THE TIPPING POINT at this year's Red River Rivalry? The precise moment when this game got away from Oklahoma for good? ¶ It was right around the time Mack Brown flashed the peace sign. Actually, his team having taken a 36--35 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Texas coach was calling for a two-point conversion. Spying a wide-open Quan Cosby in the back right of the end zone, quarterback Colt McCoy rifled a Papelbonian bullet in the direction of his senior wide receiver, who did not, on this rare occasion, make a clean catch. ¶ Rather, the ball ricocheted off his sternum, spinning end over end into the warm autumn air, inviting yet another momentum swing in a game already stuffed with them. How long did that ball hang in the firmament?
"Uncomfortably long," judged Christopher Ainley, a senior cymbalist in the Longhorn Band, who stood, with his fellow cymbalists, roughly 10 feet from where Cosby camped out under the ball.
So long, Cosby recounted, that he fought the urge to signal for a fair catch.
Long enough for McCoy to get slightly ticked off. Don't wait for it to come down, he recalled thinking. Jump up an' GIT IT!
Chillax, Colt. Cosby had the situation under control, calmly snagging the pass before a defender could even lay a hand on him. Thus did Texas take both a 38--35 lead and whatever remained of Oklahoma's mojo.
The fifth-ranked Longhorns took down the No. 1 team in the land—the final was 45--35—because in this clash of elite quarterbacks, McCoy came up bigger than Sam Bradford, regardless of what their stat lines had to say. Against a defense that is flat-out loaded, the junior led Texas to three touchdowns and a field goal on its final four possessions.
To the delight of Burnt Orange Nation and the mild trepidation of Brown—who enjoyed hiding in tall grass at No. 11, where Texas started the season—the 6--0 Longhorns were duly elevated to the top spot in the AP poll. The Sooners dipped to fourth in the nation, and fourth in the Big 12 South.
The Longhorns' most momentous post--Vince Young victory was made possible by the extraordinary efforts of two rather ordinary looking receivers. Cosby and fellow wideout Jordan Shipley have never evoked comparisons with Lynn Swann and John Stallworth—or even Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson, Oklahoma's flyboy receivers—but on Saturday in Dallas they combined for 20 catches (nine for Cosby, 11 for Shipley), repeatedly moved the chains and delivered this message to the Sooners: We're not going away.
Befuddled for much of the first half, the Texas defense was forced to learn on the fly how to cope with the hurry-up offense run by Bradford, who threw for 387 yards and five touchdowns (compared with McCoy's 277 and one). As Texas defensive end Brian (Rak) Orakpo established dominance over Sooners left tackle Phil Loadholt, Bradford became increasingly skittish in the pocket, and understandably so. Rak and linebacker Sergio Kindle rocked Bradford's world on several occasions, and the sophomore threw two critical interceptions. (McCoy had none.) Texas took the Sooners' best shots, but when the Longhorns commenced counterpunching, it was Oklahoma's defense that could not get off the field.
Come to think of it, neither defensive coordinator had a great day. The 80 combined points set a record for the 108-year-old series. Playing in a gussied-up Cotton Bowl before a record crowd of 92,182, Texas prevailed in one of the most entertaining games in the history of this blood grudge because, well, someone had to set the tone for another insurrection-intensive Saturday, when another batch of top five teams bit the dust.