Oklahoma Pulls off Spectacular Comeback in Logic-Defying Win over Texas

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2021

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks (26) runs in for a touchdown against Texas during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game at the Cotton Bowl, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Dallas. Oklahoma won 54-48. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

There's a fun saying in the college football community: Nobody knows anything. It's not exclusive to our beloved sport, but the sentiment is a simple reminder that bizarre stuff happens.

And, folks, did it ever on Saturday.

You might've thought the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners would beat their rival, the 21st-ranked Texas Longhorns. Perhaps you specified a last-minute scoring drive would send OU to victory at the Cotton Bowl. Both projections would've been entirely reasonable.

But the process? I am confident in saying nobody predicted those 60 minutes of mayhem in Oklahoma's 55-48 win.

It started with Texas receiver Xavier Worthy taking the first offensive snap 75 yards for a touchdown. After the Sooners' opening drive stalled, the Longhorns blocked the punt. Two snaps laternot two minutes into the contestTexas held a 14-0 lead.

When the first quarter ended, the Longhorns owned a 28-7 advantage that included a touchdown from Bijan Robinson, who would later bring back memories of Reggie Bush against Fresno State.

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Oklahoma, meanwhile, had scored one touchdown and lost a combined 11 yards on three other drives. If you believed the Soonerswho entered at 5-0 but with four uncomfortable winswere cooked, we wouldn't have blamed you.

After all, OU head coach Lincoln Riley thought so too.

Spencer Rattler put together a superb 2020 season, but he has struggled this fall. Against the Longhorns, he completed eight of 15 passes for 111 yards and committed two turnovers. The offense mustered 10 points on his six possessionsand a seventh drive ended with backup Caleb Williams running 66 yards for a touchdown.

In short: It was time for a change.

Riley wouldn't have made the switch if he believed Rattler could engineer a comeback. Williams took control of the offense with OU trailing 35-17, entered halftime down 38-20 and faced a 41-23 deficit late in the third quarter.

By now, you understand the comeback is next. But this wasn't a traditional story of the heroic backup QB, even though Marvin Mims' absurd toe-tapping catchthe exact reason Pylon Cam was inventedmade the game seem headed that way.

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Instead, that incredible touchdown grab preceded a moment that assuredly sparked a deluge of delirium among Sooners fans.

Rattler returned.

Still trailing 41-39, Oklahoma needed a two-point conversion to tie. Riley didn't believe Rattler could lead a comeback, but he trusted him to gain three yards. The decision made sense in a vacuum, sure. Rattler undoubtedly ran the most short-yardage reps in practice and would be most comfortable with a play call.

But how could Riley bench Williams, the catalyst, in favor of someone who's been unimpressive all day? All season? The fifth-year coach was inviting an avalanche of criticism.

First, OU fans booed Rattler's presence.

Second, after a completed pass to Drake Stoops, Texas fans booed the game-tying conversion.

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When's the last time a benched QB returned for the most crucial play of the game, executed, then never played another snap? That alone is a mystifying storyline.

Yet, we don't have time to dwell on it.

Logic had already exited the Cotton Bowl several hours earlier, and it was only about to get more outrageous.

On the ensuring kickoff, OU's Caleb Kelly straight up snatched the ball out of Worthy's handsthe kind of fumble recovery you normally only see on high school highlight reels. The takeaway led to Kennedy Brooks' go-ahead 18-yard touchdown run, giving the Sooners a 48-41 edge with 7:10 to play in regulation.

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CALEB KELLY. https://t.co/RkATRUxzYC

To recap, this edition of the Red River rivalry had a major special teams mistake from both programs, a blown 21-point lead, a Catch of the Year candidate and a backup quarterback guiding that comeback but relinquishing his spot for the benched QB on the game-tying play.

All of that happened before Texas' game-tying touchdown and Brooks' game-winning 33-yard scamper when Oklahoma was actually just trying to gain a few yards to set up a field goal.

Chaos. Complete, utter chaos.

Even for college footballa sport replete with nonsensical results and preposterous momentsthis was something new.

You're destined to read headlines that the Caleb Williams era has begun and how he's saved Oklahoma's hopes for the College Football Playoff. You should see tempered praise for Steve Sarkisian's offense, reasonable judgments for Texas' collapse and predictions about what to expect for the rest of 2021.

Remember, though, nobody knows anything.

Nothing except that those 60 minutes in the Cotton Bowl just became legendary.


Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.


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