Landry Jones

Top Tier
Collin Klein
Senior QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 19-for-21 (91 percent) passing for 323 yards and three touchdowns, 12 rushes for 41 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and four TDS
Season: 98-for-139 (70.5 percent) passing for 1,397 yards for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, 110 rushes for 551 yards (5 yards per carry) and 14 TDS

Klein passed another test this weekend against former Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith. Following West Virginia’s win over Baylor, people were ready to hand the award to Smith, but Klein has taken over the top spot with his physical brand of football. He has made a name for himself as a runner, but it was his arm that beat the Mountaineers. He had a career day last week in one of the defining moments of the season for Kansas State.

Manti Te’o
Senior LB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 10 tackles.
Season: 69 tackles and
four interceptions

Te’o recorded his third consecutive ten-tackle game in the win over BYU. His tackle numbers may not be as high as some other players in the country, but his impact on the game is much more significant than some others who get tackles in bulk. His 69 tackles are good for 23rd in the nation, but he leads a Notre Dame defensive unit that is second in the nation in scoring defense. He leads the way in run defense and will have another major opportunity this weekend. Notre Dame travels to Norman, Okla. to play a confident Oklahoma team that is firing on all cylinders since its bye week after the Kansas State loss. If he can shut down the Oklahoma rushing attack and force the Sooners into difficult situations, Te’o has a chance to make plays against Landry Jones, who will be leading the best offense the Irish has seen this season. Te’o cannot afford a loss if his goal is to take home the Heisman. Unfortunately, the Irish offense is nowhere near as effective as the Sooners’, which may cost him this weekend.

Kenjon Barner
Senior RB, Oregon
Last Week: 16 rushes for 143 yards (8.9 yards per carry)
Season: 132 rushes for 870 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and 12 TDs

Barner has picked up some momentum in recent weeks after a slow start to the season. He is coming off his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game, complete with a 71-yard touchdown run against Arizona State. Barner may not quite have the raw explosiveness as teammate De’Anthony Thomas, but he is a much more complete back and has the ability to run between the tackles. As Oregon continues to spread the field, lots of running lanes open for Barner in the middle of the field, which he can hit as fast as anyone in the country. He’ll face Colorado team that is allowing over 170 yards on the ground this season.

Matt Barkley
Senior QB, USC
Last Week: 19-for-20 (95 percent) for 298 yards and six TDs
Season: 140-for-213 (65 percent) for 1773 yards, 22 TDs and six interceptions

Barkley has put himself back in contention with a stellar performance against Colorado. He became the all-time leader for touchdown passes in the Pac 12 conference, passing Matt Leinart. Now USC is getting back to business. The Trojans are in the Top 10 and a win over Oregon would vault them right back in the national title discussion as the leader of the one-loss group. He has had a strong run over the past few weeks with 10 touchdown passes to just one interception. Barkley may have lost some momentum, but as USC gets back into spotlight games, he will start to get more attention. Wins over Oregon and Notre Dame would put Barkley right up near the top of the Heisman ranks. Fortunately for him, he likely gets two shots at Oregon. Even if USC doesn’t win both of the matchups, if Barkley performs well enough he will be back among the favorites to take home the Heisman.

AJ McCarron
Junior QB, Alabama
Last Week: 17-for-22 (77 percent) for 306 yards and four TDs
Season: 106-for-154 (69 percent) for 1,476 yards and 16 TDs

McCarron wasn’t used as the playmaker last season, but he is leading a very efficient offense this time around. He has yet to throw an interception through seven games which is unheard of, especially in the land of vaunted SEC defenses. Actually, Alabama hasn’t really played anyone who is particularly good. It crushed Michigan in the first game of the season, but hasn’t played anyone with a pulse since. But the Tide does begin a three game stretch against ranked teams this week with Mississippi State traveling to Tuscaloosa, but that isn’t the game that will give him Heisman credit. That game comes next week against LSU. That is where McCarron needs to make a name for himself.

Printed on Friday, October 26, 2012 as: Heisman watch

Coming into the 2012 season, Oklahoma senior quarterback Landry Jones sat atop a variety of national awards lists and was a legitimate contender to win the Heisman Trophy. Jones, the Sooners’ all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns (13,411 yards, 100 TDs), hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers so far this season but somehow always seems to show up for the Red River Rivalry. Let’s take a look at Jones’ stats versus the Longhorns.

