OU vs. Texas football: Five takeaways as Caleb Williams, Sooners rally past Longhorns

Ryan Aber
Oklahoman

DALLAS — There was a wild comeback, quarterback controversy that doesn’t look like much controversy now, a hold-your breath late touchdown to put the game in doubt once again and an honest-to-goodness field storming.

Wildness is the norm in the Red River Showdown, but there was enough wildness for a decade or more in OU’s wild 55-48 win over Texas in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday.

Kennedy Brooks put a cap on the madness with a 33-yard touchdown run, crossing into the end zone with three seconds remaining to help keep the Sooners undefeated.

Each of OU’s five wins over Football Bowl Subdivision have been decided by one possession, keeping up the Sooners’ skin-of-their-teeth string to start the season.

There’s plenty to unpack with this one but here are five quick takeaways:

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Kennedy Brooks takes over

When Caleb Williams took over for Spencer Rattler for good midway through the second quarter, Lincoln Riley went a bit conservative with the play-calling, mostly running the ball and keeping the freshman quarterback out of tough situations.

That opened the door for Kennedy Brooks to shine.

And while it took awhile for Brooks to get going, once he did, he was darn-near unstoppable.

Texas’ Bijan Robinson came into the game with all the hype and took a big lead on the race for the top back in the game, but then Brooks blew past him like Secretariat. 

Brooks finished with 217 yards and two touchdowns — both in the fourth quarter with the game tied and both on direct snaps — to help lift the Sooners to victory.

Brooks’ previous career high was 182 yards against West Virginia in 2018.

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Caleb Williams takes control

Caleb Williams bobbled the snap as the pressure closed in.

But Williams, OU’s freshman quarterback who entered Saturday’s Red River Showdown as the backup, remained cool and calm, not only picking the ball off the Cotton Bowl turf but maintaining his poise as he ran through his options.

The run was there, at least to get close to a first down.

But instead, Williams kept the play alive, soon finding Marvin Mims in the end zone for a touchdown that pulled the Sooners to within 11, 41-30, in the waning seconds of the third.

Williams entered the game in the second quarter, taking over for an ineffective Spencer Rattler, who fumbled once and threw an interception in the first half.

But to that point, Williams had appeared more of a place-holder, mostly handing the ball off with some short passes mixed in.

On that play, though, Williams showed that he’s the Sooners’ quarterback moving forward.

Williams had a 66-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, but Rattler for another chance after that.

But a Rattler fumble two drives later put him on the bench for the rest of the game — except for Rattler’s two-point conversion pass to Drake Stoops to tie the game with 7:25 left.

Williams finished with 211 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-24 passing and ran for 88 yards and a touchdown.

It’s hard to imagine Williams not being the quarterback next week when OU hosts TCU.

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OU quarterback Caleb Williams (13) breaks free from Texas' Jerrin Thompson (28) for a 66-yard touchdown run on fourth down in the second quarter on Saturday to make it 28-14 Longhorns.

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Worthy opponent

Xavier Worthy gave the Longhorns an injection of momentum right off the bat. Then he gave the Sooners a shot in the arm just past the midpoint of the fourth quarter.

Just after OU tied it in the fourth, Worthy fielded Gabe Brkic’s kickoff well into the endzone and brought it out inexplicably.

It didn’t go well.

Not only was Worthy stopped before he even got to the 20, but in one motion, Caleb Kelly stripped Worthy and maintained control.

Though Worthy was ruled down on the field, the Sooners burst into celebration, with Bryan Mead wildly waving his arms in celebration in front of the crimson-clad portion of the Cotton Bowl.

Shortly after, officials confirmed what Mead knew — that it would be OU’s ball.

On the next play, Kennedy Brooks took a direct snap and went 18 yards for a touchdown to put the Sooners ahead for the first time.

Worthy made up for his miscue a bit with a 31-yard touchdown catch with 1:23 left and finished with nine catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns.

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Inauspicious start

Texas’ DeMarvion Overshown had himself a day Saturday before all the fans even got into the Cotton Bowl.

On back-to-back plays on OU’s first drive of the game, Overshown blew through the Sooners’ offensive line untouched to sack Spencer Rattler on third down, then blocked Michael Turk’s punt a play later to give the Longhorns the ball at the Sooners’ 2.

Shortly thereafter, the Longhorns took a 14-0 lead. 

Overshown’s heroics came after Casey Thompson hit Xavier Worthy for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the game’s first play. 

By the time the first quarter was over, the Longhorns led 28-7. The Sooners had never allowed 28 points in the first quarter before. 

The previous most points scored against the Sooners in the first quarter was 22 by Nebraska in 1989.

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Casey Thompson’s big day, defense's response

Charles Thompson won’t have to throw the hook ’em horns this season.

The former OU quarterback said before the game that he would only flash the sign if Texas beat the Sooners with his son, Casey Thompson, at quarterback.

The former Southmoore and Newcastle star had a massive game — 388 yards and five touchdowns on 20-of-34 passing — but it wasn’t quite enough to get the Longhorns the win.

No Texas quarterback had thrown for as many as four touchdowns against the Sooners, but Thompson had reached that by a little past the midpoint of the second quarter.

The Sooners’ defense, which had struggled to slow down Thompson from stretching the field vertically — bowed up from there, and Texas went from the 6:41 mark in the second quarter until the final two minutes of the game without a touchdown.

After putting up 345 yards of total offense in the first half, the Sooners defense held Texas to just 171 yards after halftime, including just 27 yards on the ground.