Texas 45, Oklahoma 12
-- For the past five years, Texas Coach Mack Brown viewed each loss against Oklahoma as a reflection of his own performance. But Saturday, when Brown's Longhorns finally ended a five-game losing streak in the 100th installment of the Red River Shootout, he repeatedly said the result was not about him.
A joyous Brown and his players hoisted the Golden Hat Trophy in the middle of the Cotton Bowl field following a 45-12 rout of the Sooners before 75,452. Players urged Brown to wear the gilded cowboy hat. He eyed it but declined.
Brown, the eighth-year Texas coach long criticized for not winning the big game despite an abundance of talent, refused to bask for long. And while he acknowledged the victory was much needed, probably both for the program and the psyche of its fans, it was not unexpected.
Oklahoma, now 2-3 and unranked, lost 10 players to last year's NFL draft and is a shell of the team that had scored more than 60 points twice in its past five beatings of Texas and last year held the Longhorns scoreless. In fact, Brown told players before the game: "We have the better team. Let's have the better team . . . today."
In short, Brown said later, snapping the streak meant, "Now we have a chance to accomplish the things that this game has cost us over the years."
The victory clears a path for the second-ranked Longhorns (5-0) to challenge for their first national championship since 1970. They haven't lost since falling to Oklahoma, 12-0, last season, a string of 12 straight victories.
Texas was the better team and seemed to know it. Quarterback Vince Young, who admittedly was "uptight" in last season's game, calmly warmed up beforehand with headphones in his ears. When the game began, he promptly led the Longhorns on a 12-play, 82-yard drive for the game's opening touchdown.
Oklahoma's offense had struggled all season, but it was particularly inept without a healthy Adrian Peterson, the Heisman Trophy runner-up who accumulated 225 rushing yards in last year's game against Texas.
Peterson, who missed two days of practice during the week because of a sprained right ankle, carried only three times for 10 yards, all in the first half. Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops said Peterson's lateral movement was inhibited.
On one play, Jamaal Charles's 80-yard touchdown run, Texas registered more total yards in the first half than Oklahoma, which had 68 of its 171 yards before halftime. The game's momentum changed dramatically after Charles's run, during which he cut left then bounded off a defender before finding his balance in the open field. The score gave Texas a 14-6 lead only minutes after Oklahoma had recovered a fumble by Texas tailback Selvin Young deep in Longhorn territory and converted a 26-yard field goal.
Oklahoma remained in the game, albeit barely, until a sequence late in the second quarter proved the "breaking point," Stoops said. Oklahoma linebacker Zach Latimer intercepted a Young pass and returned it to the Texas 30-yard line. But a controversial pass interference penalty nullified the play, giving Texas a first down at the Oklahoma 46.
Texas capped the drive with a 37-yard field goal and extended the lead further with a short drive that began in the final minute of the second quarter. Young found a wide-open Billy Pittman deep down the sideline for a 64-yard touchdown pass that gave the Longhorns a 24-6 lead.
With Oklahoma's offense struggling mightily -- first-year starting quarterback Rhett Bomar completed only 3 of 13 passes by halftime -- the second half appeared a mere formality. That's quite a revelation for an Oklahoma team that has reached three national title games the past five years.
But even Stoops conceded, "We're not strong enough to overcome those" two big plays in the first half.
Young said Bomar looked like Young had appeared in this game in the past -- promising but uptight. The junior was more poised Saturday, throwing for 241 yards and three touchdowns.
Aside from providing dynamic playmaking ability, Young has used his leadership to influence his coach. Young was one of the Texas players who urged Brown to download some hip-hop tunes onto the coach's iPod, a gadget that was not even invented the last time Texas beat Oklahoma on Oct. 9, 1999.
Indeed, it had been some time since joyous Longhorn fans exited the Cotton Bowl through the fairgrounds on the first Saturday of October.
But Brown maintained focus on long-term aspirations. Someone wondered how he refrained from tears after the game.
Said Brown, "It's midseason."