In 2009 when starting quarterback Sam Bradford went down for the season after being sacked by Aaron Williams, Jones, who was a redshirt freshman, entered the game. Against one of the top defenses in college football, Jones managed to pass for 250 yards, 35 of them on a touchdown toss to Ryan Broyles that tied the game in the third quarter. But the Sooners couldn’t win the turnover battle, coughing up the ball three times to Texas’ two as Jones was picked off twice. Oklahoma lost the game, 16-13, but showed glimpses of future success.

Entering 2010 Jones was considered one of the better young quarterbacks in college football. The redshirt sophomore had finished 2009 with 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns and was poised to lead the Sooners back into BCS contention. Jones led the No. 8 Sooners into Dallas looking for revenge for the year before. Jones passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma handed Texas its second straight loss of the season, 28-20.

By 2011 Longhorn fans were extremely familiar with Jones and his capabilities. In one of the most anticipated Red River Rivalry games in a decade, the No. 11 Longhorns did nothing but show up against the No. 3 Sooners. Jones gashed the Texas secondary for 367 yards and three touchdowns as
Oklahoma ran the Longhorns out of the Cotton Bowl, 55-17.

While Jones has found immense success as a Sooner, the quarterback lost his top target in Broyles last season to graduation. Broyles, the FBS all-time record holder in receptions (349), proved to be Jones’ favorite receiver, hauling in more than 4,000 yards.

When Broyles went down with an injury last November, Jones was clearly rattled, and his numbers showed. Before Broyles was hurt, Jones had a 24-5 record, 7.72 YPA, 2.6 touchdown-interception ratio and a 143.9 quarterback rating. After the Broyles injury, from Nov. 5th, 2011 to now, Jones has a 5-3 record, 61.2 completion percentage, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions — less than stellar numbers.

While Jones still has immense talent in his receiving corps, including Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds, it is hard to find a more electric quarterback-receiver duo in
college football.

No matter who the signal caller is for either team, the Red River Rivalry almost always comes down to the turnover battle. Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops reiterated that Monday in his press conference.

“Always in this game, turnovers are always a big factor,” Stoops said.

In fact, in the past 10 meetings between Texas and Oklahoma, the winner of the turnover battle has gone on to win the game.

Saturday should prove to be another great matchup between two historic powerhouse football programs.

Oklahoma fans have enjoyed the successes of quarterback Landry Jones for the past few years. This weekend Jones has a chance to become just the third quarterback in Sooner history to defeat Texas in three consecutive seasons (Daily Texan file photo).

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

It’s that time of year again. Time for fried butter, fried beer, fried cookie dough and well, fried everything, but most importantly, it’s time for the Red River Rivalry.  After last year, Texas fans are itching to get back to the Cotton Bowl and erase the 55-17 embarrassment of last season.

Both No. 15 Texas and No. 13 Oklahoma take the field on Saturday with one loss on their record. Last weekend, Oklahoma dominated Texas Tech, 41-20, on the road to avenge a rare home loss to Kansas State two weeks prior. The Sooners are 3-1 on the season and is tied for second in the Big 12 with a 1-1 record.

“It’s a lot of fun for us. It’s one of the reasons you come to Oklahoma, to play against Texas, to play at a neutral site, to play in a huge game,” OU wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “It’s a big week for us and we’re excited and we’re going to have fun this weekend.”

This will be the 107th meeting of the rivalry and Oklahoma is looking for starting quarterback Landry Jones to make history this weekend when the two teams take the field. If the Sooners win, Jones will become only the third quarterback from Oklahoma to defeat Texas three times in a row. Former Sooner quarterbacks Steve Davis and Jimmy Harris are the only men to have done it before.

“It would be a big honor just to be in that category and in that talk,” Jones said of making history. “I’ve played at this place a long time now and I just have had a really successful career ... [Davis] just really wanted to encourage me to keep going and keep leading those guys and keep fighting regardless of what happens.”

