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Texas’ notable number: The Longhorns' recent trouble with turnovers — and the number 2

Texas wide receiver Joshua Moore fumbles in the first half of the 31-24 loss at Baylor on Oct. 30. The Longhorns have committed 11 turnovers this season. Seven have come in the past four games — all UT losses.

Each week this season, we’re looking at a specific number tied to Texas football.

This week’s notable number is 2 — the jersey that Texas has assigned to running back Roschon Johnson. Texas tight end Jared Wiley has scored a touchdown on two of his six receptions this season. The two longest passes UT has ever completed in a bowl game were James Street's 79- and 78-yard passes to Cotton Speyrer in the 1969 Cotton Bowl. Two also is the number of fumbles that sophomore running back Bijan Robinson lost in last Saturday's 30-7 loss at Iowa State.

Fumbling hadn't been a problem for Robinson over his first 17 games in a Texas uniform. In fact, he had recorded 249 career carries and 30 career receptions ahead of the trip to Ames. He had never lost a fumble.

But on rushing attempt No. 250, Robinson was stripped at the end of a 14-yard run. Iowa State eventually turned the turnover into a 3-0 lead when it capped the gift drive with a 24-yard field goal.

"I think the first (fumble) was tough," Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. "Bijan is an ultimate competitor. He's fighting for extra yards, and he refused to go down. He had two hands on the ball, he had it wrapped tight, but ultimately, when they've got 10 guys around you and they're all yanking at the ball, sometimes it can get hard if they get a good grip and get it out.

"We're just trying to teach him the effort, the competitiveness is there. Sometimes you've got to be wise and cut your losses and get down at that point. It wasn't about a technique or it wasn't about an effort; they ended up ripping the ball out right before he went to the ground."

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Robinson lost his second fumble in the fourth quarter when, as Sarkisian described, he "kind of pinballed himself off two or three guys right there. He had good pad level. It looks like the ball is high and tight. Sometimes that happens." Robinson exited with a neck strain on the play, and Iowa State made Texas pay for the miscue again with another field goal.

For the season, Texas has committed 11 turnovers. Nationally, only 48 teams have lost fewer. Five of those teams, however, are Big 12 schools.

Seven of UT's 11 giveaways have occurred over the past four games, all of which Texas has lost.

In a 55-48 loss to Oklahoma on Oct. 9, a fumbled kickoff return by Xavier Worthy led to a Sooners score in the fourth quarter. The next week against Oklahoma State, a Casey Thompson interception that was returned for a touchdown turned out to be a pivotal play in a 32-24 loss that featured another interception on the Longhorns' final possession.

Two mistakes by receiver Joshua Moore, who left the football program this week, led to an interception and a lost fumble in Baylor territory during a 31-24 defeat Oct. 30. Then Iowa State turned Robinson's fumbles into six points.

"We can't have that many turnovers," Texas tight end Cade Brewer said. "That's been one of our big points of emphasis, is not turning the ball over, and we've turned the ball over way too many times. Coach Sark said (Monday) that he'll throw a big party for us if we don't have any turnovers."

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On Saturday, Texas will host a Kansas team that has intercepted three passes and recovered five fumbles. Texas and Kansas did not play last year because of COVID-19, but the Longhorns' last turnover-free performance in this series came in 1996.

Kansas has forced 12 turnovers in its last four meetings with Texas. Six were recorded in the Jayhawks' overtime upset in 2016.