- Texas senior defensive end Charles Omenihu said he's not looking to "repeat his emotions" with next trip to Kansas.
- The Longhorns put up their most dominant and complete performance of the season with a 24-10 victory.
- Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said the Longhorns "were the more physical football team."
And now Texas will return to the scene of the grime.
That will be in Lawrence, Kan., where they heaped dirt on the Longhorns head coach in 2016. Texas will go there for a Friday morning kickoff trying to atone for some stained history although tailback Tre Watson was playing for the Cal Bears then, and no teammate has told him anything about what transpired there on Nov. 19, 2016.
“Nothing,” Watson said after Saturday’s 24-10 win over Iowa State. “Why, what happened?”
A lot, Tre. A helluva lot.
Basically, Charlie Strong met his demise there in Lawrence with 24-21 loss. One week later he was pink-slipped by Texas after a desultory 16-21 record, but his tenure effectively came to a crashing conclusion in the Midwest with the Longhorns’ first loss at Kansas since 1938. It’d been a minute.
“I’d better not repeat that same emotion,” said senior defensive end Charles Omenihu, who was crestfallen after that debacle.
Now two years after folding in overtime against Kansas, the 15th-ranked Longhorns will arrive there with much different circumstances and with more fanfare and far less fan disgust.
They’re at the opposite end of the college football spectrum these days, just having waylaid the 16th-rated Iowa State Cyclones in Texas’ finest performance of the season. The win sets up a decisive meeting where a victory can clinch a spot for Tom Herman’s bunch in the Big 12 championship game in December.
Lo and behold, after losing two straight and barely surviving a fourth-quarter onslaught by Texas Tech on the road last week, a complete and very aroused Texas team showed up at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday night for its final home game, the last for 26 seniors.
And what a show it was. It was, by far, a game with one of the most engaged home crowds in a decade and the best overall game these 8-3 Longhorns have played all season.
“The better team tonight won the football game,” Iowa State’s Matt Campbell said. “Quite honestly, they were the more physical team.”
Texas dominated a good opponent. When’s the last time anyone could say that, save for the first three quarters versus Oklahoma?
This was a monster game against a legitimately good Iowa State team that had walloped West Virginia a few weeks ago and had won five straight conference games for the first time in its history. And the Longhorns pulled it off without their starting quarterback for the second half.
This was a defensive performance that belied that unit’s misfortunes all season long and aggressively overwhelmed the Cyclones.
This was an electric night when the energy never dissipated, most of the 102,498 fans lit up their cellphones in the second half, the Texas governor was high-fiving players afterward and all things seemed possible.
“A helluva night,” athletic director Chris Del Conte crowed. “A great celebration. The crowd is phenomenal. A great day for Texas.”
What a fun night at DKR. In fact, other than the athletic director’s hideous orange, checkered sports coat and a recurring shoulder injury to quarterback Sam Ehlinger, it was perfect.
Shane Buechele, in relief, was perfect, hitting all 10 of his passes after starting the second half. The defense was ravenous, pressuring Cyclones quarterbacks for six sacks, creating two turnovers and limiting Iowa State to a paltry 12 first downs and no touchdown until the final 93 seconds. Watson averaged 6.6 yards a carry on a 93-yard night, and Keaontay Ingram averaged 4.8 in his 57 yards.
Texas (8-3, 6-2 Big 12) appears to be peaking at just the right time. Win one more, and the Longhorns will face next week’s OU-West Virginia winner with a chance to go probably to the Sugar or Fiesta bowl. Wouldn’t a Texas-Ohio State bowl matchup be delicious?
“Are we playing our best ball?” Herman said. “I don’t know. I mean, we played good tonight. We’ll see how we play on (Friday).”
That’s true because Texas has often played to its competition. But Kansas did put up a bunch in a 55-40 loss to No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday.
When told the score, Longhorns defensive end Breckyn Hager, who had braided his pigtails, bellowed, “Hey, OU has no defense. It’s 11:12 and OU still sucks.”
Be that as it may, the Jayhawks suddenly have a modicum of momentum and a spark under lame-duck coach David Beaty, which is why no one in orange is looking past them. Not even Del Conte in his ugly coat.
“Hey,” he offered in rebuttal, “this coat is currently 1-0.”
One more 1-0, and Texas will be in a very good place and cast off some ugly history. Who knows, Hager might even get a trim.