Not only that, but with a Sooner victory, Jones will take the lead in Oklahoma record books with 33 wins, passing former quarterback Steve Davis as the all-time winningest quarterback in Sooner history. To make matters worse, only one Texas quarterback has won more than two straight Red River Rivalry games. Peter Gardere defeated Oklahoma four times in the early 1990s. So, more is at stake than simply a decent bowl game.

The rivalry dates back to 1900 with Texas leading 59-42-5. With Texas A&M gone to the SEC, Oklahoma remains as Texas’ oldest rivalry still being played.

“There’s a lot of emotion that goes into the game,” Jones said of the rivalry. “I think, because there is so much tradition playing in a neutral location.”

Despite his terrible showing against Kansas State, Jones has been an efficient leader for the Oklahoma offense. He has a 63.3 completion percentage with 1032 yards in the air and seven touchdowns. Jones has been one dimensional so far this season, however. On the ground he has a net -50 yards on the season, a statistic that is sure to make the Texas defense rest a little easier after last Saturday.

“Landry just keeps getting better and better and better each game, and his stats are unbelievable. Here we are two weeks in a row playing against a Heisman candidate,” Texas head coach Mack Brown said.

In addition, only one Sooner running back has hit at least 100 yards in a game — junior Damien Williams who logged 104 yards in their season opener against UTEP. Also, the Sooners are completing 48 percent of their third downs while only attempting, and completing, one fourth down. 

Their defense is typical of a Big 12 defense, so a shootout is once again expected. So far this season, the Oklahoma defense has given up 142.5 yards per game on the ground and 160.5 yards per game in the air.

However, Oklahoma has played one fewer games than Texas has, the only legitimate contest coming against Kansas State.  

“They really do both (run and pass),” head coach Bob Stoops said of preparing a defense for Texas. “With another year in the season ... I think not just Ash, but all of them feel more comfortable.”

Printed on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 as: Historical implications surround this year's game

No. 12 Landry Jones (Daily Texan file photo).

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

What a difference a year makes.

At this point last season, Oklahoma was ranked third in the AP Top 25 thanks to a 5-0 record and many were picking the Sooners to win the Big 12 and potentially even the national championship.

Quarterback Landry Jones was coming off of a 367-yard, three-touchdown performance in a 55-17 win over No. 11 Texas, his fourth game of least 350 yards passing in five tries, and he had entered the early discussion for Heisman contenders.

Much has changed since then.

The Sooners would go on to lose three of their final seven regular season games in 2011, finishing ranked 16th after beginning the year as the preseason No. 1.

Jones, too, struggled with inconsistency down the stretch, especially after wide receiver Ryan Broyles, his favorite target, tore his ACL on Nov. 5 against Texas A&M. Jones would finish his 2011 campaign with 4,463 passing yards along with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, strong statistics but hardly Heisman-worthy.

Oklahoma has looked vulnerable to start the 2012 season, as it led UTEP by just three points entering the fourth quarter and fell 24-19 to Kansas State in its third game of the season. Once again, whether it is fair or not, much of the criticism has fallen on Jones, as the Sooner’s offense has sputtered in two of its first four games on its way to a 3-1 start.

“It drives me nuts that we’re kind of underachieving right now,” Jones said. “I feel like, specifically for myself, I’ve definitely been underachieving this whole year.”

This year Jones’ statistics are once again solid, yet unspectacular. He has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 1,032 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions in four games, and his passer rating sits at 135.2.

Jones has been unable to match the output from his breakout sophomore season, when he threw for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns against only 12 picks, but he has been undoubtedly productive in his four years with the Sooners. Following Oklahoma’s loss to Kansas State Sept. 15, head coach Bob Stoops admitted that Jones’ performance ­— 28-for-43, one touchdown and one interception — was not among his best, but he believes that blaming just him for the team’s struggles is unwarranted.

“Not very well overall,” Stoops said of Jones’ performance against the Wildcats. “But again, I don’t think it’s fair to say “Landry Jones.” I think it’s fair to say the guys around him, also were inconsistent. But again, some of the plays that stick out to everybody, that weren’t very good, when you’re turning the football over it’s going to kill you.”

Teammates have seconded these sentiments, showing full faith that the fifth-year senior quarterback will be able to once again lead the Sooners to prominence.

“Landry is a great player,” freshman wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “Sometimes nights aren’t the way you expect them to be, but he is going to come back and he is going to come back strong.”

