Oh, Hell Yeah! Texas 45, OU 12

DALLAS -- It's Texas 45, Oklahoma 12, and it's great to be alive! One month ago, the 'Shoe fit in Columbus and now the Horns can add a Golden Hat to its 2005 wardrobe. But before we give well-deserved props to QB Vince Young, WR Billy Pittman and RB Jamaal Charles, let's first give credit where it is richly deserved.

The Longhorn offensive line owned the Sooner-defensive front, the strength of Brent Venable's Crimson D. Texas rolled to 203 yards rushing against a crew that was giving up just 65.2 ypg (NCAA No. 3) heading into this one. The big uglies afforded Young enough time to look for secondary receivers on his way to a 14-of-27 passing, 241 yard-effort while equaling a personal-best three touchdown tosses during the Centennial Game of this ancient rivalry.

During the post-game celebration, a jubilant Young leapt into the arms of adoring fans, first on the east side of the Texas section of the Cotton Bowl, then high-fiving it with members of the Longhorn band tucked away in the north end zone, before blowing kisses and extending hugs to the well-wishers on the west side of the stadium.

"Our fans deserve it," Young said. "They do a whole lot for us and they stick in the game with us. I thought that my running around, messing with them, getting them into it, lets them feel the same thing we're feeling. Just to go up there and touch their hands lets them know we appreciate what they're doing."

The Horns were feeling it all right. The big thud you may have heard at approximately 3:41 p.m. Dallas-time was the gorilla jumping off of Texas coach Mack Brown's back just after his team snapped the five-game losing skid against its arch-rivals to keep alive the dream of a national title, giving the program its fourth (overall).

"The emotions that you have are really the emotions you have for your fans because they've had such a tough time in this series," Brown said. "They've been proud in so many different ways and this (game) didn't allow them to walk with a swagger. You'd like to because this game is really important to these two schools, and I'm responsible for that. These young guys have accomplished so much and haven't gotten proper credit for a lot of things because of this game. It's taken a lot of things away from them."

It was a day when OC Greg Davis trusted the talent enough to call an aggressive game plan and generally tapped into his across-the-board advantage in seasoned talent. And even when he's not turning the page in the playbook, Davis' weapons are so explosive in his arsenal that bread-and-butter (such as the zone read call on Charles' 80-yard run) have go-to-the-distance potential.

"With these guys, you have an opportunity to have some explosives even when they're not designed to be explosives," he said.

Case in point: Charles' 80-yard dash was not only a personal best in his collegiate career but the longest by a Longhorn tailback in the history of the Oklahoma-Texas series. The Sooner defense had just turned a Selvin Young offering -- his fourth fumble of the season in just his first 25 carries --into a 26-yard FG, narrowing the Texas lead 7-6. Charles would answer on the Horns ensuing possession after a Young hand off, cutting (it back), before spinning out of MLB Zach Latimer's grasp, and, well, this is how Charles describes the play: "I tried to zone-read it and I saw the linebacker read me (headed right) so I just cut it back (left). I felt somebody grab me, so I spun, and then broke away."

Charles exited the game midway through the third quarter with a twisted ankle and did not return. He opted for an X-ray exam just to make sure everything was still in one piece.

"It's not bad," he said. "I'll be ready next week."

The true freshman led all rushers with 116 yards on just nine carries as Texas rolled to 444 yards of total offense. In fact, Charles had more yards at halftime (100 on five carries) than the entire Oklahoma offense had all day (77 on 33 carries).

"(Charles) has tremendous speed and he can jump sideways," Brown said. "He doesn't seem to be bothered by the environment around a game like the one at Ohio State. It seems to excite him."

RB Adrian Peterson, held out of practice for most of the week with a high ankle sprain, was primarily a spectator after touching the ball jut three times for 10 yards.

"It had to do with the number of snaps through the week for the reason (Peterson) didn't start," Sooner coach Bob Stoops said. "He was okay down hill but we didn't think he was strong enough side-to-side. We didn't feel that he was going to be as productive as we needed him to be on top of maybe continuing to injure it."

RB KeJaun Jones got the starting nod instead of Peterson but was held to 19 yards on eight attempts. Donta Hickson was OU's leading ground-gainer with 22 yards on five totes. The Sooner coaches tried to jumpstart their ground game by calling designed running plays for QB Rhett Bomar out of a spread offense. When he wasn't running for his life, the RS-freshman was given a chance to make plays with his feet. Bomar netted nine yards on 12 attempts.

I mentioned Friday that this promised to be a huge game for WR Billy Pittman. And, the sophomore took care of business, leading all receivers with 100 yards on just five receptions, none bigger than his 64-yard grab (on an out-and-up pattern) with just 17 seconds remaining until halftime.

