DALLAS — The Sooner crowd in the Cotton Bowl's south end chanted "OU! OU!" and Travis Lewis ran around the field wearing the Golden Hat and Bob Stoops walked up the famed rampart with fists raised.
Stoops solved his Texas Problem with a 28-20 victory Saturday in a game the Sooners dominated until, like always in this quirky 2010 season, they made the fourth quarter maddeningly interesting.
Stoops had lost four of five to the Longhorns, but he won't join the club of Snorter Luster, Bud Wilkinson and Gary Gibbs, OU coaches who went 1-5 in a six-year span of this series and never coached the Sooners again.
And speaking of Texas problems...
Here's why OU was in position to withstand a series of mental meltdowns, by coach and player alike.
Texas penalties. Texas gifts. The biggest bailouts this side of General Motors.
OU scored four touchdowns; major Texas penalties extended three of those drives.
"Game-changers," said UT coach Mack Brown. "Just absolute killers."
This is not to say the Longhorns gave away the game.
OU took it. The Sooners, self-mutilators a year ago, leading to an 8-5 season, played clean football, and most every time Texas gave an OU drive extra life, the Sooners pounced.
This was not only the reverse of the 2009 season, it was the reverse of the 2008 Texas game, when OU was crippled by a couple of late-hit penalties as 'Horn QB Colt McCoy scrambled.
On the game's first drive Saturday, Texas committed a personal foul and a defensive holding, giving OU first downs out of dire situations. Landry Jones and DeMarco Murray responded by leading an 83-yard touchdown drive, and OU never gave up the lead.
"They helped us out on third downs," said OU flanker Ryan Broyles. "Last year, we beat ourself a lot. This year, we made a point, we were gonna be a smart team."
Mission accomplished, until the last 6 1/2 minutes. Then Stoops lost his compass.
A fake field goal. A miscommunication from the sideline, leading to a confused Jones fumbling. No Sooner deep on a kickoff, inviting a Texas pooch that made for high drama.
Who was running this team down the stretch? Traber and Eschbach?
Any call beats the fake field goal. Up 28-17, 6 1/2 minutes left, 4th-and-3 on the Texas 25-yard line? Pooch punt, Hail Mary. Heck, you want to fake somebody out, kick the field goal. At that point in the game, only nonsense could let Texas back in the game.
And nonsense prevailed. Murray had to sprint, with a band of speedy Longhorns in pursuit, after the pooched kickoff. Murray showed remarkable poise to let the ball barely roll into the end zone.
Then Stoops and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson fell on their swords over Jones' near-disaster, saying they should have called timeout because of confusion about the play.
OK. But Jones, who otherwise played a magnificent game, should have realized that when the play busted, just drop down. Take a knee and avert disaster. Instead, Jones fumbled and had to tip the ball out of bounds to keep the 'Horns from a miracle play.
"I should have just used the last timeout," Stoops said. "So throw that one on me. We uglied it up there at the end.
"That's what you want. To be criticized for winning. We're back to Oklahoma football."
Yes indeed. Let's not lose sight of the Sooners' 5-0 record and championship pace, despite a series of close calls.
"I can't see 5-0 as a bad thing," said Lewis.
Nor is it necessarily a bad thing when the players keep their head even when the coaches don't do the same.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.