Jones will face a major opportunity to silence his critics Saturday against the Longhorns. He is 2-0 as a starter against Texas in his career, and he played well filling in during a 16-13 loss to the Longhorns in 2009 after starter Sam Bradford was forced to leave the game with an injured shoulder. Overall, Jones has thrown for six touchdowns and two interceptions in three games against his rival to the south.

Jones will not be the only Oklahoma quarterback that the Longhorns have to account for, either, as sophomore Blake Bell has become a deadly short yardage threat for the Sooners. In his career Bell has rushed for 14 touchdowns, including 13 as a freshman in 2011, and he has earned 174 yards on 54 career carries.

That said, the Sooners’ fate in this ranked matchup will likely rest on the arm of their senior starting quarterback. Jones knows that despite his team’s inconsistency, Oklahoma still has the opportunity to contend for a conference and perhaps even national title, but another loss would considerably hurt their chances.

“Typically every year there’s a one-loss team in the championship game, both Big 12 and the national championship,” Jones said. “So it’s still out in front of us. Definitely going to be tough if we lose another one, that’s for sure. But we’re going to regroup.”

The Longhorns would love to be the ones to compromise Oklahoma’s title hopes. Whether they do that or not could very well come down to the right arm of Jones.

Printed on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 as: Jones returns to lead Sooners

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

With the first weekend of college football in the books, one thing is clear — the Big 12 has shown it is good, really good. The conference collectively went 9-0, with TCU on a bye-week. Some teams were more impressive than others, but make no doubt about it: the Big 12 is loaded.

• If there were any kinks to work out for Oklahoma State following the Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon era, they seem to have been worked out in the offseason. The Cowboys shut out Savannah State 84-0 Saturday night, scoring on their first five possessions in the first quarter. Lousy FCS opponent aside, it’s apparent true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt is capable of running head coach Mike Gundy’s spread offense. This Saturday at Arizona may prove to be a little more difficult for the Cowboys.

• Oklahoma State receiver Tracy Moore has been readmitted to the program following his suspension for legal troubles. Moore is the Cowboys top-returning receiver from 2011 (672 yards, 4 touchdowns). Moore was also demoted to special teams for the Fiesta Bowl last January for bad behavior in practice.

• South of Stillwater in Norman, Oklahoma, the Sooners are coming off a 24-7 victory over Texas-El Paso last Saturday night. While Oklahoma came away with the win, many are left questioning the Sooners’ top ranking as the game was closer than the score shows. Quarterback Landry Jones was not in sync with any of his receivers except Kenny Stills and although Jones passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns, many of his throws were off target, with a couple of near-interceptions. He was also sacked three times. To compare, he was sacked only 10 times last season. The Sooners have one more chance to tune up their offense this weekend versus Florida A&M before Kansas State comes to town in a few weeks.

• TCU’s second-leading receiver last season, Skye Dawson, will miss the opener against Grambling State because of a violation against institutional policy, head coach Gary Patterson announced Tuesday. As a junior in 2011, Dawson hauled in 45 passes for 500 yards and also returned 12 punts.

• West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was regarded as a preseason Heisman candidate, and after last Saturday he might be the frontrunner for the trophy. Smith threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns — with an 89 percent completion rating — and rushed for 65 yards adding one more score. Smith should only pad those stats on Sept. 15 versus James Madison. However, this is the same James Madison that went into Blacksburg two years ago and defeated Virginia Tech.

• Who needs RG3? Not Baylor (on Sunday night at least). The Bears defeated former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert’s Southern Methodist Mustangs, 59-24. Robert Griffin III’s replacement, Nick Florence, passed for 341 yards and four touchdowns proving the Baylor program is still a force to reckon with.

• Former Kansas tight end A.J. Steward, a graduate assistant with the Rice Owls, will be coaching against the Jayhawks on Saturday, just one season after playing for Rock Chalk.

• Texas Tech faces Texas State this weekend in San Marcos, coming off a 44-6 victory over Northwestern State. However Texas State might not be the tune-up game fans expect them to be. The Bobcats upset Houston last Saturday, 30-13, prompting the first-year Cougars offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt to resign.

