Two storms of a very different nature befuddled the No. 1 Texas Longhorns this afternoon before 75,587 at the Cotton Bowl. Wind and driving rain gave the Texas offense no ground to cling to. And the other storm, the defense of No. 3 Oklahoma, pulled off a minor miracle with just under four minutes left in the game, when -- pushed back to their two-yard line -- the Sooners kept Texas at bay for four consecutive downs for a seemingly safe 15-10 lead.
As wet and wild as the 79th meeting of these rivals proved to be, the game ended in a 15-15 tie after Oklahoma (4-0-1) elected to give a safety with 2:10 to play and Jeff Ward overcame a high snap to kick a 32-yard field goal for Texas (3-0-1) on the final play.
The kick followed a ruling by the officials that nullified an apparent interception by Oklahoma inside its five. Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer vehemently protested, as he did two other calls in Texas' final series, and set the visiting nation of Big Red supporters into a frenzy.
Switzer said the officials, split between the Southwest and Big Eight conferences "actually took the game away from us . . . I'm telling you, if they ain't homing . . ." Switzer said all three calls were made by Southwest Conference officials.
The call in question at the end was an incomplete pass from Texas quarterback Todd Dodge to wide receiver Bill Boy Bryant, who bobbled the pass and tipped it into the hands of defensive back Keith Stanberry.
Television replays clearly showed Stanberry in possession of the ball with both feet in bounds. But officials ruled he landed out of bounds before he had control of the ball.
"I intercepted that pass," Stanberry said. "Andre (Johnson) tipped it and I caught it before I went out of bounds."
Switzer also said he thought Texas fullback Jerome Johnson should have been charged with a fumble after a pass completion at the Texas 47 and he disagreed with a pass interference call on Stanberry -- he thought it was an uncatchable ball -- that gave Texas a first down at the Sooners' 41.
Switzer said he had no second thoughts about the intentional safety when center Kevin Adkins deliberately snapped the ball over punter Mike Winchester's head, allowing the Sooners a free kick from their 20 rather than a punt under pressure from around the goal line.
Kelvin Epps returned the free kick 17 yards, and Texas drove from its 44 to the tying field goal.
Oklahoma, which trailed by 10-0 at halftime, had reason to rejoice earlier. With six minutes to play, Dodge passed to tight end William Harris for 20 yards, then a run of 58 yards by freshman tailback Kevin Nelson put the ball on Oklahoma's two.
Texas Coach Fred Akers thought tailback Terry Orr could muscle in off right guard, but two attempts failed. Orr, trying the left side, proved equally futile. Finally, on fourth and one, Nelson took a pitch around the right side but, confronted by a crowd of Sooner defenders, lost his footing and slid on his back across the drenched turf.
Neither offense performed very well. Dodge, ranked second nationally in passing efficiency before the game, completed only six of 24 for 74 yards and one interception. His offense managed only 170 yards, compared to an equally dismal 177 gained by Oklahoma. Spencer Tillman rushed for 115 of Oklahoma's.
Oklahoma quarterback Danny Bradley completed seven of 12 passes, but he was ineffective running the option off the wishbone because of the rain.
The only first down the Longhorns got in the first half came on Dodge's 25-yard touchdown pass to Bryant, who was in wet pasture a good five yards behind Stanberry. That gave Texas a 7-0 lead with 4:27 left in the first quarter. The only other score that half came on Ward's 40-yard field goal 2:34 before intermission.
Although the Sooners' first possession of the third quarter ended at midfield, Winchester's punt was downed on the Texas two. The Longhorns needed only two downs to prove how inept they were on the ground. Orr hit off center on a simple dive play and fumbled, with Stanberry recovering on the six. Halfback Steve Sewell muscled through the heart of the Texas defense for Oklahoma's first touchdown with 9:14 left in the third period, making it 10-7.
Texas failed to go anywhere on the ensuing drive. John Teltschik set up to punt near his goal line, but Terry Steelhammer centered the ball three yards over his head and it dribbled out of the end zone for a safety.
Texas free kicked from its 20 and Oklahoma started its most impressive drive of the day from its 29. The big play was a spectacular reception by Sewell, who pulled in a pass from Bradley on the Texas 12.
On the next play, Sewell proved he was equally exceptional on the ground. He ran into an unmoving pile of defenders, bounced off and sprinted around left end for 12 yards, making it 15-10 with three minutes left in the third period.