By: Joey Spathis
From the first steps off the bus and onto the warm cement parking lot, you can feel the seismic activity vibrate up your legs and into your spine from the roars of the sold-out crowd. Your nose is filled with the sweet fumes of a fresh batch of cinnamon apple funnel cake. The Cotton Bowl experience is truly unrivaled. With a seating capacity of 92,100, the stadium is comprised of an upper bowl and a lower bowl. It truthfully does not feel like there is a bad seat in the house. Additionally, what makes the seating even more special is that half the stadium from the fifty yard line onwards is Texas fans and the other Sooner fans. A sea of burnt orange clashing against crimson and white. Each team feels like they’re playing both a home and an away game with the disparity of fans.
Chills ran through the sea of burnt orange that was the Texas Student Section as we approached kickoff. The Cotton Bowl, arguably the most anticipated game of the year, was finally here. So many lingering questions will finally be answered:
Can we win the cotton bowl back to back years? How well will heisman candidate Jalen Hurts play? Is our secondary going to be able cover Oklahoma’s talented wide receivers? Is Oklahoma's supposedly improved defense for real?
All college football fans were anxious to see which narratives about two Big 12 powerhouses proved to be true. The opening kickoff resulted in a less than mediocre kick by Cameron Dicker in which Oklahoma had began their opening drive at their thirty four yardline; from the start, UT struggled in the battle for field position.
The Sooner opening drive consisted of a couple of good Jalen Hurts rushes, including an 11 yard scamper by Heisman Hopeful Jalen Hurts. The drive concluded with a one yard scoring catch by projected 2020 first round pick CeeDee Lamb. After that drive the reality began to sink in; OU was as good as advertised. Oklahoma’s offense then punted the ball back to Texas, and the Longhorns first drive resulted in a three and out with a ten yard sack on second down. It would unfortunately be not the first time Longhorn fans would be seeing Sam getting sacked, as he got sacked nine times on Saturday, which was tough to watch. The following drive by the Sooners resulted in a Jalen Hurts fumble on the opposing twenty seven.
This moment provided an amount of electricity that was absolutely amazing to be a part of. While Texas did not capitalize on this possession and punted the ball away, the next possession provided what I thought to be the most exciting moment of the game as a Longhorn fan.
Jalen Hurts threw an interception in Texas’ endzone to make the game still 7-0 and provided life for the Longhorns. After this possession, three punts occur, Oklahoma makes a field goal to make the game ten to zero, and then Texas drives down the field and answers right back with three points of their own to close out of the half down a touchdown.
The second half felt a lot less close than the first half as at times it was hard to not admit that OU was simply a better team with more talent than Texas. Although Texas scored the first points of the half, which was a four yard rush from Roschon Johnson that derived from a fifty seven yard run also by Johnson, OU was there to answer. In the drive following the Johnson touchdown, OU ran a flea flicker in which CeeDee Lamb received the ball at around the Texas forty yard line and then somehow managed to avoid getting tackled by three different defenders before running in the endzone.
The Longhorns did manage to score again to score again two drives later on a two yard run by Ehlinger, but it just didn’t feel like we ever really had a chance to take a lead and actually win the game. This was provided true by CeeDee Lamb scoring his second touchdown of the game on the drive following the Ehlinger touchdown, raising the deficit margin back to ten points. It seems as though every one of the fans began to realize that we simply have no reason for OU’s offense and CeeDee Lamb.
Additionally, to add to the deflatement of the crowd, Ehlinger never had time to throw the ball. Dicker nails a field goal, CeeDee Lamb ends up answering Texas points with another touchdown, Texas scores a touchdown in garbage time, and Texas kicks an onside kick that goes out of bounds. It is worth noting that the onside kick was an onside kick of incredible quality, is it took a couple of bounces and looked to be going straight for the hands of a running Brennan Eagles. Unfortunately Eagles couldn’t get to the ball in time, and the game was all but over.
In the end, the final score was not indicative of the nature of the game. OU dominated Texas from the start. Sam Ehlinger struggled throwing for only 210 yards, and adding a score on the ground. For the Sooners, Jalen Hurts completed 16-of-28 his passes, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, and rushing for 131 rushing yards and 1 touchdown. As aforementioned, there were definitely some high’s from the game, but aggregately, it was nothing pretty.
After a contest that lacked the offensive luster most fans expected, Texas drops to 4-2 and OU improves to 6-0. OU and UT will each get a shot at #18 Baylor on 11/16 and 11/23, respectively. Hopefully morale in the Texas’ student section will be a little bit higher versus Baylor than it was at the Cotton Bowl. Regardless, the battle for the Big 12 Championship will be an uphill fight now for the Longhorns. For the time being, the Big 12 team to beat resides in Norman and not Austin.