• Iowa State punter Kirby Van Der Kamp was named the Big 12 special teams player of the week after dropping five punts inside Tulsa’s 15-yard line. Cyclones running back Shontrelle Johnson recorded a career-high 120 rushing yards in his first game back from neck surgery.

• Kansas State offensive lineman Nick Puetz extended his streak of consecutive starts to 13 games when he started against Missouri State. Puetz was sidelined during the opener after suffering a foot injury and will miss an idefinite amount of time.

Stat Guy: It's 2004, all over again

Michael Huff returns an interception against Texas A&M in the LonghornsÂ’ 26-13 win over the Aggies on Thanksgiving in 2004.
Michael Huff returns an interception against Texas A&M in the LonghornsÂ’ 26-13 win over the Aggies on Thanksgiving in 2004.

Playing in the secondary is like running a track meet. Playing in the secondary against Oklahoma? An Olympic track meet.

As a cornerback or safety lining up opposite Landry Jones and his battalion of receivers, the game play can be somewhat intimidating.

Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles has already hauled in 38 receptions for 476 yards and six touchdowns. Add a recently healed Kenny Stills, and the Longhorns could possibly be facing the most talented wide receiver tandem in the country.

The Texas secondary is a mix of both veterans and inexperienced players. Sophomores Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips, junior Kenny Vaccaro and senior Blake Gideon anchor a defense allowing 14.75 points per game. Not only will they have to deal with Broyles and Stills, but there’s also a pretty good quarterback looking to pick them apart: Heisman Trophy candidate Landry Jones. Interestingly enough, Texas faced a similar situation seven years ago.

In 2004, sophomore Aaron Ross, juniors Cedric Griffin and Michael Huff and senior Phillip Geiggar were members of a Texas defense that was allowing 11.75 points a game. Oklahoma quarterback Jason White, who won the Heisman in 2003, had multiple all-American receivers backing him. The Sooners were ranked No. 2 at the time, while the Longhorns sat at No. 5 in the USA Today rankings.

And who said history doesn’t repeat itself? Let’s take a look at how the 2004 Longhorns performed in the passing game.

White completed 14 of 26 passes for 113 yards and two interceptions. While the end result — a 12-0 loss — wasn’t what the Longhorns were hoping for, the defensive backs showed promise.

Huff led the Texas secondary with fifteen tackles, including an impressive eleven tackles unassisted. He also picked off White. Griffin added eight solo tackles including one tackle for a loss. Ross compiled five tackles, four of which were solo, and deflected a pass. Geiggar, the Blake Gideon of the 2004 secondary, racked up 11 total tackles, including six solo stops. Geiggar also wowed fans by forcing and recovering a fumble. Overall, it was a solid performance by a secondary not expected to have a great showing against White and future NFL receivers Mark Clayton and Travis Clayton. In fact, Oklahoma’s only touchdown on the day came from the team’s backup running back, Kejuan Jones, in the fourth quarter.

“We knew that Jason White wanted to go to Clayton,” Geiggar told the Texan. “OU had the No. 1 offense in the country, and we held them to only six points until late in the fourth quarter. What was key for us was that we all were on the same page in the back. Huff and I had our best games in this game, we had a good connection back there, and we trusted each other.”

There are many similarities between this weekend’s Red River Rivalry and the one in 2004: the age spread, the combined talent on each squad and the teams’ records and rankings. Safe to say, we’ve seen this before.

“The secondary now is not only athletic, but they are smart too,” Geiggar said. “They played well last week, so I’m sure that will carry over to this week. Duane Akina is a great [defensive backs] coach, and he’ll have those guys ready this week. I’m looking forward to watching my Longhorns play and definitely rooting for my DBs.”

They match up well. Age is not a factor. It all comes down to knowing what Oklahoma wants to do and making plays.  

Printed on October 6, 2011 as: Sooners will test Longhorns defensive backfield

1. Oklahoma: 
Quarterback Landry Jones and the Sooners got off to a quick start against the Longhorns last weekend in Dallas and proved once again that they are indeed one of the best teams in the country. Jones tossed three touchdowns passes and didn’t turn the ball over while the Sooners’ defense forced five Texas turnovers en route to a decisive victory on a big stage. The Sooners are bigger, stronger and faster than any team in the conference.

