Red River chaos
Even after OG&E restored power Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, moments of ABC's Red River Rivalry broadcast left a little to be desired. (NonDoc)

In the seminal comedy, The Blues Brothers, the titular duo found themselves in a police chase driving a car in a shopping mall.

As they crash past and through storefronts, Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) and his brother, Jake Blues (John Belushi) discuss the items available for sale. At one point, Jake calmly and unironically says, “This place has got everything.”

Jake Blues and I were sympatico Saturday, at least as I watched one of the most exciting OU-Texas games in recent memory.

The 34-30 OU win had EVERYTHING: a fake punt, a blocked punt, multiple interceptions and a weird gadget kickoff return — all in the opening 15 minutes.

As the first quarter ended, fellow NonDoc writer Matt Patterson texted and asked if someone slipped mescaline into the teams’ Gatorade.

While the score stood at just 7-7 after one quarter, I felt like Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Mr. Hand wondering if everyone was simply on dope. Maybe we should have listened more closely to OU head coach Brent Venables’ pregame interview perspective on the field: “I say embrace the chaos.”

Of course, at times, the Red River chaos extended beyond the field and impeded efforts just to watch the game. Especially in the first half, technical difficulties left some moments looking a lot like the image above.

Meanwhile, in a central section of Oklahoma City where my editor lives, OG&E briefly and embarrassingly lost bragging rights in the electric grid battle with Texas. Clear skies, weather in the 60s, no wind? Impossible conditions for delivering electricity smoothly!

Anyway, the 2023 Red River Rivalry’s final three quarters were maybe not as … adventurous … as its opening quarter, but they were no less fascinating. Between a goal-line stand, multiple fourth down attempts and long field goal attempts, the fun simply wouldn’t stop.

Eventually, the Red River chaos appeared to reach a climax when Texas took advantage of a dead-tired OU defense to kick a long field goal for a 30-27 lead … with a kicker named like a Crayon who looks like a lower-tier brother in the Von Erich wrestling family.

With 77 seconds remaining and no time outs, it appeared all was lost for the Crimson and Cream. The exciting game simply wasn’t ready to let the chaos end, however. Behind the oft-criticized left arm of Dillon Gabriel, OU managed a game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds remaining. Two snaps against OU’s perplexing prevent defense allowed Texas the chance for a Hail Mary heave, which was batted down in the end zone for a final chaotic culmination.

Sometimes, a sporting event can simply short circuit the human ability to process everything that happened. Sometimes, so much takes place that you have to watch several times to realize what unfolded.

Sometimes, you just have to look at your brother and say, “Man, this game has got EVERYTHING.”

Enough wide-eyed pontificating about the game, it’s time for some observations and questions:

  • What does this MEAN for OU? Everything, at least right now. Venables needed a signature win to prove all the good vibes around the program were not wishful folly. At least for now, a few obnoxious conversations can be quieted, like whether OU is ready for the SEC, if Venables is truly the answer at head coach, has Texas zoomed past the Sooners, etc., etc.
  • I say “at least for now” because, looking at the schedule, there are no layups on the horizon. What is OU’s easiest game on paper from here out? At Oklahoma State? Did anyone see what the ‘Pokes pulled out of their collective rears against Kansas State on Friday night? West Virginia at home? Umm, the Mountaineers are 4-1 with some of the better wins in the conference. Although OU’s remaining schedule lacks a true heavyweight, is is fraught with land mines;
  • Still, the good vibes from Saturday’s Red River win should reverberate for a while. The OU defense absolutely proved it’s the real deal. The unit’s ferocity forced the Longhorns to abandon their early-game offensive plan. While the machinations by Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian proved somewhat successful — at one point, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers completed 19 straight passes — they resulted in a lot of yards, but not so many points;
  • Meanwhile, an offense that can look gangbusters one game and pedestrian the next proved efficient enough for Oklahoma on Saturday. It never really looked pretty, and the matriculation of the football down the field seemed herky-jerky at times, but the end result was 34 points against a really good Texas defense;
  • My final thought on this game: I don’t know what the rest of season holds, but I sense all of Sooner Nation exhaled in a way we haven’t since former head coach Lincoln Riley went west in December 2021;
  • As for Oklahoma’s other major conference team, the Cowboys of Oklahoma State pulled themselves off the mat after a rough few weeks and prevailed in the Big 12’s new Friday night showcase. (There’s a reason OU and Texas are anxious to leave the Big 12 Conference.)
  • Not to bring up bad notes amidst good feelings for OSU, but I’d say we can squarely place the blame of the team’s constipated first month at the feet of head coach Mike Gundy, who flat-out refused to name a quarterback and went with an unwieldy three-headed disaster for the first three games of the year. That set up prevented any of the three signal callers from gaining rhythm or comfort. After Gundy finally turned to Alan Bowman — the player he brought in as a transfer to be the starting quarterback in the first place — Bowman has predictably grown more comfortable in the role. Funny how that works;
  • Speaking of questionable coaching … Mario Cristobal, come on down! Up 20-17 with 35 seconds to go against 19-point underdog Georgia Tech, the University of Miami head coach simply could have had his team take a knee to ensure a Hurricane win. Inexplicably, Cristobal and his offensive coordinator called a running play. The Miami running back fumbled and, three plays later, Georgia Tech scored the winning touchdown;
  • I earn well less than Cristobal’s $8 million per year. Yet, I’m 100 percent certain if he would have handed me the headset in the final minute of Miami’s game Saturday night, I could have coached the Hurricanes to a victory;
  • Uhh, Georgia, I see you. After your 51-13 stomping of Kentucky, we all do. Apologies for doubting you;
  • Missouri had everything going its way against LSU: entering the game undefeated, playing at home, leading in the second half, facing LSU’s backup quarterback after an injury to the starter. How did it end? Somehow, LSU posted a double-digit win after a 17-yard pick-six to end the game. Mizzou mizzou’d all over the place, and it’s going to take the EPA and a binding resolution from the United Nations to clean it all up;
  • Across the border, Kansas solidified itself as the third-best team in the Big 12 at this point, with a 51-22 destruction of a UCF team that came into Lawrence, Kansas, as the Las Vegas favorite. Sure, UCF again lost its starting quarterback early in the game, but the Jayhawks never had theirs to begin with. Oklahoma at Kansas in three weeks is going to be interesting;
  • After toppling Texas A&M’s bonfire 26-20, Alabama is back on track to go 11-1 and play in the SEC title game during its “down” year;
  • UCLA has a good defense, as shown again Saturday when handing Washington State its first loss of the season. It’s emotionally destabilizing to think of the Cuddly Bears in possession of a good defense. It’s going to take me a while to process it;
  • You know who doesn’t have a good defense? USC. Surprise, surprise. The Trojans watched as Arizona jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead, before finally unhitching their offensive wagons to put away the game against the three-touchdown underdogs in triple overtime;
  • Outside of Texas Tech beating another Texas-based team in Baylor, the only FBS football team in the state of Texas to win Saturday was the UTSA Roadrunners;
  • Meep-meep, losers.