Texas turns tables on Oklahoma in monumental upset

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Longhorns were unexpectedly the better team in the Cotton Bowl.

For the first time since 2006, the Texas Longhorns dominated the Oklahoma Sooners at the point of attack offensively and most of the day defensively to drop a massive 36-20 upset on heavily-favored Oklahoma.

In an era where so many losses have competed for the worst of the Mack Brown era, the win on Saturday was the biggest upset of the Mack Brown-Bob Stoops rivalry and perhaps the only time in the history of the series that Texas out-coached, out-played and out-efforted Oklahoma.

There was no need for platitudes on this day. Only superlatives.

The dream of winning the Big 12 is still alive for Brown, who relieved some of the pressure on his steaming hot coaching seat. The seniors on this Texas team, who have been so maligned so many times over the course of their careers, finally got a win over Oklahoma.

Winning in the Cotton Bowl is about winning at the point of attack and the Longhorns were dominant, aided mostly by the gritty efforts of sophomore starting running back Johnathan Gray, who gained 123 yards on 29 carries after play caller Major Applewhite failed to use him against Iowa State, and a resurgent performance from overlooked junior Malcolm Brown, who responded to his opportunity by putting his head down and grinding for 120 yards on 23 carries.

Both players ran as hard and as well as they have in their respective careers, picking up a substantial number of yards after contact and consistently moving the pile to keep the Longhorns ahead of the chains. Credit the offensive line as well, but most of the yards gained were after contact from the Texas running backs.

Against a team that had faced the third-fewest rushing attempts in the country on the season, the fact that Texas was able to run the ball 60 times told the whole tale of the game.

Except for the two big touchdowns from Chris Whaley on his interception return and Daje Johnson on his incredible 85-yard punt return for a score, of course.

And the two beautiful passes from Case McCoy on the day, one to Marcus Johnson on a critical 59-yard touchdown on an out-and-up and another beautifully thrown ball to Mike Davis for 38 yards. Even though McCoy didn't hit every throw available and threw the pick six to Geneo Grissom on a screen that gave Oklahoma life late, his efforts were enough for the Longhorns to win the game, as he once again sprinkled his magic moxie dust on head coach Mack Brown to preserve McCoy's status as resident guardian angel for the embattled Texas head coach.

If the game came down to whether McCoy's uncanny magic would out-match the physical skills and throwing ability of Bell, consider this a resounding victory for McCoy, who cemented his legacy as a player whose ability to make big plays in big moments well outpaces his physical skills and mechanics.

Magic. Moxie. Dust.

It doesn't make sense, but little did about this victory and sometimes inhabiting a reality that makes so little sense is so much better than the alternative experienced over the last two seasons. Glory in it.

The story is the same as after the Kansas State game, but this wasn't a team with the same flaws as the Wildcats. Sure, there are clearly flaws with Oklahoma, especially with the play calling that got trashed in the same way that Major Applewhite's effort did against Iowa State, and from starting quarterback Blake Bell, who was exposed as a passer and wasn't utilized as a runner, but this win was absolutely uncommon  and astounding when considered within the history of the Mack Brown-Bob Stoops narrative played out in the Cotton Bowl over these last 15 seasons.

Congratulations to Mack Brown. Congratulations to the players. Congratulations to the coaching staff. They earned this, they deserved this, and this win is for them. Unequivocally.

It will be a long two weeks until the Longhorns travel to Fort Worth to play a Horned Frogs team with plenty of flaws of their own as the dream remains alive. In that time, there's room for little other than appreciation for this win and what it means for the character of this Texas program, questioned rightly so much over the last few weeks and months and years.

Our time, our time, our conference?

The results have matched the rhetoric so far in conference play after the devastating non-conference results and Texas still has a chance.

If this was Mack Brown's last appearance in the Cotton Bowl, it couldn't have been a better finale.

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