2. Oklahoma State:
Much like his counterpart down the road in Norman, Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden continued his scorching pace last week against the Jayhawks, recording five more passing touchdowns. Receiver Hubert Anyiam caught two touchdown passes last week and is quickly emerging as another formidable option beside Justin Blackmon, who also tallied two touchdowns a week ago. The Cowboys will take their air show on the road to Austin this week and will be licking their chops after the performance the Texas secondary turned in at the State Fair last week.

3. Kansas State:
The Wildcats continue to impress and are off to a quiet 5-0 start. Quarterback Collin Klein isn’t going to “wow” anyone with his arm but he continues to produce significantly for a Wildcats’ rushing attack that ranks 18th in the nation. Klein rushed for three more touchdowns in last week’s victory over Missouri to raise his total to seven rushing scores this season.

4. Texas A&M:
For a moment last Saturday it looked as if the Aggies would blow another late lead, but they were able to snap their two-game skid and edge Texas Tech by five points in Lubbock- which is no easy feat. The Aggies’ secondary did give up some alarming numbers once again, but running back Cyrus Gray was able to rush for over 100 yards to help the Aggies beat the Red Raiders. A Baylor team that is much different than in years past will make a visit to College Station next.

5. Baylor:
Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time this season last week against Iowa State and added a rushing touchdown to bring his overall touchdown total to 21 this year. Running back Terrance Ganaway added a dominant performance last week as well — the 6-foot, 240-pound senior rushed for 200 yards and three scores to remind us all that this Baylor squad is extremely well-rounded offensively.

6. Texas:
Not too many positives to take away from last week’s 55-17 shellacking at the hands of the Sooners, but the Longhorns did hold the Sooners to 86 yards rushing. That’s good and all but the Longhorns still gave up nearly 400 yards through the air also. Whatever the problems the Texas secondary had last week need to be fixed at warp speed because Oklahoma State comes to Austin this week averaging over 400 yards through the air per game.

7. Texas Tech:
The Red Raiders nearly handed Texas A&M their third-consecutive loss but fell just short in the end. Any time a quarterback can complete 44 passes like Seth Doege did for the Red Raiders last week, his team will have a shot at winning games. The Red Raiders just need some defense to go with all that firepower they have on offense. If the Red Raiders are able to beat a scrappy Kansas State team this week they could be a new addition to the Top-25 polls.

8. Missouri:
Sophomore running back Henry Josey is averaging 12.4 yards per carry this year on only 43 attempts. He’s not the only Tiger making strides on the ground — the team is averaging a hefty 253.3 rushing yards per game. Big numbers but only two wins to show for it. Part of that is because of injuries and a true freshman at quarterback, but even in the Tigers’ three losses they have not lost by more than 10 points. The potential is there, they just need to get over the hump late in games and finish off opposing teams.

9. Iowa State:
Cyclones’ quarterback Steele Jantz has shown he can make big plays when they matter the most, but he’s also shown a propensity for turning the ball over. He has thrown eight interceptions so far and has squandered opportunities to put his team ahead. Baylor seemed to just be too fast and powerful for the Cyclones to handle last week and they could be in for another rude awakening this week against Columbia if they don’t assess some glaring issues on the defensive side of the ball.

10. Kansas:
The Jayhawks are in week two of a four-game stretch against ranked opponents. After losing 70-28 last week at the hand of Oklahoma State they get the luxury of playing Oklahoma this week. Tough break for a team that is clearly a cut below the conference’s best. The Jayhawks are giving up an NCAA-worst 49.4 points per game and that figure will more than likely be on the rise after this week.  

DALLAS — For a brief moment, it seemed as if Texas had a shot.

A kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter had cut Oklahoma’s lead to 17 and had some fans reminiscing about Jordan Shipley’s touchdown return a few years ago that sparked the Longhorns to a 45-35 comeback win over the Sooners. But it wasn’t meant to be this time around.

Led by quarterback Landry Jones, No. 3 Oklahoma pounded No. 11 Texas, 55-17, at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, scoring 21 unanswered points before Fozzy Whittaker’s 100-yard scoring return and 28 unanswered after it.

“I was disappointed we didn’t live up to our side of the match,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown.

“This is one of the greatest games in college football, and our players were so excited. A lot of new coaches, they were so excited. But we didn’t live up to our side of it, so we’ve got to go back and do a better job next week.”

