Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth grew up in Irving, Tex., but always knew an enormous hatred of the big state university in Austin. He hated everything about the place, he once said. And whenever he thought about playing the University of Texas Longhorns, a violent feeling swept right through him. It was weird and uncontrollable. "It just comes," is what he said.
At the end of his second meeting with Texas today, before 75,587 at the Cotton Bowl, Bosworth led the cheers and danced heroically to a volley of cannon blasts that rocked the great cement bowl. But only the Oklahoma half of the stadium joined in his celebration. The No. 2 Sooners used a mean-spirited defense to overwhelm No. 17 Texas, 14-7, and claim the 80th meeting between the two schools. Oklahoma, a Big Eight power, is 3-0; Texas, a member of the Southwest Conference, drops to 3-1.
"It was the greatest defensive performance ever by an Oklahoma team since I've been here," Sooner Coach Barry Switzer said. "And that's all of 20 years I'm talking about."
Bosworth, whom Switzer called "the greatest linebacker in the country," and the Sooner defense limited the Longhorns to 70 yards and four first downs, all of which came in the first half. And they did it without all-America noseguard Tony Casillas, who sprained his knee early in the first quarter and spent the rest of the afternoon watching the action from the bench.
Behind the terrific play of Bosworth, who had nine tackles and one pass interception, the Sooners defense forced the Longhorns to punt 12 times and allowed them only 50 offensive plays, most of which went straight into the carpet. The lone Texas score came when Sooner fullback Lydell Carr took a hard hat to his gut and fumbled the ball. Defensive end Kip Cooper intercepted the ball in the air and ran it in seven yards for the touchdown. That happened with 2:35 left in the first quarter.
Cooper said the touchdown was "just one of those things. The ball popped right up. I was just afraid that I would fall down before I could get into the end zone."
Bosworth's goal against Texas, he said, "was to come out and prove that we were the better team. I feel this is the biggest victory of my career because of all of the talk last year and the fact that I live here. I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone else what we could do."
Texas Coach Fred Akers was most impressed with the effort by the Sooners defense, but he was also quick to praise his own. "The winner of this game is almost always the team that plays great defense, gets good field position and makes the fewest mistakes," Akers said. "The difference was that we made more mistakes than they did . . . Our brightest spot was that we played defense against a fine team."
Although the Oklahoma offense managed 287 total yards, it, too, had a difficult time getting warmed up. In the first quarter, the Sooners held onto the ball for more than nine minutes but gained only one first down and 22 yards.
They finally got something going early in the second quarter. Quarterback Troy Aikman passed 43 yards to tight end Keith Jackson to help set up Oklahoma's first score. Jackson said the big pass came on a play designed especially for Texas. "The Texas Special Pass," he said, "pulled in the strong safety to support against the run off the option set and let me run right by him." With 10:18 left in the half, Carr dove one yard over a heap off left guard for the touchdown, ending the nine-play, 80-yard drive.
"Everything we tried to do didn't work," said Texas quarterback Todd Dodge, who completed four of 13 passes for 53 yards and was sacked four times. "We just couldn't get anything rolling. But of course, OU had a lot to do with that."
Texas' leading rusher was tailback Charles Hunter, who gained all of 18 yards on 12 carries.
Longhorns tailback Eric Metcalf, a freshman from Bishop O'Connell in Arlington, Va., said at times it seemed as though "the fans were right out there on the field, it was so loud . . . It was a hard-hitting game, as hard a hitting game as I've ever been in. We wanted to get something going on the ground and then go to the pass, but we just made too many mistakes. This is tough. There's never much good in a loss, but we'll be back."
There were more than 13 minutes gone in the third quarter before either team made a first down. That finally came when Aikman dropped back to pass, found no open receivers and ran into a clearing for 28 yards before being hauled down by Texas cornerback Tony Griffin. When the Sooners tried to gain more on the ground, their effort proved futile, what with the tough play of linebacker Ty Allert and the aggressive pass coverage of cornerback Tony Tillmon. With 52 seconds left in the third period, Tim Lasher tried a 44-yard field goal but kicked wide right.
Said Allert, "It was real hot out there and we did get a little tired, but they were out there every bit as much. I can't use the heat as an excuse. They were just good, as they always are."
Texas moved ahead, 14-7, with 12:25 to go in the game when halfback Patrick Collins took an option pitch off left end for 45 yards and the touchdown. There was so much wide open pasture, Collins said, "all I had to do was get to the end zone."
It was the eighth carry all season for the sophomore substitute.
Akers said, "We didn't have a breakdown on the play, it was just executed perfectly. They got a block on our safety and our corner couldn't get over to cut him off."
The only other scoring threat came late in the game, when Aikman moved the Sooners to the Texas 29 before being stalled. Lasher again kicked wide right on the field goal try, this one from 46 yards.
"They were tired in the second half," Oklahoma defensive end Kevin Murphy said. "And we capitalized on that. We played 'lights-out' football. That's what it was."