DALLAS — Who saw this coming?
Texas leads Oklahoma 23-10 at halftime, and looks every bit like the better team so far.
Here are some first-half thoughts, notes and statistics as we head into the third quarter.
WHAT STOOD OUT
* NOT the gold jerseys
Even when I was walking around on the field during pregame, I barely noticed the gold on either team’s jersey. Especially Texas’ — the orange jersey makes the gold really hard to notice. If the Longhorns’ lead holds, this would be two straight stunning losses for Oklahoma teams in alternate jerseys. Bob Stoops may never allow this again.
* Third-down conversions
Texas has converted nine of its 12 third-down attempts, while Oklahoma is just 1 of 6 on third downs so far. The OU offense’s third-down struggles have been a recurring problem throughout the season, but they’ve never come back to bite the Sooners like they have so far today. OU must get better on third down to have any shot at a comeback.
* Trey Millard
OU coaches have said for years that Trey Millard was too valuable as a blocker to get very many carries. Right now, he’s gained 24 yards on five carries and was a major factor in the Sooners’ late first-half touchdown drive. But beyond Millard, Oklahoma coaches have dialed up only 16 rushing plays, compared to 12 pass attempts, and a lot of those rushes came on that touchdown drive. Against a Texas defense that has looked terrible against the run this year, why on earth did it take Josh Heupel so long to start calling runs?
WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN THE SECOND HALF
* Bell’s bounce back ability
Blake Bell hasn’t faced this kind of adversity yet as the Sooners’ starting quarterback. But heck, the entire OU team hasn’t been in this position yet this season. When Texas took its opening drive down the field for an early 3-0 lead, it was the first time the Sooners trailed in a game all season long. If Oklahoma has any chance at all of getting back in this thing, Blake Bell must come back strong.
* Trevor Knight?
Should Trevor Knight get a shot in this game? And not only because of Bell’s struggles, but because Texas hasn’t been able to stop zone-read quarterbacks like Knight all season long. The redshirt freshman might provide an important change of pace that would catch Texas off guard and give the Sooners a boost.
* OU run defense
Without defensive tackle Jordan Phillips or linebacker Corey Nelson, Oklahoma’s run defense has looked atrocious so far against the Longhorns. Texas’ offensive line is absolutely dominating the Sooners’ defensive front to the tune of 160 rushing yards on 30 carries. Johnathan Gray has gained 78 yards on 14 carries, and Malcolm Brown has 69 on 12. The Stoops brothers have got to figure something out at halftime.
HALFTIME STATISTICAL LEADERS
Passing — OU: Blake Bell 5-12, 35 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; Texas: Case McCoy 10-15, 143 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT.
Rushing — OU: Trey Millard 5-24, Sterling Shepard 1-24; Texas: Johnathan Gray 14-80; Malcolm Brown 12-69.
Receiving — OU: Lacoltan Bester 3-16; Texas: Jaxon Shipley 5-59.
Tackles — OU: Dominique Alexander 11, Aaron Colvin 7, Frank Shannon 7, Chuka Ndulue 7; Texas: Adrian Phillips 7, Cedric Reed 4, Mykke Thompson 3, Dalton Santos 3.