Texas quarterback Case McCoy knew his last game in the Red River Rivalry would go a long way in determining how he will be remembered as a Longhorn.
After a 36-20 victory over Oklahoma, the only win for McCoy and this group of Texas seniors, the tone of their final season has suddenly changed.
"I am excited about what comes after this game. You can study the history of Texas and when we win this game our season tends to go where we want. When we don't win, you can see how it has gone the last couple of years," McCoy said. " We proved not only to everyone else, but also to ourselves that we can play with the best of them. That's where we are at right now."
While their national title chances were pretty much gone with big losses to BYU and Mississippi before getting into conference play, the Longhorns (4-2, 3-0 Big 12) still have plenty to play for after a dominating victory Saturday to end Oklahoma's three-game winning streak in the series that included Texas being outscored 118-38 the last two years. A victory over the Sooners also, at least temporarily, suppresses all that gloomy speculation about whether Mack Brown's 16th season in Austin will be his last.
Even so, Brown insisted this win over the Sooners was special because of the Texas seniors who finally got to hold the Golden Hat trophy over their heads and what they can still accomplish in their careers.
"Number one, it puts us 3-0 in the league and still have a chance to win the Big 12 and go to a BCS game," Brown said. "That is very, very important to these guys and has been since January. That is what they have talked about every day and what they have worked for and this team has worked as hard as any team we have had."
The Longhorns have an open date before their next game Oct. 26 at TCU. Their final two regular-season games are at home Thanksgiving night against No. 16 Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0) and then at 12th-ranked Baylor (5-0, 2-0), the only other teams so far without a Big 12 loss.
Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1), at Kansas next, dropped six spots to 18th in the new Associated Press Top 25 poll Sunday.
The Sooners, who play four of their last six Big 12 games on the road, were two-touchdown favorites against Texas. They instead had their 10-game conference winning streak snapped.
"We knew the level of talent of their players. We knew that we couldn't be overconfident and overlook them because they could definitely beat us with the players they have," Sooners senior center Gabe Ikard said. "We just came out and we didn't play well. We didn't play well on offense for sure. Didn't play well on defense. Gave up some big plays on special teams. So we just got outplayed."
Texas scored its first two non-offensive touchdowns this season, including Daje Johnson's 85-yard punt return midway through the third quarter to stretch its lead to 29-13. McCoy then threw his second TD pass, a 38-yarder to Mike Davis.
The Longhorns never trailed after 295-pound defensive tackle Chris Whaley, a converted running back, intercepted a pass and rumbled 31 yards for a touchdown that made it 10-3 late in the first quarter. He dived with the ball extended to get in the end zone with Sooners quarterback Blake Bell riding on his back.
"We were telling the guys that we have to come out and punch them in the mouth the whole game and that is what we did," said Whaley, another Texas senior. "We realized that we could play like this every Saturday and if we play like this every Saturday, there is no limit to what we can do."