STILLWATER, Okla. — Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger returned from a shoulder injury on Saturday, but his four touchdowns weren’t enough for the Longhorns in a 38-35 loss to Oklahoma State.
Ehlinger threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns while completing 22 of his 42 passes. He also ran 10 times for 47 yards and two more touchdowns. The sophomore started slow — he threw incomplete on five of his seven attempts and UT had three three-and-outs in the first half — but he eventually guided Texas to its third-highest points total of the season.
No. 6 Texas dropped to 4-1 in Big 12 play with the loss. The Longhorns (6-2) will host West Virginia (6-1, 4-1 Big 12) next Saturday in a game that will kick off at 2:30 p.m.
“We did this to ourselves,” Ehlinger said. “Hats off to them, they played an excellent game. We did not play our best and that showed.”
Ehlinger sprained his right shoulder on the first drive of the Baylor game on Oct. 13. With Texas off last week, Ehlinger was given an extra week to rest and rehab and he began throwing again this past Sunday. Ehlinger practiced all week but did not take all the first-team reps.
When asked if he was limited against the Cowboys, Ehlinger said he felt great and that his practice schedule was not a factor. Head coach Tom Herman surmised that Ehlinger’s play was not affected by his shoulder. Junior receiver Collin Johnson also said he thought Ehlinger looked good.
“The whole team just has to play better if we want to win,” Johnson said. “We win as a team and we lose as a team at the end of the day.”
Costly call: Texas was flagged 11 times for 86 yards. Perhaps the oddest penalty also was the costliest.
With Texas trailing 24-14 in the second quarter, Oklahoma State faced a fourth-and-1 at midfield. The Cowboys lined up to punt but then called an audible to a different formation. As the two guards shifted closer to the deep snapper, UT defensive lineman Ta’Quon Graham jumped offside and was penalized.
Four plays later, Oklahoma State turned another fourth-down attempt into a 36-yard touchdown pass.
Texas wanted Oklahoma State to be called for a pre-snap infraction. Herman berated the officiating crew during a timeout, and he said after the game that he was told the Cowboys had made a legal shift. It was the coach’s understanding, however, that a set interior lineman can’t shift if he is covered.
“Maybe I’ve been coaching it wrong for 20 years,” Herman said. “I’m going to have to go re-look up the rule myself.”
Texas’ top targets: Johnson finished with a team-high five catches and 65 receiving yards, but his streak of four straight games with a touchdown ended. That was tied for the fifth-longest run in school history.
Tight end Andrew Beck’s 10-yard touchdown catch was the third of his career, and two of those scores have come in Stillwater. Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who was suspended for the first series, led the Longhorns with 69 receiving yards. Freshman running back Keaontay Ingram’s 22-yard score in the third quarter was his first career touchdown catch.
Guest of honor: Allowing 126.4 yards per game, Texas entered the week with the NCAA’s 31st-best run defense. Justice Hill, though, led Oklahoma State with 92 rushing yards and Chuba Hubbard added another 80 yards on the ground. Neither of those players were the greatest running back in an Oklahoma State jersey on Saturday night, though.
Wearing his throwback jersey, Oklahoma State legend Barry Sanders was on hand for the homecoming victory. Sanders was in town as Oklahoma State celebrated the 30th anniversary of his 1988 Heisman Trophy season. During a second-quarter ceremony, he and his former offensive linemen — who were dubbed the “War Pigs” — were recognized.
Sanders was the center of attention two weeks after Texas honored Ricky Williams, who won the 1998 Heisman Trophy.