DALLAS (AP) — Jalen Hurts threw three touchdown passes to CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma’s defense sacked Sam Ehlinger nine times and the No. 6 Sooners never trailed in a 34-27 victory over 11th-ranked Texas on Saturday.
A year after a 48-45 loss in the Red River rivalry that led to the firing of their defensive coordinator, the Sooners harassed Ehlinger into minus-9 yards rushing while holding the quarterback with the three highest total yardage outputs for Texas against Oklahoma almost 200 yards below that 387-yard average.
“I think we try to approach every game as the same and we try to have the same mentality for every game,” safety Pat Fields said. “But with games like this, it’s kind of different, too, just because of the atmosphere, how big things are. This made a statement to the country and everybody.”
The Sooners (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) stayed on track for a third straight trip to the College Football Playoff and avenged last year’s loss in Cotton Bowl Stadium in the middle of the Texas state fair, a victory that came in a rematch of the Big 12 championship game.
The Longhorns (4-2, 2-1) are likely relegated to a spoiler role if there’s a second consecutive Big 12 title game between the rivals.
Both teams played under the threat of an ejection for unsportsmanlike conduct after referee Mike Defee flagged everyone 30 minutes before the game when clusters of players got too close at midfield while wrapping up warmups and started jawing at each other.
The only ejection was Texas defensive lineman Malcolm Roach, and it wasn’t for unsportsmanlike conduct. He was flagged for targeting while hitting Lamb helmet-first and late two plays before Lamb weaved through Texas defenders on a flea-flicker pass on a 51-yard score.
Lamb had 10 catches for 171 yards, tip-toeing on the sideline to stay inbounds on the 27-yarder for his final TD. Hurts threw for 235 yards, and the nation’s leading rusher among QBs had 131 more on the ground, including a punctuating 3-yard touchdown for a 34-20 lead late in the fourth quarter.
Hurts had a chance to give the Sooners a big lead early, but he lost a fumble at the Texas 7-yard line at end of his longest run, a 27-yarder in the first quarter. The Alabama transfer with plenty of rivalry experience from facing Auburn threw an interception in the Texas end zone in the second quarter.
Ehlinger didn’t look comfortable until well into the second half, flinching from a clean pocket and underthrowing a receiver that was behind the Oklahoma defense on the first play of the third quarter after the Longhorns were held to 83 yards before halftime.
The nine sacks left Ehlinger with 23 carries for those minus-9 yards, although he scored twice on the ground while going 26 of 38 for 210 yards. Roschon Johnson had 95 yards rushing, 57 of them on a third-quarter run that set up his 4-yard score.
“They did a really good job of swarming the football,” Ehlinger said. “Obviously they recruit extremely well and have tremendously talented players. I feel like they just let them go make plays.”
Leading Texas receiver Devin Duvernay had a quiet day — except for several questionable decisions on punt returns that hurt field position for Texas. One of them was ruled a fair catch at the 5, followed by consecutive false-start penalties. A subsequent field goal put Oklahoma up 10.
Oklahoma: Hurts made some poor decisions on throws, with one only costing the Sooners points. Another ill-advised throw into the Texas end zone was just out of the reach of a defender.
Texas: Even though the Longhorns got even in the third quarter, it never felt like they were in the game after the slow start offensively. The speed of Oklahoma’s front seven seemed to have Ehlinger out of sorts most of the day.
Oklahoma: West Virginia at home next Saturday.
Texas: Kansas at home next Saturday.