It’s all over at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Texas, which was favored by about a field goal, has beaten No. 22 USC 37-14.
Did we just witness Tom Herman get his signature win at Texas? That’s up for debate. Remember that sky-high overtime win against 10th-ranked Notre Dame to open the 2016 season — against a Fighting Irish team that ended up going 4-8. Herman, who was famously 6-0 against ranked teams while he was at Houston, infamously started out 0-4 vs. ranked teams at Texas. But he has since won two in a row — the 28-14 win over No. 24 last year in Morgantown and this one over the 22nd-ranked Trojans.
Wins over a No. 22 and a No. 24 probably don’t get into that signature win territory. But regardless of rankings, a win over a ranked USC team is big. Very big.
For you history buffs, this was the 1,300th game in Texas football history. And the 900th all-time win. Michigan and Ohio State are the only programs that are in the 900 Victories Club.
Texas’ 800th program win, by the way, came on Jan. 4, 2006 — the 41-38 win over USC in the 2005 BCS national championship game. You know how that one ended.
Saturday night’s win wasn’t nearly as close. In fact, it was all decided by halftime, as it turned out. The Longhorns shut out the Trojans for the final three quarters.
Why Texas (2-1) won
How about six straight scores without a USC answer? Things looked dour at the end of the first quarter, as the Longhorns trailed 14-3. But it was all Texas from there — touchdown, field goal, field goal, touchdown, blocked field goal return for a touchdown, touchdown. A school-record crowd of 103,507 had its breath taken away. We can only assume how the Trojans felt on the field. Sam Ehlinger made plays, Collin Johnson made plays, Lil’Jordan Humphrey made plays, Caden Sterns and Gary Johnson made plays. Texas gained control of the game, seized momentum and controlled the clock. Oh, and it looks like the Longhorns finally have their kicker.
Why No. 22 USC (1-2) lost
JT Daniels is going to be very, very good. But he wasn’t tonight. In fact, he pretty much looked like a highly-coveted five-star quarterback who graduated high school a whole year early to play college football. He looked flustered at times, he threw off the mark at times and he also made some plays. The Trojans lost their composure in their second straight prime-time loss. They were flagged 10 times for 99 yards, including several costly ones — a targeting ejection of linebacker Porter Gustin, who not only missed virtually the entire second half but also will sit out the first two quarters of the Washington State game; a roughing the passer penalty; a roughing the punter penalty; an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The national ranking will go away when the new polls come out.
How it all went down
USC 14, Texas 3. The Trojans sandwiched a punt with two touchdown drives and accumulated 129 yards of offense. Both touchdowns were runs, but it was freshman quarterback JT Daniels who was the star; he completed passes to seven different Trojans. Texas got on the scoreboard as Cameron Dicker booted the first field goal of his career. That UT scoring drive, however, was a bit disappointing as the Horns had first-and-goal at the 8 but failed to get it into the end zone on two runs and a pass.
USC: Stephen Carr 23-yard run (Chase McGrath kick, 10:48)
Texas: Cameron Dicker 20-yard field goal, 6:19
USC: Vavae Malepeai 3-yard run (McGrath kick, :33)
Halftime: Texas 16, USC 14. A pair of field goals from Dicker followed a brilliant touchdown catch by Lil’Jordan Humphrey, whose spin move left a USC defensive back in his tracks on the way to a 47-yard score. The Longhorns escaped disaster on a near safety that had to be reviewed, and Kris Boyd picked off JT Daniels.
Texas: Lil’Jordan Humphrey 47-yard pass from Sam Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 13:23)
Texas: Dicker 46-yard field goal, 10:39
Texas: Dicker 46-yard field goal, 0:00
Texas 37, USC 14. The Trojans were dealt a triple blow all on one play — their top defensive player, linebacker Gastin Porter, was ejected for a targeting penalty on a hit that knocked Ehlinger’s helmet off. Texas went on to score a touchdown for the 23-14 lead and now Porter will miss the first half of next week’s game. Caden Sterns blocked Chase McGrath’s 50-yard field goal attempt and the ensuing touchdown return to make it 30-14 pretty much put this game away.
Texas: Joshua Moore 27-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 10:45)
Texas: Anthony Wheeler 46-yard blocked field goal return (Dicker kick, 6:25)
Texas: Ehlinger 4-yard run (Dicker kick, 1:42)
Final: Texas 37, USC 14. Things settled down after the Longhorns’ flurry of scores over the previous two quarters — six straight scores that went unanswered. Freshman safety B.J. Foster had the hit of the game, but also was ejected for targeting on the play; he’ll miss the first half of the TCU game. USC’s last real shots at points came with 4 minutes left, with a third-and-7 at Texas’ 24. But the Trojans went backward and ended up with nothing.
- USC’s Porter Gustin knocked Ehlinger’s helmet off on Texas’ first drive of the second half. He was flagged for targeting and was ejected from the game, taking away the Trojans’ best defensive player.
- Did USC record a safety in the second quarter? It was close. A review showed that while most of Ehlinger was in the end zone, the ball itself was just over the chalk. Texas ended up punting, but Ryan Bujcevski was hit by a USC player on the play and the Longhorns were given new life.
- A key goal line stand for Texas in the second quarter really turned things around, especially for momentum purposes.
- Anthony Wheeler’s 46-yard blocked field goal attempt for a touchdown was the second-longest touchdown of the season for Texas. And it happened because of freshman safety Caden Sterns, who blocked it.
- That 47-yard touchdown pass from Ehlinger to Humphrey in the second quarter was all Humphrey; he had a brilliant spin move after the catch, clearing him for the final 35 or 40 yards for the score.
Tonight’s superlative performances and plays:
- Ehlinger’s 47-yard touchdown pass to Humphrey was Texas’ longest touchdown pass and pass play of the season. Humphrey also has the season’s second-longest catch (40, vs. Tulsa).
- Joshua Moore’s 27-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was the fifth-longest touchdown play of the season.
- Dicker’s three field goals were the first of the season for the Longhorns.
First quarter: FG, punt
Second quarter: TD, FG, punt, FG
Third quarter: TD, fumble, TD, TD
Fourth quarter: Punt, punt
First quarter: TD, punt, TD
Second quarter: Interception, downs, punt
Third quarter: Punt, blocked FG, punt, punt
Fourth quarter: Punt, downs
Spotted at DKR: Vince Young, Roger Clemens, Mo Bamba, Matthew McConaughey, Gov. Abbott. We assume USC superfan Will Ferrell was there, but we didn’t see him.
Next up for Texas
No. 15 TCU (Saturday, Sept. 22, DKR, 3:30 p.m., Fox)
The Longhorns open their Big 12 schedule. It’s also the second game in what should end up being a season-defining four-game gauntlet — at home vs. USC, at home vs. TCU, at Kansas State in always-treacherous Manhattan, and vs. Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl.
The last five Texas-TCU matchups:
2013: Texas 30, TCU 7 (Fort Worth)
2014: No. 6 TCU 48, Texas 10 (Austin)
2015: No. 4 TCU 50, Texas 7 (Fort Worth)
2016: TCU 31, Texas 9 (Austin)
2017: No. 10 TCU 24, Texas 7 (Fort Worth)
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