Texas walked into the Cotton Bowl with no shot to beat the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners, and walked out of the Red River Shootout with a 36-20 victory. Leading 36-13 early in the fourth quarter, Mack Brown's Longhorns played a brand of football that has been absent from this rivalry, and Texas' program, for the last few seasons.
The win will not keep Brown in Austin long-term, but he can leave holding his head high, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller notes:
This was a game circled by people on both sides. As defensive coordinator Greg Robinson relayed to New OK:
You know what? It's Oklahoma week. I would have to think that every year this is the game that you want to play. This is what it's all about, and the pressure of wanting to win and beat them is exciting.
And it certainly was exciting, as offensive coordinator Major Applewhite showed a strong commitment to the run game, feeding Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown the ball in big doses. The physical run game opened up the pass game and saw Case McCoy go 13-for-21 for 190 yards, two touchdowns and some big plays to Marcus Johnson and Mike Davis.
Back-to-back Red River Shootout losses had given Oklahoma a combined 118-38 scoring edge over the Longhorns. The wins saw the Sooners get out to a hot start and mentally break Brown's team early in the contest, which was more important than the margin of victory.
This weekend, Texas did the breaking. Greg Robinson's defense flew around to the football and tackled well. The unit forced turnovers, brought pressure to quarterback Blake Bell and made the critical stops. Bob Stoops' Sooners were just 2-for-13 on third-down conversions, a testament to Robinson's defense working the plan.
Barring a minor miracle of sorts, Mack Brown is not going to keep his job. However, seeing his players rally together to help the senior class get its first win over Oklahoma gives Brown reason to hold his head high. The Longhorns, a team left for dead following losses to BYU and Ole Miss, sit at 3-0 in the Big 12, with plenty to play for.
Unlike other coaches that have been unceremoniously cast off by prestigious programs, Brown is going to walk out of Austin with the respect of the people. He is still the coach that returned Texas to prominence, brought the school a BCS Championship, oversaw a Heisman winner's campaign in his first season and put Texas in three, non-title BCS bowl games.
Brown will not leave Austin devoid of talent as so many coaches do, gambling on JUCO players and burning recruiting bridges. There is talent in the program and recruiting connections that will help any new coach succeed. By all accounts, despite his missteps in games, Brown has done the Texas program right.
Now, with the big win in the Red River Shootout, Brown's team has given the program a boost. The team played fired-up football and reminded folks of what a big-time win over not just a rival, but a Top 15 team, feels like. He did his job again and made Texas fans proud.
And for that reason—everything he's given to this program, including this big win—there will be no shame when he walks away from the job.