No. 19 Texas squandered a 21-point fourth-quarter lead but somehow held on to beat No. 7 Oklahoma 48-45 on a late field goal by Cameron Dicker.
The game-winning drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on the second play that netted Texas 15 yards. After an 18-yard completion from Sam Ehlinger to Devin Duvernay, the yards were incremental from there and Dicker made a 40-yard field goal with nine seconds to go.
Oklahoma stormed back in the fourth quarter and scored three touchdowns on just 13 plays. Those drives were spurred by defensive stops for Oklahoma — massive achievements considering that Oklahoma forced Texas’ first punt of the game over six minutes into the third quarter.
The game-tying touchdown came on a seven-yard run by Trey Sermon with 2:38 to go, a score that set up Dicker’s winning kick.
That touchdown drive took 56 seconds and three plays, an eternity considering the previous score. After Oklahoma forced Texas to punt with 5:22 left and the score 45-31, Kyler Murray took OU’s first snap of the possession and ran 67 yards for a touchdown. After Murray’s score, it was fair to wonder if the Texas collapse was in motion.
But the Longhorns were resilient, much like they had been all day. Oklahoma’s only lead happened at 7-0 early in the game.
Sam Ehlinger has his best game
Texas’ first four touchdown drives were all 75 yards in length, a stark contrast to last week’s game against Kansas State. The Longhorn offense looked out of sync a week ago. But that’s easy to overlook now after the performance on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck missed that game because he was hospitalized for an infection. He called plays on Saturday as Ehlinger accounted for five total touchdowns.
Ehlinger finished 24-of-35 passing for 314 yards and two touchdowns passing. He also had 19 carries for 72 yards and three rushing touchdowns. He went toe-to-toe with Murray on the stat sheet. Oklahoma’s Heisman contender had 92 yards rushing and that score and was 19-of-26 passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns.
Those are pretty comparable numbers. Except when it comes to turnovers. Ehlinger didn’t commit a turnover while Murray had two unforced errors. He threw a first-half interception when he simply didn’t see a Texas safety and fumbled when he tried to use the ball to balance himself as he scrambled away from Texas’ pass rush.
Kyler Murray fumbled while trying to hold himself up with the football pic.twitter.com/hXV9kZoA9E
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) October 6, 2018
At 5-1 and 3-0 in the Big 12, Texas is now the favorite for the Big 12 title alongside No. 9 West Virginia, who beat Kansas on Saturday. They’re the only two undefeated teams left in the conference and the Mountaineers are the conference’s only undefeated team overall.
Oklahoma defense is an issue … again
Oklahoma’s defense undoubtedly gave Sooner fans flashbacks to the Rose Bowl a year ago. The Oklahoma defense was shredded by Georgia in the second half of the College Football Playoff semifinal a year ago.
The Sooners led that game 31-14 in the second quarter before Georgia took a 38-31 lead and the game see-sawed until Georgia won in overtime. The Bulldogs had 527 yards of offense in that game. Texas had 501 yards on Saturday. And, as we said before, Oklahoma didn’t force a punt until the third quarter.
The Sooner offense is potentially the best in the country with Murray and wide receivers Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb. But the lesson we learned at the end of the 2017 season carries over into 2018. It’s hard to trust Oklahoma as a legitimate national title threat without some serious defensive improvement.
That’s why the Sooners are going to be outside the top 10 in Sunday’s AP poll. The path to the College Football Playoff is still there — Oklahoma still has to play Oklahoma State and West Virginia. An undefeated final six games of the season means a trip to the Big 12 championship game. It’s doable. If the defense can be average.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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