So much for the win probabilities and the projected margin and all the other advanced stats -- in a rivalry game, sheer will and following the script for an upset is sometimes all that matters and that was unquestionably the case for the Texas Longhorns against the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday.
Indeed, the 24-17 victory for the Horns followed all five keys from the 2013 game.
Let's take a look at how it all unfolded:
1. Create big plays on defense and special teams
The defense wasn't able to force any turnovers, but the special teams came up big on a day when senior Daje Johnson wasn't available to create some more magic on a punt return, as freshman safety DeShon Elliott forced a fumble on the kickoff return that followed the first touchdown for Texas. A toe injury sidelined Elliott for the first five games and much of fall camp, so the play came on his first snap as a Longhorn and made for quite an introduction.
Just more than two minutes later, the fumble recovery by sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Joe in the end zone made it 14-0 Texas and Oklahoma never got closer than a touchdown for the rest of the game.
2. Generate big plays on offense
On a day when the Horns gained 313 yards on the ground and the biggest pass play wasn't even really a pass play, two plays stood out for Texas -- the 24-yard push pass to senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson and the 81-yard run by sophomore D'Onta Foreman that set up the final touchdown.
When Johnson scored the game's first touchdown on a push pass, it featured the toughest running of his career to break several tackles and became the biggest play he's made since his long touchdown catch against Oklahoma in 2013. Since then, he'd only scored twice, but he picked the perfect moment to make himself known again.
The biggest play of the game was Foreman's run, a sprint draw that worked in part because Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker was worried about the quarterback sweep from redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard. Given good blocks by the Texas right tackle and junior tight end Caleb Bluiett, Foreman was able to find a crease, break a tackle, and show of his explosiveness in the open field.
3. Dominate the lines of scrimmage
For the first time since 2013, the Texas offensive line truly imposed itself on an opponent -- while there will still mistakes in pass protection, the line was a difference-maker in helping to accumulate 313 rushing yards, even though Oklahoma entered the game as a top-20 rush defense in S&P+. The last time the Horns reached that benchmark was in 2013 against New Mexico.
The Texas defensive line also emerged in a big way for the first time this season. Junior defensive tackle Paul Boyette had one sack and another tackle for loss, his first plays behind the line of scrimmage this season. Even senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson got into the mix, chasing a swing pass to the sideline and hustling for a tackle on the Oklahoma quarterback near the line of scrimmage.
Of course, junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway was a physical presence, too, as he increasingly has been in recent weeks, while sophomore Poona Ford combined with sophomore Fox end Naashon Hughes on the sack that effectively ended any Sooner hopes of tying the game late.
Throw in a sack by junior defensive end Bryce Cottrell on a nice speed rush and it was a total group effort from Brick Haley's position group.
4. Benefit from terrible Oklahoma QB play
Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford's defense hardly sat back and hoped that Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield would make mistakes. Instead, the defensive brain trust dialed up a number of twists, stunts, and pressures to force Mayfield to move his feet -- Texas players said after the game that they noticed he lost accuracy when on the move.
The strategy worked, as the schemes were equally sound against the run at the pass, including multiple cornerback blitzes from senior Duke Thomas and a more active blitzing role this week for freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson. Asked to play on the edge like he did in high school, Jefferson was able to sack Mayfield twice, the first of his Longhorns career. All told, the Texas defense accounted for six sacks in the game after posting only seven total through the first five contests, a number that ranked No. 96 nationally.
Mayfield wasn't terrible on the day, as he didn't turn the ball over and was efficient in completing passes, but the defense was able to keep him from achieving a winning effort.
5. Game plan better than the Sooners
Following the offseason coaching changes by Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, it seemed unlikely that the Sooners would enter the Cotton Bowl without any semblance of a game plan on either side of the ball for the second time in three years.
Instead, it was more of the same for a program that once again looks stale. Take this for example -- Oklahoma safety Steven Parker said that the Sooners didn't prepare for the short-yardage package that features junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. And for some reason Stoops abandoned the same blueprint that worked for other teams in spying Heard to keep him in quick, which helped allow the Texas quarterback to pick up 10 first downs with his feet.
So Heard ran for 115 yards on 21 carries and Swoopes would have acocunted for a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown had he not fumbled on the goal line in the first half on his third straight carry.
According to Heard in the post-game press conference, the Horns didn't enter the game expecting to run the ball 58 times compared to only nine passes, so credit play caller Jay Norvell for making the in-game adjustment, which had the added benefit of controlling the clock. After using up more than three minutes of the clock to end the first half, Texas started the third quarter with a 15-play drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock.
It was sweet revenge for a coach who has long waited for another opportunity to call plays and was one of the coaches scapegoated by Stoops after last season.