So that's how winning feels: Texas ends its season with much-needed win over Kansas State
How's this for a twist to end Texas' season?
The Longhorns trailed at halftime. And then WON the second half.
Texas' DEFENSE, which has been so maligned all season, came up with three huge stops in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
And consider this: the Longhorns actually shut out the Wildcats in the final two quarters.
And a Texas tailback's big day saved the game. No surprise there, except this time it was Bijan Robinson watching from the sideline as Roschon Johnson led the way.
Quarterback, pass rush, offensive line depth, injury: Plenty of issues ahead for Texas Longhorns
Takeaways from today's game:
What a way for the defense to go out
Texas' defensive line came up with three big stops in the fourth quarter, stuffing the Wildcats on third-and-1 at Kansas State's own 36-yard line thanks to a Keondre Coburn tackle, and then Moro Ojomo made the play on fourth-and-1. It helped the Longhorns start at the 36 and gave them a short field for what turned out to be the winning field goal.
And then Coburn made an even bigger play on K-State's next drive, stuffing quarterback Will Howard on an option keeper on fourth-and-1 at Texas' 17-yard line with 4:03 left. That let the Longhorns essentially run the clock out.
Roschon Johnson ends season in style
No Bijan Robinson, no problem.
Last year, Roschon Johnson rushed for a career-high 139 yards against the Wildcats. On Friday, he led the Longhorns to the win by being the workhorse of the offense. Johnson finished with 31 carries for 179 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, thriving out of the Wildcat and adding a completed pass and a reception.
It was the second-best rushing performance of the season for Texas.
So, what does this win mean?
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian specifically pointed to four reasons why he felt winning this game was important:
1. It would help Texas finish this season strong.
2. It would send the seniors out with a win.
3. It would assure fans that the program is at least headed into the right direction.
4. And it would send a message to teams on the 2022 schedule that next season will be different than this season.
So, now that Texas has won, where are we on those four points?
1. It helped the Longhorns finish this season with a win thanks to a fairly strong showing. But it's still a season that saw Texas close with six losses in its final seven games. Did seeing the defensive line make those three big plays make us feel the direction of the defense is heading the right way? No. This was just one game.
2. It absolutely sent the seniors out with a win.
3. Are fans thinking this thing is heading in the right direction because Texas beat Kansas State? Probably not. They're hopeful, is more like it. A loss today would have surely left a bad taste in Longhorn Nation's mouth. Who wants a seven-game losing streak to seep into recruiting, the offseason and spring football?
4. Sure, it probably sent some sort of message to 2022 teams. But really, what 2022 team wouldn't already be on guard given Sarkisian will have nine months to make tweaks and fixes and upgrades? Even if Texas had lost its final seven games, next year is still next year.
Injuries: QB Hudson Card missed the game with a high ankle sprain. DT Keondre Coburn was shaken up on K-State's first drive, but later returned. LG Tope Imade limped off late in the first quarter. OL Junior Angilau, who left last week's loss at West Virginia late, was shaken up again in the second quarter. DL Moro Ojomo walked off in the second too, but came back in the second half. And Casey Thompson exited in the final minute of the first half, but missed only one play.
Up next for Texas
Oh, sure, there is still a path for the Longhorns (5-7, 3-6 Big 12) to back into a bowl game. Texas needs the rest of the national schedule to work out so that there aren't enough six-win teams out there to fill all the needed bowl slots, which would open things up for some qualifying five-win teams out there.
The 2022 recruiting class currently is No. 7 in the country; the initial early signing period is a little less than one month away.
How the scoring went
1st quarter: Texas 7, Kansas State 7
Texas: The Longhorns efficiently rattled off a 10-play drive that ended with Roschon Johnson's 9-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat. Six runs, four passes — and three of those to Xavier Worthy in the first four plays of the game.
Kansas State: Deuce Vaughn's 9-yard touchdown run seemed pretty appropriate, as the Wildcats running back got the ball five times on the seven-play drive that got started by a Casey Thompson interception.
2nd quarter: Halftime — Kansas State 17, Texas 16
Texas: Cade Brewer scored on a perfectly-placed 10-yard pass from Casey Thompson. Cameron Dicker, however, missed the extra point.
Kansas State: It didn't take long for the Wildcats to answer — and retake the lead. Will Howard, starting at quarterback in place of the injured Skylar Thompson, burned the Longhorns for a 71-yard score on a zone read play. He literally was not touched.
Kansas State: Chris Tennant's 51-yard field goal (a career long) made it a 17-13 game with 1:56 left in the half.
Texas: Dicker's 24-yard field goal literally came as the half expired.
3rd quarter: Texas 19, Kansas State 17
Texas: Another kick by Dicker, this one from 39 yards, put Texas back on top 19-17.
4th quarter: Final — Texas 22, Kansas State 17
Texas: The Longhorns, given a short field on a fourth-down defensive stop at the Wildcats' 36, had to settle for another Dicker field goal, this one from 22 yards out. It made it a 22-17 game with 7:32 left. That held up the rest of the way.