STILLWATER, Okla. (AP)—As well as the Texas defense is playing, Colt McCoy needs only to be efficient for the Longhorns to dominate.
Curtis Brown and Earl Thomas returned interceptions for touchdowns, and Cody Johnson had two short TD runs as the No. 3 Longhorns routed No. 13 Oklahoma State 41-14 on Saturday night to establish themselves as the clear front-runner in the Big 12 South.
McCoy passed for 171 yards and threw his 100th career touchdown pass, and the Longhorns avoided the kind of letdown on Halloween weekend that cost them a chance to play for the Big 12 and national championships a year ago.
“That was a bad feeling, and I think (Mack Brown) kind of put it on the seniors’ shoulders and said, `Hey, this is your team. You control your destiny,” McCoy said.
“`Don’t let it happen again.”’
A year after letting an undefeated season slip away against another rising divisional rival in a 39-33 loss at Texas Tech, the same secondary that ended up as the goats in that game came through as heroes against the only other team without a loss in Big 12 play entering Saturday.
Curtis Brown and Thomas had been the ones who let Michael Crabtree slip into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in Tech’s win, and Blake Gideon dropped an interception that would have sealed the game.
Against Oklahoma State, they all came up with picks.
“This game was basically kind of like the Tech game. If we got past this same time last year, we would have had a better shot at the championship,” Curtis Brown said.
“This game, we just went in trying to grind. We played like this was the championship game and came out pretty good.”
Texas (8-0, 5-0) came in with the nation’s toughest defense against the run, then played havoc with Zac Robinson and the Oklahoma State (6-2, 3-1) passing attack. Robinson came in as the conference’s top-rated passer after breaking the Cowboys’ record for accuracy in a game last week, but threw a career-high four picks against the Longhorns.
Texas scored 28 points off of Oklahoma State’s five turnovers. Johnson scored on runs of 2 and 1 yards after takeaways.
“We want to be the best team in the country, and we want to continue to play like that,” Mack Brown said.
That left McCoy, the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, needing to do nothing spectacular in front of a Boone Pickens Stadium record crowd of 58,516.
He had a 44-yard pass to Malcolm Williams to set up Hunter Lawrence’s 40-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half. Two plays later, Thomas jumped in front of Hubert Anyiam to intercept Robinson’s pass and race 31 yards untouched into the end zone for a 34-7 lead.
Earlier, Brown scored on a 77-yard return after stepping in front of a pass intended for Dameron Fooks and racing down the OSU sideline. Defensive end Sergio Kindle toppled Robinson to eliminate the final offensive player chasing him.
It was the first time since the 2003 season opener against New Mexico State that Texas returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Future NFL players Derrick Johnson and Michael Huff did it in that game.
The Longhorns, the nation’s top scoring team, have also scored six special teams touchdowns.
“I think that makes you an unusual team. We’ve never been able to do that,” Mack Brown said of the unconventional scores. “Our offense is getting better, our defense is continuing to score and we didn’t score on special teams tonight but we usually do.”
Robinson exceeded his interception total from the first seven games of the season and doubled the amount he’d ever had in a single game. He finished 15 for 28 for 143 yards and one touchdown, a meaningless 6-yard toss to Justin Blackmon after the Longhorns already had a 41-7 advantage.
“I think that’s the best defense I’ve faced probably in my career,” Robinson said. “They have a lot of speed and they just made some plays.”
For the second straight week, McCoy was able to spend most of the fourth quarter watching freshman Garrett Gilbert run the offense in a blowout.
His head coach even had to reason with offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who wanted to go for more and telling Brown, “Well, it’s there.”
“Yeah, everything else is, too, right now,” Mack Brown said.
The blowout was a rarity in a series that had seen Texas rally from deficits of 28, 21 and 19 points win in the previous five meetings. Brown moved to 12-0 against the Cowboys.
“This the first time we’d ever come up here and had not been behind. We didn’t know what to do at halftime,” he said.
Oklahoma State was in a gambling mood early on, going for it on fourth down three times in the first half and converting twice. But the Cowboys ended up with little to show for it. Anyiam, filling in for ineligible All-America receiver Dez Bryant, dropped a potential touchdown pass on OSU’s failed fourth-down try and Dan Bailey also missed a 45-yard field goal in the first half.
Anyiam also fumbled to set up the Texas offense for its first touchdown and a 10-0 lead—and it ended up being a sign of things to come.
Kendall Hunter, the Big 12’s leading rusher last season, returned after missing five weeks with an ankle injury but had just one rush for 1 yard.
“When you turn the ball over and make that many mistakes against a team that has got that much ability, it’s very difficult to win the game,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said.