DALLAS – Benched early and celebrating late, Spencer Rattler had quite the first experience in a most unusual version of the Red River rivalry.
The Oklahoma freshman threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Drake Stoops in the fourth overtime and the Sooners survived a late rally from No. 22 Texas in regulation for a 53-45 victory Saturday.
Rattler sat most of the second quarter in favor of Tanner Mordecai after an interception and a fumble, but came back with two of his three scoring passes in overtime as the Sooners (2-2, 1-2 Big 12) bounced back from their first back-to-back losses in the regular season since 1999.
“I thought Spencer did some good things early then had a couple plays that I didn’t like,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “I felt like Tanner would go play well. I also felt like it would help Spencer step back for a second and kind of see the whole thing a little bit and settle down, and I think that happened.”
So much about one of college football's most unique settings was different because the pandemic reduced the crowd to 24,000 at the 93,000-seat Cotton Bowl and shut down the surrounding Texas state fair for the first time since World War II.
The dramatic ending was quite familiar, even if it was the first time since 1999 that neither team was ranked in the Top 20. It was just the second four-OT game in 25 seasons of the Big 12, joining Kansas State's 53-50 victory over Texas A&M in 2011.
Sam Ehlinger, who had a career-high four rushing touchdowns, threw two TD passes in the final 3:28 of regulation after what appeared to be a game-sealing interception by Woodi Washington in the end zone with the Sooners leading 31-17 with five minutes remaining.
But Ehlinger's pass was intercepted in end zone by Tre Brown after Rattler's toss to former OU coach Bob Stoops' son, leaving the senior with a 1-4 record against his biggest rival, including a loss in the 2018 Big 12 championship game.