DALLAS - The first offensive snap rarely decides or provides a clue as to which team will win. In the case of the 106th Red River Rivalry, Oklahoma's opening play foreshadowed what was to come.
Sooners quarterback Landry Jones, with his team starting at its own 29-yard line, took a shotgun snap and looked to his right. His tight spiral found its way to senior receiver Ryan Broyles for a 40-yard gain. Broyles got loose from the coverage of Texas freshman Quandre Diggs.
What did this play say? One, Jones was going to be flingin' it. Two, Oklahoma was going to have an experience edge, particularly against the Longhorns' secondary. Three, Broyles was going to stack some numbers after having three mediocre games in the Cotton Bowl.
The kickoff temperature was 75 degrees but that wouldn't melt a Crimson and Cream avalanche. The top-ranked Sooners (5-0, 2-0) forced five turnovers - returning three for touchdowns - en route to a 55-17 victory over the 10th-ranked Longhorns (4-1, 1-1) Saturday. Actually, the final score could have read OU Offense 34, OU Defense 21, Texas 17. Oklahoma's three defensive touchdowns set a school record.
Jones completed 31 of 50 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns. The Longhorns' blitz-happy defense rarely rattled the junior who was making his second start in this rivalry. With Broyles, Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds roaming free, Oklahoma had more than enough offense.
"They like to isolate their corners out there and we thought we could do some things against that," said Broyles, who in his
final fling at the Golden Hat had nine catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. In three career games against Texas, Broyles had 12 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
And getting three defensive touchdowns?
"There's nothing more fun than a defensive touchdown," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "All three of those were huge plays. I'm very pleaed with the overall play and preparation. The players get it done and they made a bunch of good plays. They played, hard, smart, took care of the ball. It's a great win in this game, it's an excellent day."
This was a complete and dominating victory. Oklahoma totaled 453 yards on 71 plays; Texas ran 10 more plays and finished with 259 total yards. The Longhorns finished with 36 rushing yards on 45 attempts but the running total was skewed by eight sacks for a total of 84 negative yards.
As The Old Coach likes to say, the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores. UT's youth and inexperienced was evident. First-timers (in this game) like Diggs, Adrian Phillips and quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash made plays that emphasized their youthfulness. Diggs and Phillips got lost in coverage too often while the UT QB duo made the mistakes it had avoided in the team's first four victories.
"You can't have five turnovers and three taken back for touchdowns," said Texas coach Mack Brown, whose team is at home against Oklahoma State next Saturday. "I haven't seen that in ... a long time. You do that, you don't give yourself a chance to win. I was disappointed we didn't live up to our side of it."
McCoy fumbled on the Longhorns' first possession of each half. Oklahoma converted the first into a field goal, the second into a touchdown by David King on a 19-yard return to quickly set the second-half tone. Ash threw two interceptions - the first set up a Jones-to-Broyles touchdown that made it 20-3. OU overcame a third-and-25 when Jones found Jaz Reynolds for a 30-yard completion. Diggs was covering Reynolds.
After Texas forced Oklahoma's first punt, Ash's second interception was returned 55 yards by Demontre Hurst (No. 6 with a pick six) for a 27-3 lead.
"We wanted to go out there and prove something," said Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander, who had three sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. "We made a lot of hits on their quarterbacks. No quarterback likes to get hit. We're always told to go for turnovers and that defense wins games and championships."
The biggest negatives for Oklahoma was some spotty kickoff coverage, an indifferent running game and an early inablity to cash in red-zone opportunities. Texas had a kickoff return for a touchdown and another kickoff return TD called back because of a penalty. OU finished with 86 yards rushing by 64 came on Dominique Whaley's 64-yard scoring run. The Sooners' first two possessions reached the Texas 10 and the Texas 7 before stalling and kicking field goals.
When the inevitable happened - Oklahoma converting a touchdown from inside the Texas 10 - the Sooners had a 20-3 lead with 11:43 remaining in the second quarter. Jones found Broyles for a 5-yard TD 3:13 after connecting with Stills on a 19-yard touchdown pass. The quick 14 points gave OU its biggest first-half lead in the RRR since 2003 when it had a 37-13 edge.
The stealth statistic that underscored Oklahoma's first-half dominance: The Sooners ran 35 plays in Texas territory; UT had 32 plays in the first half.
The obvious moments that highlighted the Sooners' close-it-out second half: Whaley's 64-yard touchdown run/Usain Bolt imitation and consecutive sacks of Ash that resulted in a total of 35 lost yards.
The last two weeks, Oklahoma has been idle and won by 56 points then watched itself drop from No. 1 to No. 2 to No. 3 in the Associated Press rankings. With an early kickoff and a national television audience, the Sooners made it clear to any pollsters or other interested observers that they've got what it takes to be considered one of the nation's top teams.
"They played us like they're the best team in the country," said UT's Whittaker, who finished with 158 all-purpose yards.