Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Another second half collapse dooms Texas in sobering loss to No. 12 Oklahoma State

We wondered all week about whether Texas, coming off a heartbreaking 55-48 last-second loss to Oklahoma, would suffer any type of Red River hangover against Oklahoma State.

Yes, there was a hangover.

Here's Texas' 32-24 loss in a nutshell: Again, the Horns looked like they were poised to deliver a knockout blow, but couldn't, then collapsed offensively and defensively in the final two quarters.

Casey Thompson, dealing with a banged-up thumb suffered last week, failed to do what he's been so good at: directing scoring drives. Bijan Robinson was good, but not great. Too many penalties — and not just the number of, but the ones that were so costly that seemed to come in 15-yard chunks. The defense looked gassed in the second half at the same point the offense looked disinterested, and it allowed Oklahoma State to hang around and eventually rally back.

Last week, Texas was up 41-23 after the third quarter and ended up getting outscored 25-7 in the fourth. Texas was closing in on possibly going up 20-3 or even 24-3 in the second quarter, but a big OSU pick-six turned this game around. The Horns never quite looked the same. After trailing 24-13, the Cowboys scored 19 straight points.

In the fourth quarter, Texas was outgained 175-6.

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson is sacked by Oklahoma State defensive lineman Kody Waltershcheid, left, and linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez during the first half of Saturday's 32-24 Cowboys victory. The loss dropped Texas to 4-3 on the season, 2-2 in the Big 12.

Texas, which was a 3.5-point favorite against an undefeated team ranked 12th in the country that had beaten the Longhorns in seven of the last nine years, led by four at halftime and only two with 10 minutes left. Really, just like last week against Oklahoma, the Horns lost the second half: four straight three-and-out drives — including two that finished with negative yardage — after going up 24-13 early in the third quarter.

The play of the game: Texas, after four straight three-and-out drives, decided to go for it on fourth-and-3 at its own 42-yard line and with starting center Jake Majors on the sideline, trailing 25-24 with 3:12 left. Thompson was stuffed for no gain.

After that, the Cowboys scored again to make it 32-24 and Thompson threw an interception on Texas' last-gasp drive to tie it.

Takeaways from today's game: 

What does this mean?

It means Texas, which drops to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12, should be considered a longshot to make it to the conference championship game. That's a long five games to maneuver, and the Longhorns will have to get help from some other teams to end up in Arlington. The offense is struggling beyond Bijan Robinson, the defense is getting gashed, and the team is suffering through second half fades in energy, production and results.

Oh, the offensive line still needs to be fixed. Jordan Whittington is really being missed. Thompson is going through a low stretch. We don't know what's wrong yet with DeMarvion Overshown, but something is. And the defense is giving up big runs and is making costly mistakes.

Oct 9, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams (13) is congratulated by running back Kennedy Brooks (26) after a run against the Texas Longhorns during the second quarter at the Cotton Bowl.

Can Bijan Robinson win the Heisman?

Probably not, certainly not now. Texas' talented sophomore is playing on a three-loss team, and though he certainly had his Heisman moment in that long run against Oklahoma, his team lost on the big stage. Then it lost at home one week later.

This is shaping up to be a nontraditional college football season, though, with Cincinnati making a strong Group of Five bid for the playoff, and Georgia, the No. 1 team in the country, doesn't really have a Heisman contender. 

On Saturday, the Fox broadcasters compared him to 2005 winner Reggie Bush on four separate occasions, even texting the former USC great in the second quarter to share his praise for Robinson on air. But consider this: Robinson (21-135-2) wasn't even the best running back on the field for the second week in a row; OSU's Jaylan Warren rushed for 193.

