Mack Brown's Critics Silenced by Biggest Upset in Red River Rivalry History
Unranked Texas met No. 12 Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, and with 60 minutes of inspired football, the Longhorns flipped the script on both programs' 2013 seasons in a 36-20 win.
It also flipped the script on recent series history. Oklahoma had won the past two Red River Shootouts by a combined score of 118-38, dominating its hated rival and embarrassing it on a national stage.
But this time, Texas did the embarrassing.
Phil Steele has tracked this series since 1997, and according to his numbers, this is the biggest upset in quite some time. It might very well be the biggest upset ever.
Oklahoma was favored to beat Texas by 13.5 points, according to Vegas Insider, and 78 percent of the money was on the Sooners to cover that very big line.
Normally, when an underdog of that magnitude wins outright, fluky plays like turnovers and tipped balls are to blame. But that's not what happened at all. Texas pushed Oklahoma around—on both sides of the ball—and genuinely looked like the better team.
It knocked Oklahoma off its perch and sent it crashing back down to Earth, welcoming it to the gridlock of this year's Big 12. With vultures circling around Mack Brown's job, he delivered an upset for the record books against his most-hated opponent.
According to Taylor Gasper of Orangebloods.com, this was the first time since 1992 that an unranked team had beaten a ranked team in the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry:
The last time unranked Texas upset ranked Oklahoma was 1992, when 2 loss UT beat No. 16 OU 34-24. #OUvsTEX— Taylor Gaspar (@Taylor_Gaspar) October 12, 2013
It happens so infrequently because both of these programs, in a normal season, should enter the Red River Shootout ranked. Only once in this new millennium (since 2000) has the rivalry featured an unranked team vs. a ranked one—and in that meeting, way back in 2005, No. 2 Texas beat unranked Oklahoma 45-12.
The opposite happened on Saturday. The unranked team, Texas, pasted its highly ranked opponent, and it did so on the strength of its defense. The porous unit that folded against BYU and Ole Miss played by far its best game of the season, looking invigorated under recently hired defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.
If Texas Wins the Big 12, Will Mack Brown Keep His Job?
So much for the dysfunction on Texas' sideline.
Say what you will about Brown's poor coaching job this year and the performance of his team on the whole. When a roster this talented starts to struggle, those are viable complaints. But the beleaguered coach silenced critics in Saturday's win, which was a masterpiece in coaching from start to finish.
Texas came out hungrier than Oklahoma, a testament to Brown's ability to lead. Texas found openings in the Sooners defense, a testament to Brown's (and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite's) ability to scheme. And Texas forced Blake Bell to try and beat it through the air, a testament to Brown's ability to take away your strengths and magnify your weaknesses.
Before the game, according to ESPN's Chris Fowler, Brown said he was confident that he would never be fired from Texas:
But even after the win, folks like B/R's Matt Miller—a Texas fan—don't think he has done enough to save his job:
I wouldn't call this a job saving game for Mack Brown. I would call it a legacy game, though. Going out on top over OU.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 12, 2013
Still, the blowouts to BYU and Ole Miss are in the past—and at the end of the day, all they really did was end Texas' always-slim BCS National Championship hopes.
The Longhorns are now 3-0 in a historically weak Big 12, with one true road win, one win over the reigning conference champ and one win over the ostensible league favorite. They get Oklahoma State in Austin and could semi-realistically head to Baylor with an 8-0 conference record on Dec. 7.
Can Brown flip the script one more time, bring this team to the BCS and save a job that—if you listen to the media—was already all but taken from him?
After watching what happened on Saturday, the answer has improved from "Hell no!" to "Why the heck not?"
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