Who knew that it was so simple to fix things for the Texas Longhorns?
Understanding that something was clearly amiss, junior defensive end Bryce Cottrell took matters into his own hands last week, asking the Based God for forgiveness:
The Horns came out looking like an inspired football team, scoring two quick touchdowns on the Oklahoma Sooners to take a 14-0 lead for the first time in the series since 1995. After a late red-zone stand that held the Sooners to a field goal, the Horns took a 14-3 lead into halftime and held on for a 24-17 upset with more strong play late to give head coach Charlie Strong his first signature win at Texas.
The big play in the second half came when sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman took a sprint draw on 2nd and 12 from the Texas 9-yard line for 81 yards near the end of the third quarter. It was the longest running play from a Longhorns running back since Daje Johnson's 84-yard touchdown run against Baylor in 2012.
The first pass out of the Swoopesdozer package on the goal line resulted in junior tight end Caleb Bluiett's first career touchdown catch. And the joy from junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes when he's back on the field helping his team? Truly beautiful to see.
After the touchdown stretched the Texas lead back to two touchdowns, Oklahoma responded with its best drive of the day, scoring a touchdown in response after converting a key 3rd and 11 with a 15-yard Samaje Perine run and a 4th and 8 when Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield managed to scramble past the chains.
Offensively, the response just wasn't there immediately, as senior running back Johanthan Gray replaced Foreman to predictable results and heavy pressure from a suddently energized Sooner defense ended the drive after only three plays.
But the defense rose up in the key moment, as freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson came up with a sack on second down and sophomore Fox end Naashon Hughes and sophomore defensive tackle Poona Ford combined with another sack on third and long to gain some field position for the offense.
Then the four-minute offense came through for Texas, as Heard managed the game beautifully down the stretch and iced the game with a key 14-yard run to help run the final 3:33 off the clock, setting off a wild and deserved celebration that featured a Gatorade bath for Strong and a brief stint crowd surfing on the shoulders of his ecstatic players.
Back in the first half, a steady drive that covered 76 yards on eight plays led to the first score and early momentum when senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson took a push pass, stiff-armed a defender, then broke several more tackles down the sideline for a huge 24-yard touchdown run that set the stage early and ignited the burnt orange faithful.
And in the Cotton Bowl on the second Saturday of October, there's nothing like consolidating momentum after a big play. Finally healthy, freshman safety DeShon Elliott made his presence felt in his debut as a Longhorn, ripping out the football on the ensuing kickoff return.
Texas capitalized after the fumble recovery when redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard made up for a poor snap by senior center Taylor Doyle on the drive's first play by running for 25 yards after the seven-yard loss. To close the drive, play caller Jay Norvell dialed up three straight plays for junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in the same short-yardage package that helped Blake Bell score four touchdowns against the Horns in the 2012 blowout.
Swoopes fumbled the first run at the goal line, but after Oklahoma safety Steven Parker was unable to recover the football in the end zone, sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Joe ultimately ended up with the football and was eventually credited with the touchdown.
After that, the offense went conversative and was content to let a rejuvenated defense continue to bludgeon an unprepared Oklahoma offensive line. Early on, numerous corner blitzes from senior cornerback Duke Thomas helped disrupt the run game and pass game for the Sooners. Then the defensive line emerged to harry Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The defense accounted for four sacks in the first half after entering the game with only seven, despite the fact that sophomore defensive tackle Poona Ford and junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway were both banged up at times.
In all, it wasn't a flawless offensive performance overall for Texas with 368 total yards and only 55 passing yards, but the offensive line was extremely physical, Heard made some plays, and some new wrinkles by Norvell were more than enough to come out with the victory on a day when the defense gave up fewer than 300 yards and held Oklahoma to only 1.8 yards per carry.
What was extremely impressive was the 313 rushing yards by the Horns, the program's best showing against the Sooners since 1950 -- in a game often won by the team with more attitude in the trenches, that team was definitely Texas on Saturday.
At a time when the 2015 version of the Longhorns looked ready to splinter following the halftime retweet from freshman cornerback Kris Boyd against TCU and the Monday revelation of a locker-room divide between the older and younger players, Texas finally showed some of the togetherness the team hinted at during stretches against California and Oklahoma State -- in truth, it had nothing to do with the silly machinations of a mediocre rapper and had everything to do with the team finally showing the traits that Strong has been wanting to see from them.
Nothing like a rivalry game to bring a team together.
Now the talk about head coach Charlie Strong's job security can die down for a couple of weeks. There won't be any players calling each other out in the media during Kansas State gameweek and Strong doesn't have to stand at the podium and say the same things over and over again.
Strong has long maintained that the team has been better than it has showed during the numerous blowouts in his tenure. On Saturday, he was finally totally and unequivocally correct.