Oklahoma proves its offensive firepower is much more than just Jalen Hurts in win over Texas
CeeDee Lamb and Kennedy Brooks were major assets in Oklahoma's win over Texas
DALLAS -- On a day when Oklahoma's third-straight Heisman Trophy contending quarterback had a minor setback, two other stars picked up the slack.
To be clear, there was nothing pedestrian about quarterback Jalen Hurts in No. 6 Oklahoma's 34-27 win over No. 11 Texas. Hurts still racked up a team-best 131 yards rushing and tallied four total touchdowns. He got his numbers. But with two brutal red zone turnovers -- one fumble and one unnecessary interception -- even Hurts admitted after the game that he didn't put his team in the best spot on Saturday afternoon. And, to be clear, the Sooners clung to a 10-3 halftime lead. If the Red River Showdown has ever proven anything, it's that the game can change in one play.
Texas tried everything against Oklahoma's offense, both zone and man coverage. As it turned out, trying to man-up Lamb on the outside was a mistake by Texas to the damage of 10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns. Though no other Sooners wideout had more than three catches -- OU was also without starting tight end Grant Calcaterra -- it always felt like they had an advantage in open space.
"I would say that for all our wide receivers, too, not just me," Lamb said of being singled up. "I like all my receivers one-on-one with anybody ... but me especially. And if coach Riley likes what he sees, he's going to throw that in the game plan."
Getting Lamb the ball was putting their best offensive player in position to succeed -- and, yes, Lamb is arguably Oklahoma's best player there. Two of his three touchdowns on the day-- at least not without insane individual efforts. The first, on a well-designed and executed flea-flicker, gave Oklahoma a 17-10 lead. Lamb was all alone along the near side of the field when he tracked the ball and evaded not one, not two, but five Texas defenders for the score.
Take your shots at Texas' tackling if you will -- and you would be right to -- but Lamb's evasiveness is perhaps the best part of his game. But on this particular play, the effectiveness of the run meant Lamb got lost in the secondary. "I was looking around, wondering where everyone was," Lamb told reporters about his catch.
On Lamb's second improbable touchdown, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound wideout showed that he's not just speed and wiggle. He's got toughness, too. Lamb took what would have been a surefire tackle and instead powered through for six. Again, Texas' poor tackling aside, it's going to take more than arms to bring down Lamb.
The terrifying thing about Lamb, according to Brooks, is that he can still get so much better. "The best part about his game is his work ethic," Brooks said. "He's out there every day in practice giving it his all. He can be so, so much better."
Brooks should give himself some credit, too. His 107 yards was tops among all running backs on the day. His 10 touches could have -- and should have -- been higher given the level of efficiency at which he was playing. He was particularly deadly on sweeping plays to the perimeter.
Coming into Saturday, Brooks had just 25 carries for 206 yards and a score. On less than a dozen touches, he increased that production by nearly 50 percent. That, ultimately, is the toughest part about Oklahoma's offense: there are so many weapons that, in any given week, one or more of them can light it up when all other options seem to be taken away. Hurts may be the only constant in that he touches the ball on every play, but breakout performances like Saturday mean basically a three-man show on offense.
"They have got really good players," Texas coach Tom Herman said. "They have recruited really, really well over the years, and they have developed those guys."
Hurts is still in the Heisman conversation. He may still get an invite to New York at the end of the season. He's the quarterback on one of the best offenses in college football. That's how the game works. But if you're asking who among Oklahoma's weaponized offense is the most dangerous?
Well, you saw two of them on Saturday.
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