In a thrilling showdown at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the No. 7 Texas Longhorns showcased their football prowess by clinching the 2023 Dr Pepper Big 12 Football Championship with a resounding 49-21 victory over No. 18 Oklahoma State. Quarterback Quinn Ewers stole the spotlight, setting a career high with an impressive 452 passing yards and four touchdowns, including a surprising connection with 362-pound defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat.
The Longhorns' journey to victory marked their fourth overall Big 12 football championship title, with previous triumphs in 1996, 2005, and 2009. The 2023 win not only solidified their conference dominance but also kept them in the playoff contention, a prospect Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark expressed strong support for.
Ewers, the standout sophomore quarterback, played a pivotal role in the championship game, completing 35 of 46 passes and distributing his four touchdowns among different receivers. One of the most memorable moments came when Ewers connected with the 362-pound Sweat, who lined up as a tight end and made his first career catch in the end zone. The sheer size and unexpected agility of Sweat left fans in awe as he struck a Heisman Trophy pose, sparking a raucous celebration on the Texas sideline.
Texas wasted no time asserting its dominance, scoring on its first four possessions and establishing a commanding 28-7 lead early in the second quarter. True freshman CJ Baxter contributed to the scoring spree with a 10-yard run, showcasing the team's depth and versatility.
Keilan Robinson, a dynamic player for the Longhorns, added excitement to the game with a 57-yard run for one of his two touchdowns in the second half. Robinson's exceptional skills, coupled with the team's earlier victory over Alabama, reinforced their strong case for a coveted playoff spot.
Oklahoma State, led by national rushing leader Ollie Gordon II, had entered the championship game on a hot streak, winning seven of eight games. However, they faced a formidable challenge in the Texas defense, particularly T’Vondre Sweat and the Big 12's top rushing defense, which allowed only 85 yards on the ground during the regular season. Gordon, who averaged 137.1 yards per game overall, was held to just 34 yards on 13 carries in the face of Texas's defensive prowess.
Despite a valiant effort from Cowboys quarterback Alan Bowman, who threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns, the Longhorns' early lead proved insurmountable for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys' hopes of securing their second Big 12 title in three years were dashed by Texas's relentless offensive and defensive performance.
The postgame atmosphere was electric, with a record-breaking attendance of 84,523 fans, setting a new Big 12 Championship game record. Quinn Ewers rightfully earned the title of the 2023 Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Most Outstanding Player, breaking three Big 12 Championship records in the process. His 458 total yards (452 passing, 6 rushing), 35 completions, and four touchdowns etched his name in the championship's history books.
The offensive spectacle wasn't confined to the final score alone; the first half witnessed a scoring extravaganza as Texas and Oklahoma State combined for 49 points. This marked the highest point total in a half in a title game, surpassing the previous record set in 2001 by Colorado and Texas.
As the Longhorns bask in the glory of their Big 12 Championship triumph, discussions about their potential inclusion in the playoff intensify. Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark's endorsement of Texas's playoff consideration adds an extra layer of excitement for Longhorns fans, who eagerly await the postseason matchups.
In conclusion, the 2023 Dr Pepper Big 12 Football Championship was a spectacle of skill, strategy, and surprising moments. Texas's decisive victory showcased the team's all-around excellence, with Quinn Ewers and T’Vondre Sweat leaving an indelible mark on the championship's history. As the Longhorns await their playoff fate, fans can reflect on a memorable championship game that exceeded expectations and solidified Texas's status as a football powerhouse