Latest defeat to OU demoralizing

Updated: October 12, 2003, 8:26 AM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN The Magazine

DALLAS -- The body language said it all. Hands on hips. Heads drooped like willow branches. A shuffling, dead-man-walking look to them.

And this was at halftime.

Welcome to the living, breathing nightmare that is Texas Longhorns football. Another year, another loss to hated rival Oklahoma, this time by a 65-13 score that had Texas coach Mack Brown blaming himself for everything except the taste of those State Fair corny dogs served just outside the Cotton Bowl.

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The top-ranked Sooners had plenty to celebrate in their 65-13 victory over No. 11 Texas in the Red River Shootout.
"I have to go back and look at me," said Brown, who must lug that Can't Win The Big Game ball and chain for at least another season. This was his worst defeat in his 69-game career in Austin.

This one was so bad that Texas mascot Bevo was bored stiff, taking a seat on his patch of Astroturf in the Longhorns end zone as No. 1-ranked OU completed the rare Red River Shootout four-peat. Meanwhile, UT fans began to bolt toward the Cotton Bowl exits before the third quarter was finished. Who could blame them? By then a first-period 7-7 score had turned into an OU 37-13 halftime lead, then a 51-13 Sooners advantage, then. . . well, does it really matter?

What fans did remain at least had a sense of humor. UT students seated about 10 yards behind the Sooners bench caught the attention of true freshman John Williams, a reserve defensive end who likely will be redshirted.

"Hey, 98," yelled one student decked out in burnt orange, "you'd start at Texas!"

Pleaded another: "Transfer!"

Williams is staying put, as are the Sooners atop the polls. They've now scored 50 or more points in four consecutive games, a school first. Their defense put the glove on a Texas offense that previously led the nation in scoring. OU's Mark Clayton set a school record for receiving yards (190) and had a career-high 135 yards by halftime.

Quarterback Jason White had four touchdown passes, completing 17-of-21 attempts for 290 yards. Cornerback Derrick Strait, who is from Austin and was recruited by Texas, had a career-high 11 tackles and an interception.

On and on it went. The victory was so thorough, so complete that Texas players didn't bother with indignation.

"They whupped us today," said UT linebacker Derrick Johnson. "They whupped us."

As the Longhorns made a beeline for their locker room, OU players and staff lingered on the Cotton Bowl field. White, Strait, linebacker Teddy Lehman, among others, ran along the sideline wall and exchanged high-fives with Sooner fans. The Red River Shootout Trophy was carried to near midfield, where a team photo was taken, scoreboard in the backround. There were smiles and downward hook-'em gestures. Moments later, OU coach Bob Stoops got a hug from school president David Boren.

Stoops knows the importance of this win. The Sooners improve to 6-0. They also further distance themselves from a Texas program that wants to be OU when it grows up. Recruiting, prestige and something as simple as bragging rights are all at stake. Of course, Stoops paid homage to the Texas program, its players, its coaching staff, etc. But when someone asked if OU were better coached than the Longhorns, Stoops' grin disappeared.

"You're not going to get anybody here comparing coaches," he said. And later: "I'd rather you not ask questions like that."

Texas players and coaches played nice in the days leading up to the game, nearly tripping over their chin straps and whistles as they complimented the top-ranked Sooners. But it was diplomacy, nothing more. The Longhorns want to beat OU the way frat boys want to guzzle Bud.

Politeness gave way to a nice little pregame skirmish at midfield. Who knows how it started, but game officials and security personnel had to separate OU and UT players, and then stand guard between the two sides as the teams completed warmups. And things remained testy throughout the game, unless, of course, it was a complete accident that White was still zinging touchdown passes late in the third quarter, or that the starting OU defensive unit was still in the game early in the fourth period -- and blitzing redshirt freshman quarterback Vince Young -- or that OU backup QB Paul Thompson was tossing screens and slant passes midway through the final period.

Young, who replaced starter Chance Mock early in the first period, might have been the lone bright spot for a Texas. He rushed for 127 yards and one touchdown. He completed 11-of-21 passes for 135 yards. But he also threw two interceptions, was sacked twice, and fumbled once.

"Right now I'm ready to move on to the next game," Young said.

That's what Brown said too: the Longhorns new season starts now. It's a nice thought, but the season UT wanted -- a run at a national championship -- is officially in the BCS morgue.

Oklahoma's title run is alive and well, though don't mention polls or the BCS to Stoops.

"We spend no time with that," he said.

That's now. Keep this up and Stoops and the Sooners won't be able to ignore it any longer.

Gene Wojciechowski is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. He can be reached at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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