A deeper look inside Texas’ 27-23 loss to Texas Tech:
Why Texas (6-6, 5-4 Big 12) lost
Critical mistakes in the closing minutes. Ehlinger’s two picks were real killers — the first, with 2:06 left in the game, set up the Red Raiders’ winning touchdown and the second, with 55 seconds left, sealed the loss as Texas was trying to mount a final-minute comeback. The loss ruined a stellar night from Michael Dickson and a solid effort (again) by the Texas defense, which forced two turnovers and had three sacks. Ehlinger, who again was up and down, had more ups than downs — until the final few minutes of the game, that is. The Longhorns were 11 of 15 for 175 yards in the first quarter, but only 9 of 30 for 148 yards in the final three quarters. In all, the Longhorns committed four turnovers and were ultimately doomed by their failure to punch it into the end zone on two first-half drives that stalled inside the 3-yard line. Texas instead had to settle for 19- and 20-yard field goals. In all, the Longhorns ran eight plays inside Tech’s 3-yard line and came away with a pair of field goals.
Why Texas Tech (6-6, 3-6) won
Because Nic Shimonek was benched for only three quarters, not four. He entered the game in the fourth quarter and threw two touchdown drives to give the Red Raiders their biggest comeback since 2004. Because the defense came up with those two season-saving interceptions in the final four minutes of the game. And maybe because the Red Raiders simply had to have this one. There’s a reason why players ended up dancing in the locker room. Kliff Kingsbury, fighting for his job, must have had a good reason for benching Shimonek in favor of McLane Carter, who had three long completions of 41, 51 and 40 yards but also was picked off twice himself.
The Eyes of Texas
The Longhorns kept their eyes on three specific Red Raiders — Shimonek, a fifth-year senior with 3,451 yards and 28 touchdowns against only eight picks heading into the game; wide receiver Keke Coutee, one of only 12 players in the country with 1,000 receiving yards heading into this week; and linebacker Dakota Allen, Tech’s leading tackler.
How’d they do?
Shimonek didn’t get into the game until the fourth quarter, but finished 4 of 8 for 96 yards and two big touchdowns.
Coutee had a big night. He led Tech with nine catches for 168 yards.
Allen also had a big game. He led the team with 13 tackles and had a sack and a tackle for loss.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey didn’t finish with eye-popping stats, but was involved throughout the night. He had a 21-yard reception. He lofted a nicely-placed pass to Ehlinger for a 27-yard gain on Texas’ opening touchdown drive. And he added a 37-yard kickoff return.
Joshua Rowland was a perfect 3 for 3 on field goals, knocking kicks in from 20, 19 and 40 yards. The 40-yarder is the second-longest field goal of the season for Texas.
Armanti Foreman led the team with five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, on Senior Night.
Kris Boyd set up a touchdown with a 44-yard interception return down to Tech’s 9-yard line. He also prevented a touchdown with a goal-line tackle, he forced a punt by breaking up a third-down pass in the second quarter, saved another potential touchdown by making a nice open-field tackle at the 22; and had two more pass breakups in the third quarter on back-to-back plays, forcing a punt on the second one. He finished with five breakups.
Gary Johnson came out of nowhere to drop Carter for a 4-yard loss on Tech’s opening drive, forcing a third-and-10; Tech threw incomplete on third down and had to punt. Later, Johnson forced Carter into a hurried pass that went incomplete. He was second on the team with seven tackles.
The defensive tackle combination of Poona Ford and Chris Nelson had six tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss.
This and that
… from Kirk Bohls’ seat in the press box:
Offensive play of the game
Defensive play of the game
On deck: A bowl game
We’ll find out when — and where — Texas will play when bowl matchups are announced on Dec. 3.