'Of course, we're devastated': Overtime loss to Kansas leaves Texas' season on life support
Ovie Oghoufo didn't need to say much Saturday night.
He was one of three Texas players who were tasked with speaking to the media after the Longhorns' 57-56 overtime loss to Kansas. The stunning upset — Texas was favored by 31 points — came on the Jayhawks' two-point conversion in the first overtime, and it extended UT's losing streak to five games, the program's longest skid since Texas lost the final eight games of the 1956 season.
Now, to reach a bowl game, Texas (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) must win both of its last two regular-season games. Texas will travel to West Virginia, which fell at Kansas State on Saturday, this weekend and close at home against the Wildcats the day after Thanksgiving.
Oghoufo was asked how frustrated the players were.
"Very frustrated," the defensive lineman said. "Extremely frustrated."
Were they devastated?
"Of course, we're devastated."
The Longhorns and Jayhawks combined to run 155 plays, score 113 points and put up 994 yards of offense. The game, though, came down to a 3-yard play that was counted on the scoreboard if not the stat sheet.
Needing to match the touchdown Texas scored to open the overtime session, Kansas capped a four-play drive with a 2-yard run by Devin Neal, the shifty freshman who rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns.
With Texas' lead at 56-55, the Jayhawks called a timeout and kept their offense on the field to go for the win. Quarterback Jalon Daniels, who started in place of the injured Jason Bean, rolled to his right and found fullback Jared Casey in the end zone for the winning score.
Rock, chalk, Jayhawk walk-off.
"We let the lead slip away, but we talked about trying to finish and playing hard for 60 minutes. We did it and then some," Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. The Jayhawks snapped an 18-game losing streak in conference play. "I’m so proud of them, and hopefully it’s something we’re going to build on.”
Daniels' conversion pass in overtime was the knockout punch that Texas failed to deliver at the end of regulation. Quarterback Casey Thompson found tight end Cade Brewer for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left in the game, making it 49-48 Kansas, but UT coach Steve Sarkisian didn't put much thought into trying a two-point conversion for the win, and the Longhorns, who had trailed by 21 points in the third quarter, settled for the 49-49 tie and the extra period.
After Texas went up 56-49, on Kansas' second snap of its overtime possession, Daniels threw into the end zone. Texas safety Brenden Schooler, a converted wide receiver who had 55 career catches, dropped what would have been a game-ending interception.
"It's easy to look at one play late in the game, saying, ‘Oh, that's why we lost,’” Sarkisian said. "That's not why we lost the game. We lost the game because we didn't play good in the first half.
"We played a really bad first half of football or we wouldn't have been in that situation at the end of the game. We can't look at one play at the end of the game and say that's why we lost. We lost because the first 30 minutes of football was bad ball."
Ah, yes, that first half. Kansas stunned the announced crowd of 95,202 by scoring touchdowns on its first two drives. Texas battled back to tie it 14-14, but three touchdowns in an 85-second span at the end of the first half lifted the Jayhawks to a 35-14 halftime lead.
The Longhorns were undone by three first-half turnovers. Kansas turned fumbles by Thompson and Hudson Card into touchdown drives, and Jacobee Bryant returned a Card interception 31 yards for another score.
"The turnovers killed us," Thompson said. "Obviously the first half, when we got down by a large deficit, we can't do that. College football is a competitive sport. Every Saturday, any team is able to win at any given moment. The turnovers didn't help that at all."
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Saturday's game featured plenty of news and notes. Casey, for example, had never played an offensive snap for the Jayhawks before Saturday night. The UT defense has now yielded a 100-yard rushing performance in six straight games.
After a 152-yard, three-touchdown effort, Xavier Worthy set school freshman receiving records for yards (831) and touchdown catches (11). Marcus Washington had 100 receiving yards and blocked a punt, but his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after making the overtime catch allowed Kansas to start its winning drive at the 12. And Thompson joined Colt McCoy as the only Longhorns to throw six touchdown passes in a game.
Running back Bijan Robinson left the game near the end of the third quarter. Sarkisian said that Robinson, who has rushed for 1,127 yards and scored 15 touchdowns this season, suffered an elbow injury.
"We'll address that moving forward. I don't want to make any predictions now," he said.
Like Texas, West Virginia is 4-6 and 2-5 in the Big 12. Kansas State is tied for fourth place in the conference standings with its 4-3 mark. The Longhorns haven't missed the postseason since 2016.
"We're capable of winning any game," Worthy said. "We've just come up a little short in the end."