It’s all over at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. No. 19-ranked Texas — a 7-point underdog today — has lost at Iowa State, 23-21.
There were lots of momentum switches, big plays, clutch calls and back-and-forths, but if you’re looking to answer how the Longhorns lost this one, it came down to this:
On fourth-and-5 with less than two minutes left, Iowa State — trailing 21-20 — lined up for a 42-yard field goal try by redshirt freshman Brayden Narveson. It’s good, and Sam Ehlinger would have had one final shot to rally Texas. It’s no good, and the Longhorns likely win by running out the clock.
Instead, Joseph Ossai was called for offside.
That gave the Cyclones new life. And the opportunity to run out the clock with Texas out of timeouts.
Connor Assalley drove his 36-yard effort right through the uprights, and Iowa State — with its four losses by 11 points this season — won it on the final play, the crowd going wild to the tune of “Sweet Caroline.”
The good news: Texas covered, struggled for most of the game but heated up when it had to, and put itself in position to win.
The bad news: So much for the Big 12 championship game hopes.
Why Texas (6-4, 4-3) lost
The offense slumbered throughout the first three quarters, save for one 30-second spurt at the very end of the first half, and committed several key mistakes in the final three minutes — a critical pass interference penalty and an even more critical offside. Why the Longhorns, who looked electric in the passing game in the fourth quarter, decided to try to run out the clock with three minutes left, we’ll never know. Well, we’ll certainly ask, of course.
Why Iowa State (6-4, 4-3) won
Well, the Cyclones were due. After all those one-possession heartbreaks, including last week in Norman, they finally got it done at the end. Texas had dominated this series, taking a 14-2 series edge and three straight double-digit wins over the Cyclones into Saturday. Brock Purdy went over the 3,000-yard mark and the Cyclones controlled the third quarter and the final two minutes.
What this loss means
The Longhorns will play in a bowl game, but they won’t play in the Big 12 championship game. That may very well be an Oklahoma-Baylor rematch no matter what happens tonight in Waco.
- We’ve already mentioned this, but Texas’ decision to go conservative nursing a 21-20 lead with three minutes left really hurt. There was an Ehlinger carry for no gain, then a Keaontay Ingram run for no gain, and then a weak pass to Devin Duvernay that wouldn’t have resulted in a first down anyway.
- Texas finished with only 54 rushing yards.
- So much for momentum. The Longhorns really stunk it up for the first 29 minutes of the game, then caught fire in the passing game on that furious 75-yard touchdown drive that took only 30 seconds. That made it a 10-7 game at halftime and the momentum at the break. But it took all of 15 seconds in the third quarter to deflate the balloon.
- Iowa State started the second half by going touchdown, field goal. Texas started out with punt, punt.
- Both Iowa State touchdown throws were to wide-open players. Both were Texas coverage busts. One was short (to Charlie Kolar, from 2 yards out) and one was long (75, to Deshaunte Jones, streaking on a post).
- Woulda, coulda, shoulda interceptions that couldn’t be controlled: Montelle Estelle at the end of the first half, then DeMarvion Overshown early in the second, and Brandon Jones late in the third quarter.
- Collin Johnson missed the game with a sore hamstring. That opened the door for Eagles, who finished with four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. There was a Malcolm Epps catch and an Alvonte Woodard catch and a Marques Washington target. John Burt had two balls thrown to him as well. Jake Smith got one look but didn’t catch it.
- B.J. Foster was shaken up in the first quarter. He was replaced by Estelle. Joseph Ossai left early in the third, but returned later. Caden Sterns left limping with four-and-a-half minutes left in the third. Foster was back in the game in the fourth quarter.
- Jeffrey McCulloch (one tackle) was back on the field. Still no sign of Jordan Whittington, who looks like he’s going to redshirt this season. Texas seems content to let Keaontay Ingram (8 carries for 9 yards) and Roschon Johnson (6-18) take care of things in the run game.
- Were third downs a halftime topic of discussion? Texas ranks No. 4 in the country when it comes to converting third downs, but the Longhorns were as cold as Ames today. Texas was 1 of 8 on third downs in the first half and finished 6 of 17. And that’s even with those clutch conversions in the fourth quarter.
