The latest edition of the Red River Showdown belongs to the Texas Longhorns.
Texas sent the Oklahoma Sooners back across the Red River with a 48-45 loss, and thus, the Golden Hat is headed south for the first time since 2015.
The outcome could have been entirely different if it weren’t for a few key plays, though.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey picks up 19 yards on 3rd and 21
Faced with a 3rd and 21, Tom Herman admitted during his post-game media availability that the play-call of a simple bubble screen was was meant to be exactly that — simple. Pick up a a quick few yards and punt the ball away.
Initially, that’s what the bubble screen to Lil’Jordan Humphrey amounted to, with the Longhorns receiver gaining about nine yards before finding himself in a congested cluster of crimson and cream. Then the big uglies in burnt orange and white came to his aid and pushed the pile for another 10 yards to set the Horns up with a 4th and 2.
This is the kind of effort that’s been evident time and time again throughout Texas 5-game winning streak. Horns pushed the pile for an extra 10 yards... 5 plays later, Texas takes 31-17 lead. pic.twitter.com/bsDdlM7SeJ— Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) October 7, 2018
“That to me was the play of the game,” Herman said after the game. “The play of the game.”
“That’s a culture play,” Herman added.
A drive that looked likely to end with a punt just plays before, instead, saw the chains move on 4th and 2, and ultimately, cap with Sam Ehlinger strolling into the end zone to extend the Longhorns lead to 31-17.
Kyler Murray fumbles on first play of potential tying drive
After being limited to only 17 first-half points, Oklahoma’s potent offense finally exploded on its first drive of the second half, as Kyler Murray connected with Marquise Brown for a 77-yard touchdown strike. The Sooners then mounted more momentum, as the defense finally arrived and forced its first punt of the game, sending Texas’ offense to the sidelines after three quick plays.
Just like that, Oklahoma owned the momentum and only 72 yards separated the Sooners from the potential game-tying touchdown. However, the drive ended as soon as it began, as Murray tried to do a bit too much in an attempt to escape pressure on the first play, fumbling as he tried to find balance with the ball.
For as great as Kyler Murray was at times against Texas, he also gift wrapped a few for the Horns. Sooners has all the momentum before this fumble, and Texas capitalized with a TD 5 plays later. pic.twitter.com/vV8NIHryl0— Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) October 7, 2018
Five quick plays later, the Longhorns lead was back to double digits, 38-24, after capitalizing on a drive that began deep in Sooners territory.
B.J. Foster prevents potential explosive play with pass breakup
Oklahoma’s attempt to answer Texas’ touchdown drive to extend its lead to 38-24 could have ended much more fortunately if it weren’t for a praiseworthy play from Longhorns freshman safety, B.J. Foster.
Faced with a 3rd and 3, Murray delivered a deep bomb to Lee Morris, which, if completed, would have been good for about 60 yards to moved Oklahoma to the edge of the red zone.
Somehow, the ball found its way into Morris’ hands, splitting a maze of arms along the way, only to be knocked loose by Foster, who dislodged the ball by swatting at Morris’ arm.
This effort here from BJ Foster probably won’t get as much praise as it deserves, but was huge in that it prevented a potential 60-yard gain and forced a punt. pic.twitter.com/UAzoLdbxu0— Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) October 7, 2018
As a result of a remarkable effort from the freshman, the Sooners were unable to cut into Texas’ 14-point lead.
The Longhorns capitalized on Oklahoma’s missed opportunity on the following drive, adding another seven points to extend the lead to 45-24.
Kyler Murray explodes for 66-yard TD run
The Longhorns increasing its 24-point edge to the above-noted 45-24 cushion sent some Sooners fans to the exits, but of course, the outcome from far from certain.
After chipping into Texas’ lead a few drives later, the Sooners forced a Texas three-and-out, and the Murray flashed further evidence of exactly why he’s a Heisman candidate and one of the most electric athletes in all of college football.
Trailing 45-31 with only 5:22 remaining, Murray wasted a mere 11 seconds chewing up 66 yards and cutting the Longhorns lead to just one score, 45-38.
The impact of Murray’s 66-yard touchdown scamper was felt even beyond the scoreboard, as the fact that only 11 seconds were spent was tremendously significant.
The Longhorns following drive drained only 1:28 from the clock behind three passing plays. Had the Sooners’ scoring drive chewed up two or three minutes, and thus, left only two or three minutes remaining in the game, the Longhorns may have been able to simply hand the ball off three times, force Oklahoma to spend its final timeout, and potentially eat every bit of the clock up to effectively end the game, as Texas did in a one-score win over Tulsa.
Thanks to Murray, though, that outcome wasn’t able to come to fruition, which set the stage for a much more sensational finish to the Red River Showdown.
Dicker The Kicker... Red River immortality
“It’s all on the shoulders of a freshman, Cameron Dicker. From 40 yards away. For the University of Texas... Red River immortality... Earthquake! He hit it! Dicker the Kicker! 48-45, Texas!”
DICKER THE KICKER FOR RED RIVER IMMORTALITY. pic.twitter.com/TxSd92mPpX— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 6, 2018
Kickers haven’t won many games for the Longhorns in recent memory. In fact, quite the opposite is true, as Texas has endured numerous losses at the hands — or legs — of various kickers throughout the past handful of years.
Such woes are exactly why Cameron Dicker, a true freshman, is starting over a senior Joshua Rowland, and being asked to connect from 40 yard to deliver Texas what’s now arguably its most significant win since 2009.
The attempt was true, giving Texas a 48-45 lead with only nine seconds to spare.
“I knew I was going to make it,” Dicker said after the game.
Dicker The Kicker... Red River immortality.
The Golden Hat belongs to Texas. This t-shirt can belong to you. The victory will live forever.