While Jones was busy throwing for 367 yards and three touchdowns, Texas’ alternating quarterbacks struggled.

Case McCoy lost two fumbles and David Ash was picked off twice, marking the first time either committed a turnover this season. Add to that a strip of Texas receiver Mike Davis, and the Longhorns committed five turnovers, three of which the Sooners took back for defensive touchdowns, a new school record.

“Guys got in our face and kind of got our quarterbacks on their back foot,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “They played well and took advantage of our turnovers with three turnovers. That can’t happen.”

Whittaker had a game-high 160 all-purpose yards. He, Malcolm Brown and D.J. Monroe combined for 120 yards rushing. Yet, the Longhorns managed a mere 36 yards on the ground, averaging less than a yard-per-carry thanks to the Sooners’ seven sacks, including three by senior Frank Alexander.

Oklahoma’s offense took advantage of some short fields, starting three of its first six drives in Texas territory. All together, the Sooners scored 31 points off five Longhorns turnovers. While Oklahoma’s defense played a pivotal role in its big win, Jones and the offense more than did its part as well.

Jones did most of his damage in the first half, completing 23 of 35 passes, racking up 305 of his 367 yards and throwing all three of his touchdown before halftime. His two favorite targets, Ryan Broyles, who had nine catches for 122 yards and a touchdown, and Kenny Stills, who snagged five passes and scored twice, both had big days.

“I can miss a throw every once in a while, and they’re going to make the play on it,” Jones said. “So it just takes a lot of pressure off me knowing that I have receivers that I can put the ball up to in tight coverage, and they’re going to make a play.”

Excluding Dominique Whaley’s 64-yard scoring sprint in the third quarter, Texas held Oklahoma’s rushing game in check. Not counting that long touchdown run, the Sooners ran for just 22 yards on 18 carries. But it didn’t matter. The Longhorns couldn’t contain their aerial attack.

Texas (4-1, 1-1) doesn’t have much time to lament the loss. It gets a home game this weekend, but it’s against No. 5 Oklahoma State and its vaunted passing attack, one that rivals even that of Oklahoma’s.

Senior quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has a 74.3 completion percentage and 1,592 yards passing, both of which are good — fourth-best in the nation. Junior wideout Justin Blackmon led the nation with 20 touchdown catches a year ago and has six already this season.

“We’ve got to [get] back to work,” Brown said. “We play another top-five team next week so we don’t have any time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves.”

After what happened at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, it can’t get much worse. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Neither of Texas’ two quarterbacks had committed a turnover in their first four games. Coming into Saturday, the Longhorns were still unbeaten.

But both of those things changed Saturday.

Case McCoy lost two fumbles and David Ash threw two interceptions as three of the Longhorns’ five turnovers were returned for touchdowns while the Texas offense failed to find the end zone until late in the fourth quarter. Sooners junior quarterback Landry Jones threw for 367 yards, 305 of them and each of his three touchdown passes in the first half, leading Oklahoma (5-0) to a 55-17 win over Texas (4-1) Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in the AT&T Red River Rivalry.

“I was disappointed we didn’t live up to our side of the match,” head coach Mack Brown said. “This is one of the greatest games in college football and our players were so excited. A lot of new coaches, they were so excited. But we didn’t live up to our side of it so we’ve got to go back and do a better job next week.”

After scoring off of three first-quarter takeaways in each of their last two games, the Longhorns were the ones to fall victim to early turnovers. The Sooners racked up five takeaways, three of them in the first half. After McCoy’s first-quarter fumble led to an Oklahoma field goal, junior defensive back Demontre Hurst picked off Ash and returned the interception 55 yards for a Sooners score.

“You can’t turn the ball over,” freshman quarterback David Ash said. “We can’t put our defense in that kind of situation. Our defense played hard and they fought but whenever you give them 21 points, it’s going to be a tough game.”

On Texas’ opening drive of the second half, McCoy was sacked and fumbled as junior defensive end David King scooped the ball up and scored from 19 yards out. Then, senior defensive back Jamell Flemming pried the ball out of Mike Davis’ hands and returned the fumble 56 yards for another Sooners touchdown and giving his team a 55-10 lead.

