Oklahoma 55, Texas 17: The More Things Change…

The big storyline heading into the 2011 Red River Shootout was Texas’ “new” taking on Oklahoma’s “old.”

After suffering through a debac-tacluar 2010 season that saw the Longhorns go from a spot in the national championship game the year before to an extended Christmas, head coach Mack Brown overhauled his entire coaching staff. Aside from hiring whiz kid coordinators Manny Diaz and Bryan Harsin, Texas had also handed over the keys to its offense to a pair of freshmen, David Ash and Case McCoy. Brown even made a point at the beginning of spring camp to tell the world that he felt like he himself was starting over as a head coach.

Saturday’s result, however, had to feel pretty familiar.

Bob Stoops and his tenured coaching staff pulled all the right levers, and Oklahoma’s veteran players had their way with Texas for 60 minutes in college football’s greatest rivalry game. It felt a lot like the whoopings OU delivered back in the early 2000s. When all was said and done, the Sooners had ripped the ‘Horns, 55-17, and given the rest of the college football world a reminder of why OU was a consensus No. 1 in the preseason.

It’s hard to even find a place to start when it comes to describing how thoroughly the Sooners dominated UT Saturday, so why not begin with the guys who have been stealing all the headlines this season?

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and the receiving trio of Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds worked Texas’ secondary in just about every way possible. UT’s DBs didn’t get any meaningful help from a pass rush that typically let the ‘Stache have as much time as he needed to work through his reads and find multiple open receivers. Nine different Sooners caught passes on the day, highlighted by Broyles’ 9 receptions for 122 yards and a score. (The passing game was impressive enough to make everyone overlook OU’s inefficiency on the ground.)

Truth be told, however, OU won this game with defense. No, literally: The Sooner D by itself outscored Texas, 21-17.

For all the talk about Harsin’s offensive craftiness and willingness to defy convention, Oklahoma’s defense played at times like they were in Texas’ huddle. McCoy and Ash were sacked a total of eight times in the game. The ‘Horns lost 117 yards rushing in the game. Anything resembling a gadget play was snuffed out with a vengance.

All in all, it was the kind of performance that championship-caliber teams put forth in spotlight games. Count on the pollsters to reward the Sooners by giving back some of the ground they’ve lost to LSU and Alabama since the beginning of the season.

Thing is, I’m not sure if this win should really count for much outside of bragging rights in the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry, and I say that as a crimson-blooded OU fan.

The fact of the matter is that despite a spotless record and a bunch of new bells and whistles, Texas didn’t look like much of a better football team than the one that finished last season 5-7. Hell, in a lot of ways, the ‘Horns looked worse.

Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t change the fact that Oklahoma owns an 8-5 head-to-head edge over Texas since Bob Stoops was named head coach in 1999.

Things may be different in Austin. But on Saturday? Same as it ever was.