Welcome back to another edition of our 2020 Countdown to Kickoff series! With just 91 days until the Oklahoma Sooners are set to open the upcoming college football season, I want to take a look back at one of the most exciting plays in recent Red River Shootout/Rivalry/Showdown/whatever history — Alex Ross’ 91-yard kick return for a TD in 2014.
By the time Oct. 11 rolled around during the 2014 season, OU already knew what it had with Alex Ross as a kickoff returner. The running back product from Jenks, Oklahoma was built for pure, straight-away speed. Against West Virginia earlier that year, he housed a kick 100 yards just before halftime, ultimately helping the Sooners walk out of Morgantown with the ‘W’.
With all of that in mind, the Texas Longhorns didn’t seem too worried about letting Ross loose. After striking first with a field goal on the game’s opening drive, UT kicked the possession over to Oklahoma. What happened next resulted in Crimson-clad pandemonium.
This play marked the first time since 1917 that a Sooner returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Red River Shootout, and boy was it a beauty. Ross wasted zero movements while blazing up the middle of the field, and by the time the Longhorns knew what hit them, he was but a blur in the distance. And in the end, the Crimson & Cream ran home with a 31-26 victory.
Although Samaje Perine was Oklahoma’s bell cow on offense that season, it was Ross who provided OU with an electric wild card in the third phase of the game. Over the course of 13 games that year, he amassed 718 return yards and two return TDs on 23 attempts. His average of 31.2 yards per return ranked third in the FBS. Finally, after spending three seasons of his collegiate career in Norman, Ross transferred to Missouri in 2016 where he played out his senior year.
If history is any indication, it might be a while before anybody sees another Oklahoma player return a kickoff for a touchdown inside the Cotton Bowl, but at least Sooner fans will be able to marvel at this one in the meantime.
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