Charlie Strong is in his third season as the Texas coach, but for the past two years, he has been one of the focal points in coaching hot-seat discussions.
This time last year, Strong entered one of the biggest rivalries in college football unsure of his job security. He improved it with a 24-17 upset of No. 10 Oklahoma.
The same can’t be said for this season as Strong was unable to help his cause after No. 20 Oklahoma beat Texas 45-40 on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.
“It’s a tough feeling,” said Strong, who fell to 13-17 with Texas. “Guys on defense can’t give up the big plays. We continue to play hard. We have seven games left, we just have to continue to work and get better.”
Strong, a defensive coordinator from 1999-2009 with South Carolina and Florida, didn’t help matters when he took over defensive play-calling from defensive coordinator Vance Bedford this week, only to see the Sooners put up 672 yards, most allowed by the Texas defense this season.
However, Texas (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) played well defensively in the first half, trailing 14-13 at the break.
Dylan Haines picked off Baker Mayfield twice after Texas, which had not intercepted a pass this season. In all, the Longhorns forced four turnovers after coming into the game with only takeaway.
“Obviously turnovers kept this game the way it was,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “We were fortunate to be able to lose the turnover battle like we did and still win.”
Mayfield connected with Dede Westbrook for a 71-yard touchdown pass with 4:02 left in the second quarter, giving Oklahoma a 14-10 lead.
Texas, which led 10-7 on D’Onta Foreman’s 1-yard run early in the second, regained the lead 20-14 with 13:47 left in the third quarter on a 63-yard touchdown pass from Shane Buechele to Devin Duvernay.
The Sooners (3-2, 2-0) went up 21-20 on Westbrook’s 42-yard reception 58 seconds later.
“It was great, just being out there with my brothers and being able to compete at the best of my abilities,” said Westbrook, who finished with 10 catches (an OU record against Texas), 232 yards (single-game OU record) and three touchdowns.
Buechele hit Dorian Leonard for a 45-yard score to put Texas back on top 27-21 with 10:43 in the quarter.
Oklahoma scored 21 consecutive points for a 42-27 lead with 11:53 to play.
Buechele, who finished with 245 yards passing and three touchdowns, threw 10 yards to Armanti Foreman to cut the Sooners’ lead to 42-34 with 10:34 left.
The Sooners then went 60 yards on 15 plays that spanned nearly eight minutes and kicked a field goal to go up 45-34 with 2:36 left.
D’Onta Foreman’s 22-yard touchdown run brought Texas back within 45-40 with 1:45 remaining. He finished with 25 carries, 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Mayfield finished with 390 yards passing, the most by an Oklahoma quarterback against Texas. Perine rushed 35 times for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
“Proud of our players at the way they continued to battle throughout the day,” Stoops said. “Usually, who wins this game is who controls the ball and who runs the ball the best, and overall, I thought we did that.”
UT—FG Domingue 33, 5:21
OU—Perine 2 run (Seibert kick), 1:43
UT—D.Foreman 1 run (Domingue kick), 14:21
OU—Westbrook 71 pass from Mayfield (Seibert kick), 4:02
UT—FG Domingue 28, :00
TEX—De.Duvernay 63 pass from Buechele (Domingue kick), 13:47
OU—Westbrook 42 pass from Mayfield (Seibert kick), 12:49
UT—Leonard 45 pass from Buechele (Domingue kick), 10:43
OU—Mayfield 4 run (Seibert kick), 8:13
OU—Westbrook 47 pass from Mayfield (Seibert kick), 5:39
OU—Perine 3 run (Seibert kick), 11:53
UT—A.Foreman 10 pass from Buechele (Domingue kick), 10:34
OU—FG Seibert 39, 2:36
UT—D.Foreman 22 run (pass failed), 1:45
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Oklahoma, Perine 35-214, Mixon 16-48, Mayfield 4-20, B.Evans 0-0. Texas, D.Foreman 25-159, Buechele 11-27, Porter 6-16, Swoopes 4-7, Leonard 0-(minus 12), Heard 0-(minus 17).
PASSING—Oklahoma, Mayfield 22-31-2-390. Texas, Buechele 19-36-1-245.
RECEIVING—Oklahoma, Westbrook 10-232, Mixon 3-12, Lewis 2-26, Miller 2-22, Flowers 2-18, Green 1-51, Andrews 1-29, M.Jones 1-0. Texas, A.Foreman 5-28, De.Duvernay 3-81, C.Johnson 3-44, Joe 2-10, Burt 2-6, Leonard 1-45, Oliver 1-13, Warrick 1-9, Heard 1-9.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Oklahoma, Seibert 49.