford directed a fourth-quarter comeback last season, leading the Sooners to a victory as a freshman/ He appeared to have the Sooners in place for another as he trailed 30-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

But he couldn't duplicate his magic on Saturday -- mainly because he was scrambling for his life.

Texas defensive end Brian Orkapo seemed to be taking up residence in the Sooner backfield as he repeatedly beat offensive tackle Phil Loadholt.

"We got some pressure going and we did a tremendous job on defense," said Orakpo. "We got some hits on him and made Bradford throw the ball out of bounds. It was a like a street fight out there."

(Read full post)

Longhorns stun No. 1 Sooners

October, 11, 2008
10/11/08
3:47
PM ET
 
 Tim Heitman/US Presswire
 Colt McCoy led Texas to its biggest victory since the 2006 Rose Bowl win.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

DALLAS -- Offenses dominated the Red River Rivalry for three quarters. Ultimately, the difference in Texas' 45-35 victory over Oklahoma came on several big defensive stops and the return of the Longhorns' running game late in the game.

You want drama? The Cotton Bowl was the place to be, in a game that had more twists and turns than any in the 105-game history of the series as the Longhorns twice overcame double-digit deficits.

The Texas running game accounted for the final 64 yards of the game-clinching scoring drive, including a 62-yard dash by Chris Ogbonnaya and a 2-yard plunge by Cody Johnson, his third touchdown in three carries.

This one was unquestionably an instant classic and will be savored or moped over by fans for many years.

It will likely send the No. 5 Longhorns zooming up the national polls and sets up another huge game with Missouri, provided the Tigers beat Oklahoma State tonight.

The Longhorns overcame a career game by Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford who passed for 387 yards and matched his career high with five touchdown passes. But in the end, it wasn't enough.

And Colt McCoy had the kind of game that Heisman voters love. He passed for 277 yards and a touchdown, but ultimately led his team to its biggest victory since winning the national championship over No. 1 USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl. Before Saturday, that was the last time Texas had beaten the No. 1 team in the country.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

DALLAS -- Texas has grabbed the momentum and the lead. We'll now see if top-ranked Oklahoma can battle from behind for the first time this season.

The Longhorns have grabbed a 30-28 lead after three quarters, charging back after the Sooners had jumped ahead by eight on their first possession of the second half.

The Sooners appeared to have lost their composure after critical penalties and Oklahoma linebacker Lamont Robinson's interception in the Texas end zone was negated when the ball was knocked out by the ground. It appeared he had come up with the turnover.

Hunter Lawrence's 28-yard field goal on the next play gave the Longhorns their first lead.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

DALLAS -- The happiest man at the Cotton Bowl might be Texas coach Mack Brown. After producing only one big defensive play and being blistered for 227 yards on defense, the Longhorns left the field at the half trailing by just one point.

Texas' offense started asserting itself at the end of the half, getting a 33-yard field goal by Hunter Lawrence on the last play of the half to trim Oklahoma's lead to 21-20.

The Longhorns struggled to get pressure on Sam Bradford for most of the half until a blindside blitz by Sergio Kindle led to a diving interception by Earl Thomas on Oklahoma's final offensive play. It was one of only three times that Bradford was hit in the pocket in the first half.

If Will Muschamp can keep cooking up that kind of pressure, the Longhorns will have a great chance to win the game.

It was one of the few mistakes by Bradford, who completed 15 of 18 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. His second touchdown pass enabled him to break a record for most touchdowns in a freshman and sophomore season set by Rex Grossman.

Neither team has been able to run the ball effectively. I get the idea that neither quarterback can keep up his torrid pace and whichever team can start running the ball enough to keep the opponent honest will win the game.

The Sooners' struggles covering kickoffs bit them again when Jordan Shipley ran back a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. It was the second kick return brought back for a score against the Sooners this season and the third time an opponent has gashed them for a kickoff return of at least 75 yards this season.

And three penalties boosted the Longhorns' final two scoring drives. Back-to-back offsides penalties extended one drive. And a 15-yard late hit by Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis helped extend Texas' final drive.

