It was all bad in the Cotton Bowl for Oklahoma on Saturday. The Sooners were outplayed, out-hustled and out-coached by a Texas team that came into the game reeling and desperate to end a three-year drought to Oklahoma. The Longhorns were the aggressors in the game, while OU looked more the part of the underdogs. Despite the frustrations on offense and shortcomings on defense, there were three plays that were key to the Sooners dropping their first game in the rivalry since 2009.
Incomplete Pass To Brennan Clay On First Offensive Possession - After Texas scored a field goal on their opening possession the Sooners were driving. It was probably the best offensive series of the day for Oklahoma as they were averaging 6.4 yards per play (they averaged 4.5 for the game). Facing a third and four from the Texas seventeen Blake Bell lobbed a near perfect pass to a wide open Brennan Clay near the back corner of the end zone. The ball slipped through Clay's hands and fell incomplete resulting in a Michael Hunnicutt field goal that tied the game at 3-3. Had the pass been completed, the Sooners would have had a 7-3 lead and a lot of momentum. Instead, a struggling Texas defense gained a little more confidence.
Blake Bell Interception Returned 31-Yards For A Touchdown - Texas had just committed the first turnover of the game and with the score still tied at 3-3 the Sooners were in position to gain early control of the crowd and their opponent. Again Oklahoma faced a third and four and looked to pass. This time Bell threw under pressure and didn't seem to recognize that defensive lineman Chris Whaley had dropped into coverage. Whaley snagged the interception an ran 31-yards for the score to the game's first touchdown. With a 10-3 lead, Texas was the team that had control and they never relinquished it.
Daje Johnson 85-yard punt return for a touchdown - Not the first time that we've seen Texas use a special teams play to change the momentum of a game in this rivalry. Oklahoma cut their deficit to ten points on the opening possession of the second half and then put the breaks on the Longhorn offense. After getting the ball back, trailing 23-13, on their on 42, the Sooners had a short field and seemed to be gaining momentum. OU couldn't capitalize and punted after a three-and-out. Johnson returned the punt for a score and, with struggles limiting the Sooner offense, put the game out of reach.
There were several other contributing factors to Oklahoma's loss on Saturday but these three plays were absolute back breakers. They each contributed to changes on the scoreboard and either gave or continued momentum towards the Texas side. Had they gone Oklahoma's way the game would have been more of a dogfight and OU would have had a chance. As it is, you have to give Texas credit for making plays when the Sooners couldn't.