- Texas had eight three-and-out drives.
- This is the second game without Ryan Bujcevski, who broke his collarbone in the loss at TCU. Chris Naggar, who averaged 40 yards last week in the win over Kansas State, averaged 40.7 today. Texas has averaged about three punts a game this season. The Horns had to punt nine times today.
How Texas fared on first, second, third and fourth downs:
First downs: Texas averaged 2.2 yards on first downs. The Horns ran it nine times and passed it 19 times.
Second downs: The average second down play was second-and-9. The average gain on second down was 3.6 yards, including incompletions. (And including a 35-yard catch).
Third downs: Texas, which ranks fourth nationally in third-down conversions, was 6 of 17 today. The average play needed was third-and-6.
Fourth downs: Texas went 1 for 2 on fourth downs. One was a turnover on downs. One was a touchdown.
- D’Shawn Jamison picked Purdy off on a slant route early in the second quarter. It was his third pick of the season.
- Devin Duvernay had a really pretty catch on a high pass from Ehlinger on third-and-15. He caught it and tapped his right foot just inbounds; the play was reviewed and upheld.
- Caden Sterns closed quickly on a third-and-1 rollout on the first play of the second quarter. He stopped Purdy for a 2-yard loss; the Cyclones went for it on fourth-and-3 and turned it over on an incompletion. That incompletion was thrown to a receiver that Sterns was covering.
- On a gotta-convert it play — third-and-10 at Iowa State’s 22, trailing 20-7 at the start of the fourth quarter — Ehlinger hit an open Ingram with a soft lob for the touchdown. It was Ingram’s seventh touchdown scored this season. More importantly, it made this a 20-14 game.
- Naggar pulled a rugby punt from his sleeve at a critical moment — three minutes left, Texas nursing a 1-point lead and backed up at its own 15 — and it resulted in a monster 67-yard kick and roll down to the Cyclones’ 18.
- Whoever was responsible for the coverage breakdown on Iowa State’s first drive, as Kolar somehow went uncovered in the end zone on a short first-and-goal at the 2. Brandon Jones looked like the likely culprit.
- Speaking of blown coverages, next time Deshaunte Jones runs a post, it’s a good idea to cover him.
- The reshuffled right side of the offensive line looked OK in pass protection, but no so much on running plays. Denzel Okafor, the new right tackle, was flagged for a false start in the third quarter and Ehlinger was stopped for a 1-yard loss on a keeper to the right on a fourth-and-2 in the first half.
- John Burt couldn’t come up with a 40-yard grab on third-and-11 in the third quarter and Texas trailing, 20-7. The pass led him perhaps a bit too much, but we’ve seen Burt come up with those before and, given the game circumstances, the Horns needed the senior to come up with it.
- Samuel Cosmi was called for holding in the fourth quarter, halting momentum on a drive that had been churning and had reached Iowa State’s 38. It created a first-and-20, and Eagles then was flagged for offensive pass interferenceg a first-and-2
- Jalen Greens and Caden Sterns were called for pass interference penalties on back-to-back plays on Iowa State’s come-from-behind drive in the closing minutes. Green’s was declined because La’Michael Pettway came down with the 22-yard catch anyway. But after those two plays, Iowa State was at Texas’ 30 with two-and-a-half minutes to go and the Horns leading, 21-20.
First quarter: Punt, punt, punt
Second quarter: Punt, downs, punt, TD
Third quarter: Punt, punt, punt
Fourth quarter: TD, punt
The last five Texas-Iowa State results
2015: Iowa State, 24-0 (Ames)
2016: Texas, 27-6 (Austin)
2017: Texas, 17-7 (Ames)
2018: No. 13 Texas, 24-10 (Austin)
2019: Iowa State, 23-21 (Ames)
Next up for Texas: Baylor
It’ll either be an 2:30 or 7 p.m. kickoff in Waco next Saturday. That’s up to Fox to decide. But you can bet on 2:30 after this Texas loss.
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