It was a great day for Texas runners, on both sides of the ball. Running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown each topped 100 rushing yards, and defensive tackle Chris Whaley, who was recruited by the Longhorns as a running back, had a game-changing interception return for a touchdown in a 36-20 win over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry.
Whaley dropped into coverage as UT brought pressure on third down and intercepted a flat-footed throw by Sooners quarterback Blake Bell, taking it 31 yards the other way and stretching the ball over the goal line for an early 10-3 lead.
That advantage allowed UT to lean on Gray (123 yards on 29 carries) and Brown (120 yards on 23 carries) and bludgeon an OU front seven that looked rattled without linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Mix in a couple of deep balls from quarterback Case McCoy to Marcus Johnson and Mike Davis for scores,and UT easily picked up its first victory in the series since 2009.
All of UT's top players contributed to a result that takes pressure off embattled head coach Mack Brown and makes his goal of a Big 12 title, which seemed impossible after losses to BYU and Ole Miss, a realistic proposition. Versatile wide receiver/running back Daje Johnson returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown, while defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat had two sacks in a simplified and aggressive defensive game plan.
It helped that OU never featured Bell as a main component of its ground game to make UT show it could stop the zone-read, designed quarterback runs or scrambles. Instead, Bell was erratic as a drop-back passer, going 12-of-26 passing for 133 yards and zero touchdowns with two interceptions.
The operating assumption coming into the game was that UT wouldn't have any answers for OU at the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball, as had been the case in the previous three meetings. Instead, the tables were turned, and UT ran wild to save its season.