Oklahoma’s three defensive touchdowns set a school record, but the Sooners offense more than played its part in the blowout victory. Jones picked apart a Longhorns secondary that entered the game as the Big 12’s top pass defense and helped Texas become the conference’s best scoring defense after four games. The junior found his two favorite targets – Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills – early and often as Broyles registered 122 yards and a touchdown on nine catches with Stills scoring twice in the second quarter.

“Landry Jones played like a Heisman winner today,” Brown said. “He was as good as anyone in the country today. He got pressure. He got it. And he still made throws. He did a tremendous job.”

If there were a silver lining for Texas, it would be Fozzy Whittaker. The senior running back was coming off an impressive showing last week against Iowa State and delivered again Saturday against Oklahoma with 45 rushing yards on just six carries, a 15-yard reception, and a 100-yard touchdown on a kickoff return in the second quarter. Another senior, tight end Blaine Irby, also provided some consolation with his first two receptions since Sept. 2008.

Texas faces another formidable opponent from Oklahoma when they take on No. 5 Oklahoma State next Saturday at home. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.

“We play another top-five team next week so we don’t have any time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves,” Brown said.

Printed on October 10, 2011 as: Cotton Bowl Collapse

Dominique Whaley has gone from a virtually unknown walk-on to one of the Big 12’s best running backs.

Whaley is listed as a co-starter with five-star recruit sophomore Brennan Clay. He is also ahead of four-star recruit Roy Finch. As the Sooners continue their quest to remain undefeated this season at the Cotton Bowl, Whaley is going to have an important role, even though he is playing without a scholarship.

“Typically, there’s not a lot of guys that show up that have the ability he has,” said running backs coach Cale Gundy.

“We’ve always had walk-ons that have been very good players and have earned scholarships ... But for someone to come in with that ability is a little unusual.”

Whaley went virtually unnoticed by recruiters because he did not attend summer camps in high school and he grew up in a military family. In addition, he played slot receiver his senior year while Oklahoma teammate Javon Harris was the featured back.

He did have offers from Emporia State and Langston. But he turned them down to be a student at Oklahoma.

“He’s an incredible athlete,” said Sooners quarterback Landry Jones. “He kind of came out nowhere and made a name for himself in spring ball ... Sometimes the five stars don’t work out, and sometimes the zero stars turn out to be five stars in college.”

Jones describes him as “a diamond in the rough.”

Whaley scored four touchdowns in his Sooner debut. He rushed for 131 yards on 18 carries in Oklahoma’s win against Tulsa this season.

Oklahoma center Ben Habern and linebacker Tony Jefferson were shocked when they found out Whaley was a walk on.
“Since the first day he got here, he opened all our eyes real big,” Jefferson said. “We’re like, ‘You’re a walk-on? You should be playing somewhere.’”

He has rushed for 100 yards in two of Oklahoma’s four games and has seven touchdowns this season. That ties him for 13th nationally and first in the Big 12. He has 70 carries for 379 yards this season. Not bad for someone who didn’t start during high school.

“He’s a freak,” said fullback Trey Millard. “I love blocking for him. I know any block I can make can spring him.”

Whaley is tough. He runs aggressively and isn’t afraid to take hits. He was briefly out of Oklahoma’s matchup against Ball State. But he returned soon after coming out of the game and scored a 25-yard touchdown.

“He takes some shots,” Jones said. “Let’s just pray he lasts through the year; it’s been great having him in the backfield, he’s making a lot of plays for us.”

Center Gane Ikard has been impressed with Whaley’s play and said Whaley hits people, rather than gets hit.

“You can see with how hard he runs, how hard he plays, he’s breaking all kinds of tackles,” Ikard said. “He’s starting to be a complete back, he runs with power, runs with speed and he can catch out of the backfield.”

Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said whoever has the “hot hand” will play and get the ball. Whaley definitely has the hot hand right now.

“I’m not going to run any lighter because I wasn’t recruited,” Whaley said. “I’m going to run as hard as I can and try to prove I can play with these guys. I guess I’ve proved it.”

Clay has been battling injuries recently, so Whaley may have to step up even more this weekend when the Sooners meet the Longhorns.

“Bring it on, I’m ready for it,” Whaley said. “I’ll do whatever I can for my team.”