Oklahoma coach Brent Venables wasn’t worried about all the pomp and pageantry, ebbs and flows, big plays and fried, well, everything, in this year’s Red River Rivalry. Instead, he told his team to “embrace the chaos.”
Chaos was everywhere Saturday.
Quinn Ewers threw picks on two of his first six passes, then completed 19 straight.
Oklahoma’s special teams unraveled in spectacular fashion.
The Sooners’ defensive front engineered havoc at the line of scrimmage.
Dillon Gabriel threw for 285 yards, ran for 113 and looked as much a magician as a quarterback.
There were seven lead changes and three ties.
And in the most chaotic moment, when Texas grabbed a lead on a 47-yard field goal with 1:17 to play, Venables’ team was cool as a cucumber. (Albeit a fried cucumber covered in chocolate and powdered sugar, we assume.)
It was the type of game where, when it’s over, you just want to drive the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile out into the middle of the desert, play the bongos naked, and ponder whether time is a human construct or simply the nature of a simulated universe that we’re all living in. Or, you know, whatever Matthew McConaughey has planned for the rest of the night.
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) October 7, 2023
Gabriel took his team 75 yards on five plays in just 1:02, dodging pressure in his face on one last heave into the back of the end zone to Nic Anderson for a game-winning touchdown in an absolutely epic send-off to the Big 12 — or was it an early welcome to the SEC? — at the Cotton Bowl.
A year ago, Oklahoma was annihilated, embarrassed and overwhelmed in a 49-0 loss to Texas.
On Saturday, the Sooners moved to 6-0 on the season, and delivered a devastating blow to Texas’ immense hopes for 2023.
Here’s the part where we make the joke about Texas disappointing again. You know the drill. Nearly every year, we all get excited that Texas is back, even if, in the back of our minds, we’re certain that return to the national conversation will be short-lived.
Every year we embrace its return out of some sense of loyalty or nostalgia, eager to recall a simpler time, only to spend some sad October Saturday doubled over in pain, sobbing and begging God’s forgiveness for dedicating ourselves to this wretched abomination of disparate parts that was never intended to be consumed by the masses.
Dillon Gabriel shines as Oklahoma picks up thrilling win over Texas
After Texas takes the lead late, Dillon Gabriel comes up huge on the final drive, giving Oklahoma the Red River Rivalry win.
Basically, Texas is the McRib of college football.
And yet, that doesn’t feel right this time around. This wasn’t the usual embarrassment of losing to Kansas or blowing a 21-point fourth-quarter lead or texting a disgraced Ohio State assistant “OK, cool. Hook ’em” or “Horns Down” chants or pet monkeys hell-bent on attacking innocent trick-or-treaters. This was a loss, but somehow felt like a step forward — a game in which Texas proved worthy of the hype, just a little less explosive than the Sooners.
On the Crimson side of the Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma had its own share of questions to answer. Venables took over a program that, if it wasn’t at the true precipice of college football’s elite, it was certainly close. Then the Sooners went 6-7 in Year 1, Gabriel missed his first Red River game and the whispers of the Sooners’ step backwards as they prepared for a 2024 move to the SEC grew from whispers to a low grumble.
But this year was going well. Oklahoma won its first five games, all by at least two touchdowns, but all against entirely pedestrian competition. Saturday was a true test, one filled with emotion and pressure and, yes, chaos.
Well, Venables eats chaos for breakfast. (Also, Cookie Crisp.)
There’s a script where Texas won Saturday, where Oklahoma’s missteps on special teams and Ewers’ late heroics coalesced into a dramatic victory in which the masses really would’ve argued, preached, believed that Texas was, indeed, back.
There’s another script, though, where those special teams struggles never materialized, where Oklahoma cashed in with a TD on that long drive before the half, where all the things that went against them went the other way and it was a Sooners blowout.
Neither ended up true, and that’s good, because this game was the type of chaos this season needed.
Texas needed to take a punch — maybe five or six — and show it was tough enough to keep getting off the mat. It did, even in a losing effort.
