Kyler Murray recovered from a pair of early interceptions that led to a two-touchdown deficit, throwing for 360 yards and three touchdowns and running for 100 yards and another score to rally No. 7 Oklahoma to a 51-46 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night.
Trey Sermon set career highs with 206 yards rushing and three TDs as the Sooners (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) stayed in the hunt for a return to the College Football Playoff with their 19th straight win in a true road game and 14th consecutive November victory.
Oklahoma was seventh in the first playoff rankings released this past week.
The Red Raiders (5-4, 3-3) led 31-28 at halftime, but freshman quarterback Alan Bowman didn’t return in the second half of their eighth straight loss against a Top 10 team going back to 2012. Texas Tech officials didn’t immediately say why Bowman left the game.
The Big 12 passing leader’s absence changed the flow of a game that was looking a lot like the 65-59 touchdown fest the Sooners won in Lubbock two years ago, when Baker Mayfield topped Patrick Mahomes in a matchup of future first-round NFL draft picks.
Texas Tech punted three straight times without getting a first down after Jett Duffey replaced Bowman again, just as he did five weeks ago when Bowman sustained a partially collapsed lung against West Virginia. Bowman returned two weeks ago against Kansas.
Duffey then started moving the Red Raiders, and they pulled within two on his 4-yard scoring pass to Zach Austin on fourth down midway through the fourth quarter. But Robert Barnes intercepted the 2-point conversion pass and returned it 98 yards for two points and a 44-40 OU lead.
Murray has passes intercepted by Vaughnte Dorsey, on his first throw of the game and again on OU’s second possession.
Bowman threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Vasher after the Red Raiders got the ball on the Oklahoma 3 following Dorsey’s 17-yard return on the first interception.
After a 31-yard return on Dorsey’s second pick, Duffey came on as change of pace replacement for Bowman and threw a screen that Ta’Zhawn Henry took 14 yards for a 14-0 lead.
But Murray protected the ball the rest of the way and led the Sooners to 687 total yards in what figures to be his only chance to get the Sooners back to the four-team playoff since the junior is expected to pursue pro baseball after his only season as OU’s starter.
Lee Morris caught two of Murray’s TDs, the second a 46-yarder that put the Sooners ahead for good 35-31 in the third quarter. Morris had 101 yards receiving. Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley caught 12 passes for 199 yards.
Oklahoma: The Sooners gave up more than 300 yards for the first time in three games since former Texas Tech assistant Ruffin McNeill replaced the fired Mike Stoops as defensive coordinator. It’s hard to gauge the progress of the unit because of Bowman’s injury. The Red Raiders finished with 473 total yards.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders will wonder what might have been if Bowman had been able to return in the second half. He was 21 of 26 for 227 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Still, Duffey showed similar persistence to the previous time he replaced Bowman. He threw for two scores and ran for another to give Texas Tech a shot at an onside kick with 1:05 remaining. It failed.
Oklahoma: Bedlam is at home against Oklahoma State next Saturday.
Texas Tech: Another big home game against No. 15 Texas next Saturday.
Source: The Associated Press