Gabriel leads No. 12 Oklahoma in ‘team effort’ Red River Rivalry win over No. 3 Texas 

Baker Mayfield called Dillon Gabriel the night before the Red River Rivalry game on Saturday. 

Before clinching a 34-30 win in the Red River Rivalry over No. 3 Texas, Gabriel thought it was special to receive a phone call from someone he said he admires “a bunch.” 

“It was good, man. He’s just a really good dude,” Gabriel said. “He’s a stud. I love the way he plays and just love what he’s all about so really super cool to just have that access and that be something from guys who played here. They love this place and I love that about OU.”

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The Sooners captured the victory over Texas, handing the Longhorns their first loss of the season. 

Oklahoma also clinched bowl eligibility with the win, moving to 6-0 after what may be its signature win thus far this season. 

“This is our moment, and I’m a big team guy,” Gabriel said. “This is what we’ve worked for. This is the offseason training with next to these three guys and coach pushing us. This is a team effort and that’s what it was. I always say it — there’s no throw without a block and there’s no pitch without a catch. So just seeing all everyone make plays and find a way to win that’s all that matters. I always say it’s W or L and we just want to find ways to get W’s and keep moving, keep getting better.” 

The magnitude of the win isn’t something Sooners head coach Brent Venables is taking lightly, either. 

“I don’t know how long I’ve coached in the big scheme but there are a whole bunch of really, really big games and 15 of these and this one doesn’t take a backseat to any one of them,” Venables said. “National championships, conference championships just all the scenarios, the moments, the big plays, both sides of the ball.”

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Oklahoma had 1:17 to find a way to usurp Texas’ then-30-27 lead. And with Gabriel under center, the Sooners had just the right tricks. 

Gabriel went 4-for-4 for 56 yards on the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. He found receiver Nic Anderson in the corner of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown pass. 

“Starting out I saw 1:17 on the on the dot and I know we were getting at the 25 so just starting the drive out right, trying to create a completion with Drake (Stoops) across the middle,” Gabriel said. “From there you’re rolling and you kind of got that rhythm, that flow and then I believe I throw to Jalil (Farooq) on the sidelines so he gets another chunk and as time is dwindling as you get to that midfield just knowing we can get three within a 20-yard gain but also a chance to win the game but not taking the sack is in my mind and finding a way to either first down, touchdown or out of bounds.” 

Gabriel finished with 285 passing yards and a touchdown, completing 61% of his passes. It was a performance that’s been a long time coming because he missed the Red River Rivalry game last season, a Texas 49-0 shutout, due to a concussion. 

And a performance it was, and one that stands out to Venables. 

“He is the calmest guy I’ve ever been around at the quarterback position, and he’s got great belief in the players around him, incredibly humble,” Venables said. “He’s been one of the most consistent players in our program from the leadership and showing up every day with the right mindset and bringing out the best in his teammates, so he was fearless. And again, I don’t put any limits on what Dillon can do, and he’s playing as confident as anybody on our on our team right now.”

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Gabriel led the final drive going down the field 75 yards on five plays, something that could be bookmarked as one of his Heisman Trophy moments. 

But that’s not what Gabriel has his attention on. To him, it’s all about the team and Oklahoma’s legacy. 

“I’ll say this, it’s not my main focus,” Gabriel said. “I’m focused on heading into this bye week and getting better, watching the tape and finding ways to get better and then, shoot, taking it one week at a time. And I think as you do that the rest will take care of itself, and I’m a big believer in that. I know it’s at the forefront of what we’re all about so just taking it one week at a time and staying present that will take care of itself.”