Kyler Murray isn’t used to losing. It’s not something he’s familiar with.
Murray never lost a game as a starting quarterback at Allen High School, going 43-0 in winning three straight state titles. He lost just once in three starts at Texas A&M in 2015 and, on Saturday, lost for the first time as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback.
Murray and the Sooners almost pulled off an improbable comeback in the fourth quarter, but fell short in a 48-45 loss to Texas in the Red River Showdown at Cotton Bowl Stadium.
“Obviously I’m not used to losing,” Murray said, as he got emotional in a postgame news conference. “It hurts and I am disappointed.”
Murray went silent for at least 10 seconds, fighting back tears and being consoled by coach Lincoln Riley.
“It’s just tough because I feel – I turned the ball over, they didn’t,” Murray said. “I feel like that’s just giving them the advantage when you turn the ball over. I feel like if I didn’t turn the ball over, we would have had a better chance of winning the game.
“Offensively in the first and second half we did a lot of great things. This game is a four-quarter game … it is just tough.”
Murray’s two turnovers turned into 10 points for the Longhorns. He simply tried to do too much on those particular plays.
Murray’s first turnover came in the first quarter when Oklahoma faced a second-and-23 from its own 41. Murray tried to hit Myles Tease with a deep ball, but Texas safety Brandon Jones stayed back, read it perfectly and had an easy interception.
That marked just the third interception thrown by Murray this season.
“Knowing the coverage, knowing the situation, I shouldn’t have tried to fit it in there,” Murray said.
That proved costly as the Longhorns turned it into a field goal.
Murray had another blunder in the third quarter with the Sooners trailing 31-24. Murray tried to extend a play and roll out of the pocket, but lost his footing. He tried to regain his balance by placing the hand with the ball on the ground, but ended up losing the ball in the process.
Texas pounced on it and took over at Oklahoma’s 23. Five plays later, the Longhorns had a 38-24 lead.
“Coach Riley preaches it all the time – ball security in the pocket,” Murray said. “I don’t know how many times he’s told me that, so that one definitely hurts.”
With that being said, Murray also showed why he’s a Heisman hopeful. He put together a remarkable rally in the fourth quarter after the Sooners trailed 45-24 and saw fans head to the exits before the end of the quarter.
Murray led three scoring drives in less than six minutes. He hit Lee Morris for a 19-yard touchdown, scored on a 67-yard run and then OU tied the game on a 7-yard TD run by Trey Sermon.
Murray finished his day 19 of 26 passing for 304 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He also had 92 rushing yards.
“The whole game, I couldn’t see him,” Texas defender Breckyn Hager said, referring to the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Murray.
“He was like a little sliver out of my peripheral vision. I had never seen anything like this. He is a special talent.”
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger had similar praise for Murray, and sought him out after the game. It didn’t seem like the most friendly exchange and Murray declined comment when asked about it.
Said Ehlinger: “I was just going to congratulate him on a great game.”
For Murray, though, Saturday stung. He’s not used to losing. He knows he only has one chance to make his mark in the college game with a professional baseball career with the Oakland Athletics awaiting him.
Murray’s only Red River Showdown didn’t go according to plan and his expressions and answers afterward said it all.
Asked about treating this as his only shot at Texas, Murray said: “I mean honestly, going into this season knowing it might possibly be my last season, every game is a last shot at everyone… so, yeah, I guess so.”