Senior College Football Columnist

Sooners' Texas trouncing has hallmarks of past Red River routs


DALLAS -- At the end of a historic rout of Texas, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione turned to a historic figure next to him on the floor of the Cotton Bowl.

"You started this," Castiglione told former All-American safety Roy Williams.

While Williams didn't exactly start this -- a 55-17 smothering of Texas on Saturday in the Red River Shootout -- the former OU star did help give the series a personality during the Stoops-Brown era. Ten years ago, Williams, then nicknamed "Superman" for his freakish athleticism, made the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was his flying-through-the-air blitzing strip of Texas quarterback Chris Simms that helped clinch a 14-3 win.

That had come a year after Williams played in a 63-14 blowout of Texas. He was gone by the time the Sooners followed up with a 65-13 torching in 2003, but the connection between then and Saturday wasn't missed by his coach. When the Sooners are at their best in this game, Texas comes out not only with a black eye but a bruised ego.

"I was thinking of that," said Bob Stoops after one of the most satisfying wins of career. "It's similar to those, definitely -- really great defense and big turnovers and touchdowns."

Stoops was reminded of the biggest similarities between 2000 and 2003. His Sooners played in the national championship game both years, winning the coach's "only" national championship in 2000.

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"We have a long road yet," Stoops cautioned. "Hopefully, [the season] will end that way."

The 50-year-old coach is now 8-5 against Mack Brown in a series that has surpassed Bo and Woody's Ten Year War by three years. But this year was different. Everyone knew coming in that Oklahoma was national-title material. Few knew that Texas, judging by Saturday, was this bad.

Earlier character-building wins against BYU and UCLA for the 'Horns ended up being false positives against Oklahoma's awesomeness. Texas secondary coach Duane Akina called Texas' first four wins "quizzes" compared to Saturday's "midterm."

Heisman contender Landry Jones passed his test. Oklahoma's quarterback was only above average with three touchdowns and 367 yards. It was the Stoops defense Williams helped make famous that blasted the Longhorns back to the Stone Age.

The 55 points and 38-point margin of victory will make it seem like Oklahoma engaged in style pointing. Not with a school-record three defensive touchdowns and a school-record-tying eight sacks against Texas' two-headed quarterback, David Ash and Case McCoy.

Cornerback Demontre Hurst put the first half out of reach with a 55-yard interception return. Defensive lineman David King scooped up a fumble and returned it 19 yards at the beginning of the third quarter. Another corner, Jamell Fleming, went 56 yards 3½ minutes into the fourth quarter to cap Oklahoma's scoring.

"You can't have five turnovers and three of them for touchdowns," Brown said. "I don't think I've seen that in many years."

Brown had won four of the previous six meetings in this rivalry stuck together by fried gum -- one of the delicacies at this year's Texas State Fair -- and the two programs' hatred for each other. You know it's bad when the Oklahoma deep snapper, James Winchester, engages in the taunting. Winchester joyfully gave the "Horns down" salute exiting the field.

Brown had carefully rebuilt this team's psyche after last season's 5-7 downturn. He hired two new coordinators -- Bryan Harsin on offense, Manny Diaz on defense -- to infuse youth and new ideas. That 4-0 start had landed the Horns in the top 10 of the coaches poll.

In one afternoon Texas had its self-confidence sawed in half. In the previous four games, Texas had five turnovers. That is as many as they had Saturday.

"I don't think I'm shocked about anything much anymore," Brown said. "I'm disappointed for the players."

The tone was set on the game's first play. Oklahoma All-American Ryan Broyles caught an out route from Jones, turned on freshman cornerback Quandre Diggs and converted it into a 40-yard gain. That highlighted the game's biggest mismatch. Texas plays that freshman and a couple of sophomores in the regular secondary rotation.

"I'm not just going to run out of bounds," Broyles said of the play. "I'm going to try to make something after the catch."

That inexperienced crew went up against arguably the nation's best receivers. Broyles had what, for him, was an average afternoon -- nine catches, 122 yards.

Winning percentage doesn't measure margin of victory, but it was interesting to note that with the loss Texas dropped from third to fifth all-time in that category.

"They'll be back next year with a chip on their shoulder," said King, the OU defensive lineman.

Told that that sounded like Texas' season is over, King quickly clarified himself.

"We don't play them again this year," he said. "Next October we'll be right back here hopefully having this same conversation."

It's easier to remember now that Oklahoma started the season as a consensus No. 1. All it had done since August was drop to No. 3 in the AP poll and lose the media war. Alabama is getting magazine covers. LSU is being compared to Alabama.

The Tide, Sooners and Tigers have clearly separated themselves from the rest of college football. If everything falls right, no one will be screwed. A loser will come out of the Nov. 5 LSU-Alabama game. OU basically controls its own destiny by winning out.

"I think some other people have, rightfully so, been rewarded for big games they played and their schedule," Stoops said. "We were rewarded early for going to Florida State and this one we will be [rewarded].

"People are recognizing when someone has played a good game. I'm good with that."

Clearly, the issue is on the minds of the Sooners even if there are eight weeks left on the regular-season calendar.

"We got some attention today," said King. "I think we turned some heads today."

Turned some heads and moved some hips. Castiglione, the reserved, classy, humble AD, was dancing in the locker room after the historic win. Never mind it was his birthday. There are bigger occasions to celebrate. Texas is down, and for another year in this rivalry, can't get up.

And to be fair, Oklahoma did get one of those regional SI covers in the preseason. But those things are like stale (fried) gum. They quickly lose their flavor unless the hype is backed up in the regular season. The Sooners have done everything asked of them through five games.

"We'll get ours [cover] Jan. 9," said King, who clearly has memorized the date of the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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