College Football
Red River Showdown: With Quinn Ewers back, Texas blows out Oklahoma
College Football

Red River Showdown: With Quinn Ewers back, Texas blows out Oklahoma

Updated Oct. 9, 2022 1:31 a.m. ET

By Laken Litman
FOX Sports College Football Writer

DALLAS — This was the statement Texas needed, and the one Oklahoma didn’t.

After what happened in this game last year during Steve Sarkisian’s first season as the Longhorns' head coach, his program needed some offseason validation. Some kind of affirmation that everything they did during the offseason and in fall camp — from the conditioning program to the competitiveness and physicality demanded in practice — has been worthwhile.

Complete domination of your greatest rival, even if that rival is in a down year, is a pretty good hint that things are clicking.


Texas flat-out embarrassed Oklahoma, 49-0, in the 118th rendition of the Red River Showdown on Saturday. It was OU’s worst shutout loss in history, and its first since 1998 against Texas A&M. It was also the Sooners’ worst loss since a 69-7 loss to Nebraska in 1997. 

For the Longhorns, it was the program’s biggest win ever over the Sooners and their biggest win over a Power 5 team since 2007 (56-3 over Iowa State).

This was also Texas’ first win against OU since the 2018 season and the first for nearly every player on the roster. Was it better than they could have imagined?

"It was great showing how dominant we can be," said wide receiver Jordan Whittington, who caught five passes for 97 yards. "This is just a magical win.

"I’m about to go get a funnel cake with ice cream on it."

Whittington planted the extra, extra, extra large UT flag — the one that the cheerleaders wave in the end zone after touchdowns — at midfield following the final whistle, defying anyone who has ever downplayed the importance of a historic college football rivalry such as this one.

"I had to let the message be known that this is our state," he said. "When you win this game, you gotta put it down and let them know whose state this is."

The Sooners might be in a rebuilding year under new coach Brent Venables, but that only meant it was even more crucial for Texas to take advantage. The Longhorns owned every phase of the game: the offense put up 585 total yards and established a physical, downhill running game early; the defense pitched a shutout, didn’t allow explosive plays and intercepted a pair of passes.

Starting quarterback Quinn Ewers made his highly anticipated return, going 21 of 31 for 289 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. We had not seen him since he left a Week 2 loss to Alabama in the first quarter with a sprained clavicle. 

And the redshirt freshman picked up right where he left off. Yes, Hudson Card was more than a viable backup the past few weeks, but Ewers came out and took his job back. Sarkisian said he didn’t let his quarterbacks know who was starting until Thursday.

"The hardest part about not playing quarterback is not the physical part, it’s the mental part [because of] the nuances in our system," Sarkisian said. "We change tempos quite a bit, we huddle, we shift, we motion, we go fast, we do a lot of different things that don't seem like much [on the] outside but in our world are big deals. Sometimes those are the hardest things to get mastered when you're coming back.

"I thought, as the week went on, Quinn was much more dialed into it, and it showed."

For not playing in a live game since Sept. 10, Ewers impressively lacked rust. His talent was on full display. He slung the ball around with velocity like a veteran and got out to a fast start, completing 14 of 16 passes to put the Horns up 21-0 early. Sarkisian said "Quinn was spot on" and had "the ball going where it was supposed to go on time." It helped, too, that his playmakers showed up. Five different Longhorns scored touchdowns.

"I have all the confidence in him and trust in him," Whittington said of Ewers. "In any situation, he’s just calm and relaxed the whole time. His poise is unmatched. You never really have to worry about the moment being too big for him. 

"I mean, if you went to war with somebody, and you look at him, and he’s all freaking out, you probably freak out. If you’ve got Quinn at war with you, you're just chillin'." 

Ewers grew up a die-hard Longhorns fan and dreamed of playing in this game. To recover from his injury in time to start at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday was huge on a personal level.

"When coach told me [I was starting], I was like, ‘It’s time to go,’" Ewers said. 

Texas went three-and-out on its opening drive but found a rhythm after converting a third-and-2 and finishing off a 90-yard drive with a touchdown on the next possession. 

Texas controlled the tempo the rest of the day. 

Oklahoma ranks last in the Big 12 in rushing defense, and Texas showed why. The Longhorns ran for 296 yards, with star running back Bijan Robinson getting 130 of those, making this his fourth straight 100-yard game. He also scored two touchdowns.

In this game last season, Texas held a double-digit lead in the second half but ended up losing, 55-48. The Longhorns proceeded to lose their next six games and finish the season 5-7. Earlier this week, Sarkisian said that team was immature and lacked the necessary poise and composure. So it wasn’t lost on this group that even though it held a 28-0 lead at halftime, this would be a four-quarter game. Veteran players reminded young guys of that in the locker room.

"This was my first time winning this game," said Whittington, a junior. "We needed it."

"You want to build off it," he added. "We wanted 50 points."

Oklahoma’s defense has been a mess all season and Saturday wasn’t any different. The Sooners didn’t get pressure on Ewers and lacked the intensity they normally show in this matchup. The Sooners have now lost three straight games to Kansas State, TCU and Texas, giving up 145 points and 1,762 total yards in the process. 

Offensively, OU had five different players line up at quarterback with starter Dillon Gabriel still in concussion protocol. Gabriel, who took a blow to the head on a late hit last week against TCU, stood on the sideline Saturday in his jersey and shorts. 

Davis Beville, a transfer from Pittsburgh, made his first career start at quarterback for OU, but offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby tried to get creative without Gabriel available. In the first quarter, with Texas leading just 7-0 at the time, OU worked Texas by running the wildcat on five straight plays, mostly led by tight end Brayden Willis. Once Oklahoma got inside the Texas 30-yard line, however, they abandoned ship and Beville came back on the field. The drive stalled, even after a nifty fake field goal, and Texas’ defense made a stop on fourth-and-1.

Oklahoma showed a couple of different versions of the wildcat throughout the game, but in the end, the Texas defense did a good job of reading it correctly, like when running back Eric Gray threw a pop pass in the red zone that was intercepted by Jahdae Barron. The Longhorns scored on the next drive and took a 28-0 lead.

It was critical for Texas to win a big game like this in Sarkisian’s second year — it was only his fifth win over a Power 5 opponent. The win also keeps the Horns alive in a wide-open Big 12 race and gives them momentum heading into the bulk of their conference schedule. There are still matchups left against Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, TCU, Kansas and Baylor

For now, the Longhorns will enjoy this win.

"When people ask us about our senior year and what happened in the OU game," said linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, "we’ll tell ‘em."  

Read more:

- College football rankings: Ohio State tightens grip on No. 1

- Heisman Watch: C.J. Stroud steals show with six-TD day

- Even at 6-0, No. 4 Michigan is hard to pin down

- Michigan pulls away to win an emotional game after assistant collapses

- Red River Showdown: With Quinn Ewers back, Texas routs Oklahoma

- College football top plays: All the best from a wild Week 6

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of "Strong Like a Woman," published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.


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