The defense is on the ropes

After giving up nearly 600 yards to Oklahoma, Texas' defense collapsed in the second half Saturday and let Spencer Sanders and Warren take over. And those penalties were so critical — Keondre Coburn's horse-collar penalty on third down that kept an OSU drive alive that ended with a field goal and Ray Thornton's roughing the penalty flag on a third-down incompletion in the second half, which moved OSU into field goal range. And Texas couldn't stop a third-and-11 play at the 32, a screen to Dominic Richardson that went for 24. Another field goal. And there was Warren's 27-yard weave through the defense in the fourth quarter and Sanders' 15-yard draw on second-and-17 just two plays later.

Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski has his work cut out for him.

Up next for Texas: an off week

And it couldn't come at a better time. The Longhorns need to get right.

Texas, which will have two weeks of soul searching, now faces back-to-back road challenges — at a very game Baylor team on Oct. 30, then at Iowa State on Nov. 6.

Texcetera

Injuries: Overshown — Texas' best defensive player — was lost in the first quarter; he headed into the locker room and emerged in street clothes for the second half. CB Josh Thompson was shaken up on the opening kickoff of the second half, but missed only one series. CB Kitan Crawford, who's played well on special teams, was helped off after a punt play early in the fourth quarter. And C Jake Majors hobbled off with 4:15 left, forcing another offensive line reshuffle at the worst time. ... The Horns won the coin flip for the second straight week, and for the second straight week Sarkisian wanted the ball. Last week he was rewarded with a 75-yard touchdown catch on the very first play, and on Saturday he got an 11-yard, 75-yard touchdown drive that ate up nearly 5 minutes. Which was more gratifying? ... Hudson Card entered the game at the very end of the third quarter when Thompson was shaken up. Card had one play — a handoff to Robinson — before Thompson came back in. Of note, that was Card's fifth appearance in a game this season, which places him beyond the NCAA-minimum four in order to save his redshirt.

How the scoring went:

1st quarter: Texas 10, OSU 3

Texas: Bijan Robinson's first touchdown of the day came on Texas' first drive of the day.

OSU: A Tanner Brown 21-yard field goal to make it 7-3; Keondre Coburn's horse-collar tackle penalty kept the drive alive, but the defense stiffened once the Cowboys reached the 10.

Texas: The Longhorns answered OSU's short field goal with a short field goal of their own, a 28-yarder from Cameron Dicker.

2nd quarter: Halftime — Texas 17, OSU 13

Texas: Robinson's second score of the day looked like his first score of the season — a flare pass out of the backfield.

OSU: A disastrous turn of events for the Horns, who reached OSU's 18-yard line and were trying to go up 24-3; Casey Thompson telegraphed a slant pass and Cowboys cornerback Jason Taylor II picked it off and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown. Instead of a 20-3 or 24-3 lead, it became a 17-10 one-possession game.

OSU: Brown's second field goal, from 39 yards out, cut Texas' lead to four at the break.

Third quarter: Texas 24, OSU 16

Texas: Robinson, sprung by blocks from new left tackle Christian Jones and tight end Cade Brewer, scored from 38 yards out, his fourth-longest touchdown run of the season. It also pushed him over 100 yards for the game.

OSU: Brown's 21-yard field goal made it a one-score game again; Ray Thornton's roughing the passer penalty back on Texas' 46 (on a third-and-long incompletion) kept the drive alive, though.

Fourth quarter: Final — OSU 32, Texas 24

OSU: Spencer Sanders found Brennan Presley in the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown pass that made it 24-22 with 10 minutes left, but linebacker Jaylan Ford preserved the lead with a nice open-field tackle of Jaylan Warren, who had caught a pass out of the backfield.

OSU: Texas' defense definitely bent, but stiffened again inside the 10 to force another Brown field goal, this one from 29 yards out with 4:37 to go. But it gave the Cowboys their first lead of the day, 25-24.

OSU: Sanders scored from 10 yards out, untouched through the middle of the defense, to make it a 32-24 game. But it appeared the Horns may have let him through, knowing they would have 2:18 to score a touchdown and make a two-point conversion to send it to overtime. Which, of course, didn't happen