A year after the Red River Showdown saw 93 total points scored in Texas’ 48-45 upset victory over Oklahoma, a healthy dose of defense was added to the rivalry game in Week 7.
No. 6 Oklahoma led No. 11 Texas 7-0 after the first quarter and 10-3 at halftime as sports bettors across the country asked themselves where the points were in Dallas.
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts turned the ball over in the red zone twice in the Sooners’ first three possessions, which was the easy explanation for the Sooners’ low first-half point total, but even though his team’s defense didn’t force any turnovers of its own, it put the clamps on a Texas offense that ranked No. 4 nationally entering the weekend, according to the SP+ rankings.
Oklahoma’s defense is respectable in its own right (No. 36 SP+ – a huge improvement from its year-end ranking of No. 84 last season) but it’s predictably overshadowed by Hurts and the Sooners’ top-ranked offense.
But on a national stage in Oklahoma’s biggest regular season game, its defense proved that not only is it no longer a liability, but it’s a potential unit of strength for the playoff-contending Sooners.
Here are numbers from Oklahoma’s 34-27 win that tell the story of the Sooners’ strong defensive showing.
That’s how many yards per play Oklahoma held Texas to in the Red River Showdown. The Longhorns managed just 310 yards on 73 plays. Oklahoma’s offense averaged nearly twice as many yards per play (8.21 yards per play).
That’s the percent of Texas’ plays that resulted in a loss of yards or no gain.
The Longhorns had 29 such plays, including 15 that resulted in negative yards, meaning one in every five Texas snaps resulted in a loss of yards.
That’s how many times Oklahoma sacked Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, which meant that he was sacked on roughly 19 percent of his drop-backs in the game. Texas failed to sack Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts even once in the game.
That’s how many yards Texas needed in order to pick up a first down, on average, on third down.
The Longhorns faced 3rd & 10 once and 3rd & 11+ on six occasions.
On those seven plays, they gained a net total of nine yards – -10 yards (sack), 14, three (quarterback run), -10 (sack), two (quarterback run), zero (incompletion) and zero (incompletion).
That’s how many yards Texas averaged per drop-back, which includes sacks and sack yardage. Ehlinger averaged just 5.7 yards per pass attempt.
That’s how many yards Ehlinger averaged per carry, not including sacks or sack yardage, which are traditionally counted as part of rushing yards in college football. He had a team-high 14 carries for 45 yards and 11 of those yards came from one run, which means he averaged 2.61 yards on his other 13 carries.
Ehlinger had just two runs longer than five yards so the Sooners were able to bottle up Texas’ No. 1 rushing option.
That’s the percent of Texas’ first down plays that resulted in no gain or a loss of yards. The Longhorns averaged 4.82 yards on first down but nearly 40 percent of the time, they didn’t gain any yards, or lost yards.
That’s how many yards per target Texas averaged on throws to Brennan Eagles, who was tied for third on the team with six targets on Saturday.
He caught two of the six passes intended for him for 12 yards.
Converted running back Roschon Johnson (4.60 yards) and Malcolm Epps (4.83 yards) also averaged less than five yards per target on five and six targets, respectively.
That’s how many plays Texas ran that resulted in a gain of at least 20 yards, or in other words, roughly four percent of the Longhorns snaps. For comparison, Oklahoma had 10 plays of 20-plus yards, or 15.8 percent of the Sooners’ snaps.