DALLAS — Late in the first half Saturday, Oklahoma’s defensive starters slumped to the bench after Texas’ fourth scoring drive in four possessions.
Middle linebacker Kenneth Murray screamed at anyone who made eye contact and some who wouldn’t. Being a Sooners defender in Saturday’s edition of the Red River Showdown was like being the punchline of a viral joke. The embarrassment showed early and often in No. 7 Oklahoma’s 48-45 loss to No. 19 Texas.
The Longhorns, who haven’t exactly been considered an offensive juggernaut over the past decade, didn’t have a turnover and weren’t forced to punt until nearly six minutes had passed in the third quarter.
“As a defense, you’re frustrated when you can’t get a stop,” Murray said. “What I was preaching was to keep fighting. We came into the game and got hit with adversity.”
History might remember the 2018 edition as one of the most exciting offensive shootouts in the storied rivalry’s history. But OU defenders won’t see it that way and shouldn’t. Saturday was a 3½-hour nightmare of their own creation.
Texas’ first four touchdown drives were all 75 yards or longer. The only stand was when the Sooners held Texas to a 44-yard field goal after Kyler Murray threw the game’s lone interception.
Everything else resembled a precise offensive march aided by some missed tackles, lackluster coverage and a few pass interference calls.
OU’s defense looked like a constant mix of puzzled and tired until that 21-point fourth-quarter rally.
“We’re all supposed to be on the same page. Most people got on different pages and you could see the frustration,” cornerback Tre Brown said. “We’re a team and we’re brothers and we picked it up very late. We should’ve been doing that the whole time. We didn’t come together until the second half.”
The Longhorns (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) twice turned third downs longer than 18 yards into fourth-and-shorts they then converted in the second and third quarters.
In the second quarter, Texas tight end Andrew Beck slid behind the Sooners’ linebackers for an 18-yard catch to set up the fourth-and-short scenario.
In the third quarter, Texas receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey took a short slant and lugged a quartet of OU defenders for a 19-yard gain.
It was another big-game performance in which the defensive deficiencies eclipsed the offensive efficiency the Sooners displayed. Dating back to last season’s Rose Bowl, OU has played two games against ranked teams, scored 45 points in both — and lost both games.
“It’s very frustrating when a team like Texas keeps pounding you and you don’t do nothing about it,” cornerback Parnell Motley said. “The first half was rough. We went back at halftime and talked things over. The second half, we kind of picked it up and in the fourth quarter. That shouldn’t have happened. We should have had that all day and dominated all day and we wouldn’t have been in that predicament.”
But the Sooners were in another game. Saturday was supposed to be OU’s statement that it had solved its defensive woes and was truly ready to contend for a national championship. Instead, the red flags waved because OU’s defense flunked another test.