Sooners take early 7-3 lead

October, 11, 2008
10/11/08
1:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

DALLAS -- Oklahoma took advantage of Sam Bradford's savvy and a lack of defensive pressure from Texas to get on the scoreboard on their first possession.

The Sooners appeared focused scoring on their first drive for the fifth straight game. They have a 7-3 lead after the first quarter.

Bradford sliced  the Longhorns apart with surgical precision on the opening drive, helped by Texas' lack of pressure. And Oklahoma ran several misdirection plays that capitalized on Texas' initial speed breaking to the ball.

The Longhorns answered with a scoring drive on their first drive, but it was what Texas didn't do that was noticeable. Other than a 7-yard run by Chris Ogbonnaya, Colt McCoy was responsible for everything. The Longhorns aren't going to be able to beat Oklahoma with McCoy as a one-man show. He might have better statistics so far, but he's no Vince Young.

After the initial flurry, the defenses have settled in to control the game. So much for the initial offensive fireworks.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

DALLAS -- It's hard to believe that the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry could get any bigger.

But first glance inside the renovated Cotton Bowl gives the stadium an even larger big-game feeling. A new facade outside has given the storied old stadium a completely different look. The stadium is now enclosed, making it feel like a real football stadium. Something tells me it's going to rock once the spectators start arriving. A record crowd of more than 92,000 is expected for today's game.

I only saw one scuffle between Texas and Oklahoma fans and it was relatively tame compared to many of the donnybrooks I've seen on the midway over the years. Of course, it's still early and they haven't started selling beer yet. There's hardly a line at the corny dog stands, either.

Here are some of the things I'll be watching for, once the game starts.

  • Whether Texas can withstand an early rush by Oklahoma's potent offense. The Sooners have outscored opponents 103-3 in the first half and will be gunning for a quick knockout. I look for Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to cook up some exotic blitz packages to try to confuse Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and protect Texas' young secondary.
  • Can Texas take advantage of its edge in special teams? The Sooners have been susceptible to big kickoff returns, yielding a 97-yarder for a score against Cincinnati and a 75-yard return against TCU. Texas will throw better athletes at Oklahoma than either of those teams. And it will also be interesting to watch Oklahoma redshirt freshman Jimmy Stevens, who has attempted only one field goal in his college career -- a 36-yarder against Cincinnati three games ago. How will he handle a clutch situation when the game is on the line?
  • How much Fozzy Whittaker's expected return means to Texas' offense. Whittaker is back and as healthy as he's been all season. He was counted to become Texas' breakaway threat before battling injuries earlier this season. If he's close to being at 100 percent, Colt McCoy's life just got a lot easier.
  • Who establishes the running game? Here's a statistic to chew on before watching the game: In the last 10 years of the rivalry, the team that has gained more rushing yards has won nine of them. It was even in 2006 when both teams produced 124 yards. So it will be imperative to establish the running game and establish play-action passes for either McCoy or Bradford. Oklahoma has better talent, but DeMarco Murray has been slow to return to form after his knee injury late last season.
  • Can Oklahoma protect Bradford? The battle between Oklahoma's offensive line and Texas' defensive front will determine the game. Look for Muschamp to throw a variety of blitzes to try to get around the mammoth Oklahoma front. But if Bradford remains upright he should be able to blister Texas' young secondary.

Injuries: Both teams are relatively healthy. Whittaker's return is big for Texas, looking for some balance to keep from using McCoy so much as a running threat. Oklahoma defensive tackles DeMarcus Granger (foot) and Gerald McCoy (toe) and defensive end Frank Alexander (stab wound on arm) all are expected to play and add depth to the Sooners' defensive front. Center Jon Cooper (knee) is expected to play, although the status of Oklahoma backup tackle Branndon Braxton, who missed the Baylor game with an undisclosed injury, is questionable.

Weather: It's expected to be a hot, muggy day with temperatures in the 80s at kickoff. There's a 20 percent chance of rain, but any precipitation should blow through after the game is over.

SPONSORED HEADLINES