Oklahoma needed to make a few mistakes in order to show that this team had grown from the immature, inconsistent, unreliable group that lost seven games a year ago. Indeed, the Sooners showed they had not just grown, but had internalized those tough lessons and emerged as something more than just talented or experienced or, well, good.
They’re survivors, and chaos feels just like home for a team like that.
LSU wins a shootout
Such is life with the SEC’s most exasperating defense.
Cook threw for 411 yards — including 149 to Luther Burden III — and Missouri led 22-10 at one point, but Cook’s streak of 365 straight pass attempts without an interception was snapped on a ridiculously athletic grab by Harold Perkins Jr. in the second quarter. Cook also threw a pick-six at the game’s end, and Perkins later foiled Lex Luthor’s scheme rob Fort Knox.
Harold Perkins Jr. leaps up and picks off Brady Cook for an LSU INT
Brady Cook’s SEC-record 366 pass attempts without an interception comes to an end at the hands of LSU’s Harold Perkins Jr.
If you’re counting — and, frankly, we hope you have access to a quantum computer if you are — LSU has allowed 94 points and 1,233 yards in its past two games. Of course, it has also accounted for 98 points and 1,170 yards of offense.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, LSU games have now gone over the betting point total 10 straight times and, according to governor Kim Reynolds, all Bayou Bengals games will come with an explicit content warning when shown in Iowa.
Where’s _hi_ State’s O?
If Week 5 was the moment we were all forced to ask whether Georgia was the elite team we’d come to expect in 2023, Week 6 raised the same questions about Ohio State.
Yes, the Buckeyes ultimately cruised past Maryland 37-17 by scoring the game’s final 27 points, but with TreVeyon Henderson out and the run game scuffling, there were more than a few moments Saturday when Ohio State’s offense, which looked as explosive as any in the country on paper, appeared woefully short of weapons.
Of course, one of those weapons was Marvin Harrison Jr., which is like saying you’re short on cash aside from that trillion-dollar bill in your back pocket.
For the game, Ohio State averaged 1.9 yards per rush. (That’s bad.)
Harrison, on the other hand, averaged 20.4 yards per catch. (That’s good.)
Kyle McCord targeted Harrison 15 times — more than half of his 29 throws — for eight catches and 163 yards. The rest of the offense, total, managed just 219 yards on 47 plays.
It’s entirely possible we’ve yet to see anything close to the full artillery at Ohio State. Henderson’s health matters, and the ground game will have better days. It may be Ohio vs. the world, but it certainly doesn’t have to be Harrison doing all the fighting.
But in this year’s Big Ten, there’s not much margin for error, and Ohio State’s offense — 23 points vs. woeful Indiana, 17 vs. a strong Notre Dame — needs to find a new gear if it’s going to survive the remainder of a season that still features dates with Penn State, at Wisconsin and at the Big House.
Another Eagles escape
Just looking for a little drama on Saturday? Boston College games are basically one long episode of “Lost” — strange, inexplicable, poorly plotted but seriously enthralling.
Through six weeks, the Eagles are 3-3. All three wins, including Saturday’s 27-24 squeaker against Army, have come by three points. Two of the three losses have also come by a field goal or less.
Basically, the “C” in BC stands for “cardiologist.”
BC lost its opener in OT after storming back from a 21-7 deficit in the fourth quarter.
It took a top-five Florida State team to the wire, only to be stopped by a brutal late flag.
It nearly blew a 10-point lead against Holy Cross. It erased a 21-7 deficit against Virginia to win.
And Saturday, Thomas Castellanos‘ fourth touchdown run of the game gave BC another win, just moments after Army had seemed to put the game away with a long TD pass called back by a penalty.
Struggling Georgia Tech, UConn, Virginia Tech and Pitt are all left on the schedule, so BC certainly has a path toward a bowl game, if it can avoid quite so much drama moving forward. Or it can follow the “Lost” formula, drag things out to the final week against Miami, and then get eaten by a smoke monster.