DALLAS — I’ve got nothing …
Well, nothing but space.
Words to fill it?
Words that do it justice?
Interviewed afterward at midfield, Lincoln Riley’s questioner closed by telling him people would be talking about what happened inside the Cotton Bowl on Saturday for years to come.
Yet, before the sentiment could be fully expressed, Riley was interrupting.
“Forever,” he said.
That’s how good it was.
Or, that’s how good … and awful and incredible and extraordinary and crushing and amazing and great and horrendous and … ultimately, unforgettable it was.
God willing, there will be only one COVID-19 Red River rivalry game.
Only one played in the middle of otherwise abandoned Fair Park. Only one played in front of so sparse a crowd. Only one that needed a time-capsule contest to be electrifying, when under normal circumstances, just the pregame atmosphere delivers that.
On the other hand, now that’s in the books, and Oklahoma walked out with an indescribable — though sportswriters and others will try — 53-45 quadruple overtime triumph, perhaps it’s all right there was the one.
We won’t forget it.
In these coronavirus times, our lives turned upside down, many of our jobs lost or at risk, many people we know having suffered slightly or fatally, there will at least be this glorious football game, born of a glorious rivalry, that produced at least one glorious afternoon in the midst of it all.
You know, provided you bleed crimson and cream rather than burnt orange.
The winning score was provided by Drake Stoops, son of Bob, a walk-on, who’s basically doing the same thing for the Sooners he did for Norman North, getting open and catching the ball, and isn’t it nice to know the game can still be that simple?
It was made possible by the unthinkable, a blown 31-yard field goal try from Gabe Brkic, just the second miss of his collegiate life and the first inside of 50 yards; perhaps contributed to by a suspect hold, because I swear the ball was tilted too low to control easily, but what the heck do I know?
Still, I’ll remember it because the game so grand, snapshots are bound to stick.
Sooner defensive coordinator Alex Grinch offered one of those snapshots in triple overtime, Texas kicker Cameron Dicker about to try from 33 yards. Blocked by Perrion Winfrey, Grinch never saw it.
The camera trained on the Sooner sideline as Dicker let fly revealed several Sooner personnel going from pensive to ecstatic, yet all it caught of Grinch was his backside, the coach unwilling or unable to watch.
There was a moment it appeared the entirety of the coming week, on sports radio, at least, would be spent rehashing Riley’s decision to throw facing third-and-9 at his own 47 with 2 minutes remaining and Texas out of timeouts, because had the Sooners run the ball, another half-minute-plus could have been taken off the clock.
Broadcasting the game on FOX, analyst Joel Klatt wouldn’t let it go even though he was wrong.
Riley’s decision yielded the first down that would have put the game away had Austin Stogner only caught Spenser Rattler’s perfect throw and no coach need apologize for that.
Lost in the chaos of the amazingness of the finish, too, was the fact that, had Stogner made the catch, and OT been eluded, the story of the game would have been Riley for something entirely different, his decision to bench Rattler for Tanner Mordecai the last three possessions of the first half.
OU scored no points under Mordecai’s direction, nor did it turn the ball over, which was the point, Rattler having done it twice already.
Not lost in the chaos is how Rattler responded: wonderfully in the third quarter and OT, and had Stogner only caught the ball thrown him with 2 minutes remaining, the quarterback would have been given credit for the fourth quarter, too.
Nobody’s likely to remember, either, that Stogner and Charleston Rambo both dropped touchdown passes in the second overtime, only to be bailed out by Rattler and his offensive line, enabling a half-yard sneak for a fourth-down score.
Oh, and OU got three turnovers, yet still failed to win the category, the Sooners’ two picks and fumble recovery canceled out by the Longhorns’ single pick and two recoveries.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was pretty great, too. So great, he may retire a Longhorn hero even though he will have quarterbacked the program through a still-not-remotely-up-to-par era.
Before the contest reached Mount Rushmore status, there were lots of words, ready to be written if only what the Sooners managed in the third quarter could be contained.
The offensive line had come to life, springing T.J. Pledger for 94 yards before the originally scheduled final frame even began.
Rattler had responded so well to being benched; Riley had offered the courage to do the benching; Grinch’s defense had turned stiff and forced two turnovers, too.
It seemed like the Sooners, far from a great team, had at least become a good one.
Then they died.
Then they rose again.
What kind of team they really are, or are bound to be, remains a mystery. Of course, they did win a classic.
Did they ever.