"I thought it sent a message that this team was going to be aggressive and play with a lot of confidence throughout the day," Brown noted.

Pittman who was caught from behind in Columbus after his 63-yard gain in the Ohio State game and ribbed by his teammates ever since would still be running away from OU's Reggie Smith, the nearest Sooner DB, and he was a good 10-15 yards behind. Considering how deep the much maligned-Sooner secondary allowed him to drift Pittman would still be running.

"I felt like I had to make a big play just before the half," he said. "I had jumped off-sides right before so I wanted to make a big play. Vince threw a good ball. I mean, that ball just fell right on my chest."

The 24-6 UT halftime advantage in a game so thoroughly dominated by the Longhorn defense could have led some Sooner fans to exit the Cotton Bowl before the start of third quarter.

"The late second quarter was the breaking point for us," OU coach Bob Stoops explained. "It was 14-6 and we thought we had an interception (MLB Zach Latimer's pick was nullified by a pass interference penalty). I'm not questioning the call but they end up going down the field and then the last few seconds of the half they get the touchdown. As opposed to us getting the ball at the 30 and going in, that was a big swing. We were hanging in there and having a chance to make some plays, and then we don't. I thought that was the breaking point and it was tough to overcome."

Pittman was the first 100-yard receiver for Texas against OU since 1999. The game also represented Pittman's first multi-TD game of his collegiate career, also scoring on a 27-yard VY toss at the 5:26 mark of the third quarter.

We are, at last, beholding the emergence of WR Ramonce Taylor. The sophomore submitted a highlight reel leaping TD grab for the second straight week. He set the tone in Saturday's contest as his acrobatic 15-yard scoring reception down the right sideline spotted Texas a 7-0 lead at the end of its opening drive. It was the first scoring drive of 80+ yards against Oklahoma since 2000. Young completed five passes to four different receivers during the 12-play, 82-yard march including a key 22-yard completion to SE Limas Sweed. (A key facet of that long toss was Young's ability to exploit blitzing cornerbacks, something he was unable to do during last year's setback). RT also had a hand in Texas' first scoring drive of the second quarter, turning a crossing pattern into a 22-yard gain on a key 3rd-and-8 play from the Sooner 44. The play helped set up a 37-yard David Pino field goal as Texas started to get separation, 17-6, with 3:46 remaining until the break.

Big D stands for the Longhorn defense on this particular Saturday, as Texas limited a confident Sooner bunch to less than three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust (171 yards on 66 plays). Oklahoma's only TD scoring drive came in the fourth quarter when the contest was already. It covered all of 38 yards after Texas was flagged for two personal fouls following Lendy Holmes' 21-yard KO return. It was the first time in eight possessions this season the Texas D has given up a touchdown drive starting inside their own 40.

Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik unveiled a dime package for the first time this season as his secondary put the clamps on Sooner receivers. Chizik came with well-timed cornerback and safety blitzes, as RCB Cedric Griffin led his tem with 11 stops. WR Travis Wilson, OU's leading receiver heading into the game, tallied just one reception for 8 yards. QB Rhett Bomar, under duress much of the afternoon, finished with 12-of-33 passing for 94 yards and one TD. He was sacked three times and committed two turnovers (INT, fumble).

"Our plan was to get him into situations where he's not comfortable," MLB Aaron Harris said. "We just wanted to get to him and frustrate him. We wanted him to make bad throws and get into trouble. That's how Rod (Wright) got his touchdown."

Oh, yes! You know what's particularly sweet about Wright's 67-yard TD return of a Bomar-fumble after DE Brian Robison absolutely flattened the RS-freshman? We can replace in our collective Burnt Orange psyche that four-year old image of SS Roy Williams flying into QB Chris Simms with the Robison/Wright combo's slobber knocker of a play.

"I was in denial the whole time I was running, the whole time I was in the end zone, and the whole time I was on the sideline celebrating, " Wright laughed. "It sunk in after a while but the whole time it felt like it was unreal. It doesn't happen very often but when we get the ball we want to get into the end zone."

It would be understandable if the Sooner Nation remains in a state of confusion after seeing their team fall to 2-3 for the first time since 1997. The No. 2 Longhorns, meanwhile, upped their record to 5-0 and are still California Dreaming. The Rose Bowl, of course, is the site of the BCS title game and the Horns have now gotten past the two opponents pundits said would be the biggest obstacles on the Longhorn schedule.

Brown's post-game celebration primarily consisted of driving back to Austin, reviewing game film from Saturday and then breaking down footage from Colorado's game against Texas A&M.

"This is the best team we've head in a number of years and we're excited about moving forward from where we are," Brown said. "What we have to do is go back to work and be ready for Colorado."

Kickoff for Texas' game against the Buffaloes is set for 2:30 p.m. (CDT) on ABC-Sports.

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