Texas 28 – Oklahoma 24
October 14, 1989 ▪ at Dallas ▪ Attendance 75,587
Following an unfortunate series of events, on June 9, 1989, Barry Switzer resigned as Oklahoma's head coach amid player misconduct and allegations of recruiting violations, five players had been arrested on felony charges, and the NCAA placed the Sooners on probation, with penalties that included reduced scholarships and a postseason ban for '89 and '90. In a strange twist, Switzer was leaving the team the same way he had inherited it.
Though his career was never short on controversy, Switzer built one of the greatest programs in college football history with his Oklahoma Sooners in the '70's and '80's. Both praised and reviled by the media as the "outlaw" of college football, Switzer was characterized as the "greatest rogue, pirate, hustler, and con man" ever to command a football team. During his tenure, he won three national championships ('74, '75 and '85) and a dozen Big Eight titles in his 16 seasons, and finished with a record of 157-29-4, which was the fourth best all-time winning percentage in Division I-A. Incredibly, almost half of his losses occurred over a three-year period, from '81-'83. And under Switzer, Oklahoma produced 58 All-Americans.
Defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs took over the reigns as the new head coach. He had been a linebacker for the Sooners from 1972-74, part of a team that complied a three-year record of 32-2-1 with national finishes of second ('72) and third ('73) before a national title in '74. Afterwards, he was a graduate assistant for two years and a part time coach for another before serving as linebackers coach from 1978-80.
The following year, Switzer promoted him to defensive coordinator, and from 1984-87, his Oklahoma defense had an almost unprecedented run of finishes in the national statistics. They finished first three times and second once in total defense, first twice and second once in rushing defense, first in passing defense three times, and first twice and second once in scoring defense. In '86, Oklahoma swept top honors in all four categories.
The program did not seem to miss a beat, as Gibbs brought the Sooners (4-1) into the Red River rivalry game on a roll. But they were uncharacteristically ranked #15 in the country, they're lowest ranking since not being ranked in '82. It was most likely the result of having played five unranked opponents, beating them by an average score of 38-7, and the 6-3 loss at Arizona.
Meanwhile, in Austin, third-year coach David McWilliams was trying to rebound from a disastrous 4-7 season in '88 that included losses in six of their final seven games. With wins over SMU and Rice, and losses against Colorado and Penn State, the Longhorns (2-2) came in unranked for the fourth straight year, and they had not beaten the Sooners in six years.
Texas struck first when Tony Jones grabbed a seven-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Peter Gardere, and Wayne Clements kicked the extra point. But Oklahoma sophomore tailback Mike Gaddis' 62-yard burst to the end zone, and R.D. Lashar's kick, tied the game at 7-7. However, when Texas' sophomore linebacker Mical Padgett picked up a punt and rambled 44 yards to pay dirt. When Oklahoma blocked the extra point try, Clements picked up the ball and connected with Curtis Thrift for a two-point conversion, and the first 15 minutes ended with the Longhorns up, 15-7.
In the second quarter, the only points that were put up on the scoreboard were from Clements foot. He kicked a 42-yard field goal, and later followed that with a 49-yarder, and heading into the locker rooms, Texas owned a 21-7 lead, and they smelled upset.
In the third quarter, the Oklahoma defense toughened and did not wilt. It was much needed, and it gave the Sooners' offense time to maneuver. After freshman quarterback Steve Collins connected with Artie Guess for a 41-yard touchdown, Lashar's extra point brought the team within striking range. But they were still down, 21-14, and the game headed into the fourth quarter.
First, Lashar's 30-yard field goal cut the lead to four points. Then, the offense grinded out yardage again, and capped a drive when Ike Lewis went over from a yard out. Lashar's foot put the Sooners ahead for the first time in the game, 24-21. Behind a defense bending, but not breaking, it looked as though Oklahoma's winning streak in the rivalry would stay intact.
With just 3:42 left, Gardere and Texas broke their huddle at its own 34, and the Longhorn's half of the Cotton Bowl rallied behind their team for one last drive. Four Gardere completions later, and they were at the Oklahoma 25 with just over two minutes left in the game. Then, on second down-and-ten, the Sooners blitzed a linebacker, and Gardere's hot read was receiver Johnny Walker. He rifled a strike to an outstretched Walker at the goal line, and he fell into the end zone with only 1:33 left for the winning score. On the seven-play drive, Gardere all five of his passes for 58 yards, and Texas escaped with a wild 28-24 upset.
Oklahoma had out-gained the Longhorns, 346-273. The Sooners' wishbone had rushed for 285 yards, paced by Gaddis' 130 on 14 carries, while Lewis contributed 82 on his 14 carries. But it was not enough. In 16 games against Texas, Switzer had gone 9-5-2; Gibbs was now 0-1 against the Longhorns.
Source: Jeff Linkowski