Football

A light shining in the darkness: A look back at Texas’ 10 best wins over the last 50 games

The last 50 games haven't been ALL bad. A bowl win, some upsets of ranked teams and a few school records broken are among the highlights.

Posted August 29th, 2018

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They say time flies when you’re having fun. What about when you’re going 23-27, though?

Thanks to those 27 losses, many Texas fans would probably like to forget the last four seasons. To steal a montage from the basketball court, however, there has been one shining moment (or two). The last four seasons, after all, have included a 2,000-yard rusher who won the Doak Walker Award, six wins over ranked teams and a few school records set along the way.

Here are 10 moments from the past four seasons that the Longhorns should fondly remember:

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No. 10: Texas 38, North Texas 7 (2014)

Strong, the 29th head coach in Longhorns history, posted a 31-point win in his Texas debut replacing Mack Brown. Malcolm Brown rushed for two touchdowns and linebacker Demarco Cobb scored on one of the Longhorns’ four interceptions.

But while the 2014 opener was Strong’s first game at Texas, it was the last one for two of his most important players. Quarterback David Ash suffered a concussion during the game, began to experience effects from it later that night and ended up retiring from football two days later. And Dominic Espinosa, who had logged 40 starts at center, saw his season end with a leg injury.

No. 9: Texas 40, Kansas State 34 (2017)

Kansas State has perennially been a thorn in UT’s side, but the Longhorns have scored memorable victories in the Wildcats’ last two trips to Austin. In 2017, Chris Warren III scored on a 2-yard run in the second overtime to seal the victory. UT trailed 10-0 in the second quarter but Ehlinger’s 487 yards of offense and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps’ 12 catches led the team to victory.

In the second overtime, Ehlinger endeared himself to UT fans when he ran over a Kansas State defender on a 9-yard gain. When asked later if that was his biggest highlight, Ehlinger downplayed it: “He was being blocked when I ran right into him. Although it looks good on Twitter and on GIFs, that wasn’t (it).”

UT head coach Charlie Strong celebrates with fans after beating Baylor at McLane Stadium in Waco on Saturday December 5, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

No. 8: Texas 23, No. 12 Baylor 17 (2015)

The Longhorns and Bears tangled in a mid-game ruckus that introduced the world to DeShon Elliott’s shadow boxing skills, but it was Texas that delivered the knockout punch in Waco. Baylor, beset by quarterback injuries, had to run out a receiver as its emergency quarterback and Texas took advantage. The Bears were held to their lowest point total of a 10-win season. Swoopes threw a 57-yard touchdown pass in the win.

The season-ending win was one of five wins that Strong’s teams recorded over a ranked foe. His last win over a ranked team was the aforementioned 35-34 upset of eighth-ranked Baylor in Austin in 2016.

No. 7: Texas 28, Oklahoma State 7 (2014)

Speaking of clinching a bowl berth on the road, Texas was in Stillwater when it earned its sixth win of the 2014 season, Strong’s first year. Swoopes, the after Ash’ departures,  threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns, the last big passing game of his UT career. It also was the last time Strong would steer Texas to bowl-eligiblity.

No. 6: Texas 28, No 24 West Virginia 14 (2017)

The Longhorns, needing one win in their final two games to earn a bowl bid, traveled to Morgantown with their eyes on an upset over the 24th-ranked Mountaineers. Brandon Jones’ game-changing hit not only forced West Virginia quarterback Will Grier to fumble as he dove into the end zone, but also resulted in Grier injuring his finger. He’d miss the rest of the game and season. Ehlinger replaced Shane Buechele in relief and the Longhorns earned a big win.

It was UT’s first triumph over a ranked team in a true road game since it closed out the 2015 season with a 23-17 win at No. 12 Baylor.

LUBBOCK, TX – NOVEMBER 05: D’Onta Foreman #33 of the Texas Longhorns reacts to scoring a touchdown during the first half of the game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Texas Longhorns on November 5, 2016 at AT&T Jones Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)

No. 5: Texas 45, Texas Tech 37 (2016)

Foreman’s 341-yard outburst in Lubbock stands as the third-biggest game in UT history. The key play in that eight-point win, though, was made by the defense. With Texas Tech eyeing a last-second tying score, Red Raiders quarterback Patrick Mahomes II was intercepted by Kris Boyd in the end zone.

The interception was the first of Boyd’s career. The then-sophomore was covering Cameron Batson, who had caught two touchdowns that day.

No. 4: Texas 35, Baylor 34 (2016)

Texas beat a ranked Baylor team and actually made a kick when something was on the line. The burnt-orange headlines from the one-point upset of the No. 8-ranked Bears were stolen by Foreman, though.

He rushed for 250 yards in the first of three 250-yard outings for him in a four-game stretch. His 2,028 rushing yards that season rank behind only Ricky Williams’ 2,124-yard season of 1998, the year he won the Heisman Trophy. Foreman’s 13 straight 100-yard performances the 2015 and 2016 seasons are also the new standard at UT.

Texas, though, was largely unable to capitalize on Foreman’s production in 2016. After an eighth-place finish in the Heisman voting, he entered the NFL draft and became a third-round pick of the Houston Texans.

No. 3: Texas 33, Missouri 16 (Texas Bowl, 2017)

Texas, which hadn’t won a bowl game since the 2012 Alamo Bowl, ended Tom Herman’s first year on a positive note with a shellacking of Missouri. Playing without eight starters due to injuries, suspensions and early departures to the NFL draft, the short-handed Longhorns still held Missouri’s potent offense in check.

Texas punter Michael Dickson — who averaged 41.1 yards on 11 punts, 10 of which were inside the 15-yard line and four inside the 5 — was the game’s MVP; it was the Ray Guy Award winner’s final game as a Longhorn. Two of the biggest headlines: Defensive end Breckyn Hager wore the retired No. 60 to honor the late Tommy Nobis. Herman was caught imitating the celebratory dance done by Missouri quarterback Drew Lock in the waning minutes.

Texas coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the Longhorns beat the Oklahoma Sooners 24-17 during the AT&T Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl on October 10, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

No. 2: Texas 24, Oklahoma 17 (2015)

UT’s last win over Oklahoma may be remembered more for Strong being tossed around on the shoulders of his celebrating players. The game had plenty of highlights that didn’t include crowd surfing, though: Jerrod Heard and Foreman each exceeded 100 rushing yards, and Swoopes accounted for two touchdowns.

The Texas Longhorns celebrate defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 50-47 in double overtime at Royal-Memorial Stadium on September 4, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

No. 1: Texas 50, Notre Dame 47 (2016)

In front of the largest crowd at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Swoopes scored on a 6-yard run in the second overtime to secure a season-opening upset. The win seemingly marked the Texas’ return to the national spotlight: The Longhorns bolted up to No. 11 in the next week’s Top 25 rankings.

Of course, looking back, some things were too good to be true. The Fighting Irish were not as good as advertised, finishing 4-8 that year. And Texas was out of the national rankings a couple of weeks later. UT finished 5-7, and Charlie Strong was fired.

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