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Texas upsets Oklahoma, saving coach Strong for now

DALLAS -- Charlie Strong put that gold cowboy hat on and flashed a huge smile filled with relief, joy and vindication.

If last week's beatdown at TCU was rock bottom for Strong at Texas, his first victory against rival Oklahoma might be what changes the trajectory of his program. Or maybe it was just a temporary respite for the beleaguered Longhorns and their coach.

Regardless, a 24-17 win against the 10th-ranked Sooners yesterday was no ordinary victory for Texas.

"We heard all week how the pride has been lost. How we don't play hard," Strong said. "And I don't have an answer for last week [TCU 50, Texas 7], we go out and we kind of just lay an egg and this week we came out and we wanted to impose our will. We wanted to play physical and watch our team just go to work."

The Longhorns (2-4, 1-2 Big 12) worked over Oklahoma's defense with 313 yards rushing. Their D went to work on quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Sooners' offensive line, blitzing and stunting their way to six sacks. Naashon Hughes and Poona Ford buried Mayfield for a 17-yard loss on third-and-14 deep in Oklahoma territory late in the fourth quarter on what turned out to be a fitting last offensive play of the game for the Sooners (4-1, 1-1).

Jerrod Heard and the Longhorns then ran out the final 3:33 of the game.

Heard led a scaled-down offense that threw only 12 passes, The quarterback ran for 115 yards on 21 carries. D'Onta Foreman made the biggest offensive play, a tackle-breaking 81-yard run that set up backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes' jump-pass touchdown to Caleb Bluiett that made it 24-10 with 13:52 left in the fourth quarter.

The 244-pound Swoopes played the role of closer for the Longhorns, and earlier had a 3-yard rushing TD.

"We needed this," said Strong, a former Louisville head coach who is now 8-11 in his second season at Texas.

Offensive guard Sedrick Flowers said: "Watching ESPN and seeing everything in the media about coach, everybody attacking him, picking on him and stuff, a bunch of guys were like, this isn't fair. We're not playing hard and it's affecting him and his status."

Longhorns freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson, who had two sacks, said, "This is the spark that lights the fire."

Texas is now 6-2 since 1989 against Oklahoma when it is unranked and the Sooners are ranked.

"I definitely don't think it was a lack of focus, and we definitely did not underestimate them at all," Oklahoma offensive linemen Ty Darlington said. "They were a much more talented and capable team than the record."

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