CeeDee Lamb, No. 6 Oklahoma top No. 11 Texas in Red River rivalry
DALLAS — Jalen Hurts tried the Golden Hat on for size and gave a half-hearted “horns down” sign in a group photo with the cheerleaders while celebrating the way Kyler Murray couldn’t in the Red River rivalry a year ago.
Now the Oklahoma quarterback will try to get the Sooners back to where Baker Mayfield and Murray took them the past two years, and where he’s been himself three times at Alabama: the College Football Playoff.
Hurts threw three touchdown passes to CeeDee Lamb after two big mistakes early, Oklahoma’s defense sacked Sam Ehlinger nine times and the No. 6 Sooners never trailed in a 34-27 victory over 11th-ranked Texas on Saturday.
“I would say I didn’t put the team in the greatest and best situation,” said Hurts, who won two semifinals as the starter for the Crimson Tide and was replaced during the game when they won the national title during the 2017 season. “Not a complete game, but a step in the right direction.”
A year after a Murray-led comeback fell short in a 48-45 loss in the Red River rivalry that led to the firing of their defensive coordinator, the Sooners harassed Ehlinger into minus-9 yards rushing.
And Oklahoma, with first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, held the quarterback with the three highest total yardage outputs for Texas against the Sooners almost 200 yards below that 387-yard average.
“Regardless of what the outside world thinks, we believe a lot in our defense,” coach Lincoln Riley said.
The Sooners (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) stayed on track for a third straight trip to the playoff and avenged last year’s loss in Cotton Bowl Stadium, which was followed by their victory in a rematch in the Big 12 championship game.
The Longhorns (4-2, 2-1) are likely relegated to a spoiler role if there’s a second consecutive Big 12 title game between the rivals. Texas gave up 511 yards, which was a season low for Oklahoma. The Sooners entered with the nation’s No. 1 offense at 644 yards per game.
“We knew how good they were,” Texas coach Tom Herman said. “We knew that their defense had improved, and we certainly saw the things that they were doing offensively.”
Lamb had 10 catches for 171 yards, tip-toeing on the sideline to stay inbounds on the 27-yarder for his final TD.
Hurts threw for 235 yards, and the nation’s leading rusher among QBs had 131 more on the ground, including a punctuating 3-yard touchdown for a 34-20 lead late in the fourth quarter. The 131 yards rushing were a stadium record for a QB and the most for an OU quarterback in the series.
Hurts had a chance to give the Sooners a big first-half lead, but he lost a fumble at the Texas 7-yard line at end of his longest run, a 27-yarder. The man with plenty of rivalry experience from facing Auburn threw an interception in the Texas end zone in the second quarter.
Ehlinger didn’t look comfortable until well into the second half, flinching from a clean pocket and underthrowing a receiver that was behind the Oklahoma defense on the first play of the third quarter after the Longhorns were held to 83 yards before halftime.
The nine sacks left Ehlinger with 23 carries for those minus-9 yards, although he scored twice on the ground while going 26 of 38 for 210 yards. Roschon Johnson had 95 yards rushing, 57 of them on a third-quarter run that set up his 4-yard score.
“They did a really good job of swarming the football,” Ehlinger said. “Obviously they recruit extremely well and have tremendously talented players. I feel like they just let them go make plays.”