Texas carving up Oklahoma is as sign of things to come with Steve Sarkisian | Opinion

DALLAS — The sellout crowd of 92,100 at the Cotton Bowl — the 100 were the minute number of Sooners fans who stayed the entire game — got to see a slightly different version of Oklahoma and Texas football.

Turkey, meet the carving knife.

That’s how one-sided this 49-0 win was. It wasn’t pretty in terms of competitiveness. That said, it proved to be a lovely sight to behold if you’re part of Longhorn Nation, which can finally celebrate snapping a four-game losing streak to the Sooners in this blood feud of a rivalry and possibly embarking on a new, upward path.

Off the top, there are a couple of easy observations.

Oklahoma ain’t any good.

Texas can be.

It certainly was Saturday in this historic meeting of two unranked clubs in terms of lopsided scoring margin and potential significance moving forward after a blowout of a now 3-3 OU team that’s winless in three Big 12 games.

So this is what a Steve Sarkisian program can look like. He certainly envisioned this kind of success when he took the Texas job less than two years ago.

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“You never know the path you’re going to go on,” said the second-year Longhorns coach, who beat OU for the first time. “I hate to dwell on last year, but we felt we let one get away. The outside world looks only at wins and losses for growth in the program, but we look at the work every day, the attention to detail, the competitiveness and physicalness. I know it’s a minute since we got the Golden Hat.”

A whole bunch of Longhorns tried it on for size.

“I put it on,” tailback Bijan Robinson said. “It’s kind of big.”

Quinn Ewers nodded in agreement. “Yeah, what Bijan said.”

The two were instrumental in Texas posting its most complete win in ages in this series and turning the page on OU’s domination.

Sarkisian knows he has an NFL-quality quarterback — something that has been in short supply over the last dozen years — in Ewers, plus an NFL-bound workhorse tailback in Bijan Robinson after his fourth consecutive 100-yard-plus performance. He also knows he has a spectacular wide receiver and tight end in Xavier Worthy and Ja’Tavion Sanders, who combined for three touchdowns, and now he has a swarm-tackling defense aglow after its first shutout of the year and first in this series since 1965.

Five different Horns scored.

Ewers showed off an arm and the quickest release of any Texas quarterback these eyes have ever seen.

And the defense, maligned a year ago after ranking No. 100 nationally, got three sacks and two takeaways and completely throttled an OU offense that tried five players throwing a pass and resorted to a fake field goal and four fourth-down gambles. Nothing the Sooners tried resulted in points.

Yes, Texas checked a whole lot of boxes.

Sarkisian’s free-wheeling offense, working on all cylinders with 585 yards yards overall and four touchdowns in six first-half possessions alone, trampled a very, very suspect Sooners defense, and his defense crumpled an anemic, run-heavy OU offense at every turn.

One would be hard-pressed to remember a more complete victory in this series.

It all spelled a runaway for Texas in the biggest Longhorns landslide in the series’ history and quite possibly the beginning of a Longhorns streak, given the seeming disparity of talent between the two teams. Quite frankly, Texas toyed with OU all day long.

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Texas didn’t get its 50. But OU’s fit to be tied after allowing 104 points in its last two games.

Uh, about that missed Bert Auburn field goal.

We kid, Sark, because there’s precious little to find anything wrong with in such a total domination of a proud Oklahoma program that's coming to grips with a three-game losing streak, a new head coach trying to replace a big-time winner in Lincoln Riley and a dispirited fan base contemplating one of its worst seasons in ages.

And Auburn’s no problem. He’d made 10 of 12 field-goal tries, including eight in a row, before the rare miss in the fourth quarter.

“Fifty would have been awesome,” said Ewers, who threw four touchdown passes with one interception. “I know Bert wanted that one. He’s a great kicker. Obviously he’s been on a burner the last couple of games.”

For Texas, it was a glorious afternoon in the sun as the burnt-orange half of the stadium stayed to the sweet end and watched receiver Jordan Whittington sprint around the field, carrying the huge white flag with the Longhorns logo.

“You get a great win like this,” Whittington said, “you want to build on it.”

Maybe, just maybe this could be the start of something big, opponent’s current slumping status notwithstanding.

Understand, the Longhorns won’t be going to the College Football Playoff this year, but they now find themselves 4-2 with two razor-thin losses to No. 1 Alabama and a frenzied Texas Tech in overtime on the road. But for them, Sarkisian’s era would be on full-scale upward trajectory and in the top 10.

The Longhorns (2-1 in Big 12 play) should climb into the Top 25 on Sunday unless the last five teams in those rankings all hold serve. It matters not to a Texas team that feels legitimately good about itself and its prospects to contend for its first Big 12 crown since 2009.

All things are possible if Saturday’s showing is any indication.

There was nothing fluky about this verdict. Texas scored throughout and made this a statement game, something it's been sorely in need of as Sarkisian finally comes through with his first signature win. Not only that, but he evens his UT record at 9-9, and the vibe with this team is for real.

“We didn’t talk about last year, but we didn’t want to let it happen again,” said Sanders, noting the 55-48 loss after Texas led 28-7 in the 2021 meeting. “We’re still on the Revenge Tour.”

The Tour continues with a home game against Iowa State next week.

And Sark, much embattled after a tumultuous 5-7 first season that included one blown halftime lead after another, finally has something tangible for show and tell with two straight wins over West Virginia and OU along with a profound hope that there are more where those came from.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Steve Sarkisian, Texas Longhorns carve up Oklahoma, snap losing streak