Oklahoma rode an impressive performance from a freshman quarterback and rallied from an early deficit to beat Texas 54-48 Saturday in the latest wild and unpredictable meeting in the Red River Showdown.
With starting quarterback Spencer Rattler missing on easy throws and rattled by the Longhorns’ defense, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley turned to freshman Caleb Williams, a five-star recruit who sparked a furious comeback to keep the Sooners unbeaten and near the front of the College Football Playoff race.
With the score tied at 48 with just over a minute left, Williams and OU went 75 yards in six plays for the win, capped by running back Kennedy Brooks’ 33-yard touchdown run with one second left.
The true freshman threw for 212 yards and two scores and was part of the game’s two biggest highlight-reel moments: his 66-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to cut the Longhorns’ lead to 28-14 and the 52-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Denzel Mims that knotted the score at 41 midway through the fourth quarter.
Texas scored on a 75-yard touchdown on the game’s opening play and led 28-7 after the first quarter. Freshman wide receiver Xavier Worthy finished with 261 receiving yards, second-most in program history, and running back Bijan Robinson had 137 rushing yards.
At a time when defenses have regained a toehold in the Big 12 and as OU has struggled to put up points with consistency, this year’s Red River felt like a return to normal behavior in a rivalry known for outrageous offenses. The 102 combined points set a new Red River record.
The Sooners finished with 662 yards of total offense evenly split between the run and pass: 339 came on the ground and 323 through the air. Texas gained 516 yards, the most OU has allowed in a regular-season game since Nov. 23, 2018.
The inability to capitalize on a torrid start and pull away amid the Sooners’ struggles on offense shows how far Texas has come and how far the Longhorns still have to go under coach Steve Sarkisian.
The win does create a possible quarterback dilemma for Riley, who has had a magic touch with a run of high-profile passers — including a pair of Heisman Trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray — but will for the first time in his tenure need to decide which option gives his team the best chance of reaching the national semifinals.
After a solid but unspectacular 2020 season, Rattler was expected to blossom into a Heisman contender and challenge for one of the top spots in the upcoming NFL draft. Williams was the nation’s top quarterback recruit.
The rivals may meet again in the Big 12 championship game, which will pit the top two finishers in the conference in early December.
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Oklahoma stuns Texas in Red River Showdown with 54-48 comeback win