It’s all over at Royal-Memorial Stadium. The 15th-ranked Longhorns, needing to take care of business against No. 16 Iowa State, did exactly that — a decisive 24-10 victory that, coupled with Oklahoma State’s 45-41 win over West Virginia in Stillwater, has Texas poised to play in the Big 12 championship game for the first time since 2009.
It comes down to this for Texas: Beat Kansas (3-8, 1-7) on Friday in Lawrence, and it’s a Big 12 title game rematch against Friday’s Oklahoma-West Virginia winner.
The thrilling ending in Stillwater was being shown on the big screen during pregame warmups, and when Cowboys cornerback A.J. Green tipped away Will Grier’s final-play throw into the end zone, Royal-Memorial Stadium erupted.
That play occurred just before the Longhorns and Cyclones kicked off. The stadium already was hopping with a juiced-up student section. With the loser of this game out of the title game picture, Texas (8-3, 6-2) showed up in all kinds of ways:
- Sam Ehlinger was sharp — for a half. He had a touchdown pass and run but took a hard hit at the goal line at the end of the second quarter and did not return.
- In his place, Shane Buechele again guided the Longhorns to a home victory in relief. He found Lil’Jordan Humphrey for a 27-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the Horns a 24-3 lead heading into the fourth.
- Knowing that Iowa State’s David Montgomery — the second leading rusher in the Big 12 — was suspended for the first half, Texas controlled things for a 17-3 lead at halftime that forced the Cyclones to lean on the pass, not the run. Montgomery still had his moments. There were just fewer than the Cyclones needed.
- The offense clicked all night. Well, for three quarters, anyway. But the defense controlled things for most of the game.
The Longhorns had 11 drives — TD, punt, TD, missed FG, FG, punt, TD, punt, punt, punt, fumble
The Cyclones had 11 drives, too — Punt, FG, punt, interception, punt, missed FG, punt, punt, punt, TD, fumble
First quarter (Texas 7, Iowa State 3)
Texas: Ehlinger 7-yard run (Cameron Dicker kick, 8:50)
Iowa State: Connor Assalley 40-yard field goal, 4:47
Second quarter (Halftime — Texas 17, Iowa State 3)
Texas: Keaontay Ingram 19-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 9:53)
Texas: Dicker 22-yard field goal, :02
Third quarter (Texas 24, Iowa State 3)
Texas: Lil’Jordan Humphrey 27-yard pass from Shane Buechele (Dicker kick, :36)
Fourth quarter (Final — Texas 24, Iowa State 10)
Iowa State: David Montgomery 4-yard run (Assalley kick, 1:33)
Big moments: First quarter
1. Anthony Wheeler looked like he took his final home game seriously. He had two tackles on Iowa State’s opening drive, including a sack on third-and-9 to force a punt. He finished the game with 5 tackles, 1 sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
2. Collin Johnson left little doubts on his knee early. He had a high-pointed 35-yard catch on the sideline and a 13-yarder on the first drive. He finished the game with 3 catches for 55 yards.
3. Caden Sterns had a sack. The Cyclones still ended up with points on the drive (a field goal), but seeing Sterns active early was a positive sign. He’s had a couple of cool weeks since he was named a Thorpe Award semifinalist last month.
4. The first official review of the night went Texas’ way, reversing a 28-yard sideline catch by Butler.
Big moments: Second quarter
1. Chris Brown — Sterns’ backup — made the defensive play of the first half when he scooped a tipped pass off Landon Akers’ hands on a third-and-long. It was reviewed and held up, giving the Longhorns the ball at the Cyclones’ 36-yard line and already leading 14-3.
The great field position went for naught, however. The Horns couldn’t capitalize on the short field with points.
2. Speaking of which, Cameron Dicker missed a 28-yard field goal that would’ve given Texas a 17-3 lead with 5:53 left in the half.
3. Watson’s 39-yard run late in the quarter is Texas’ longest run of the season.
Big moments: 3rd quarter
1. It was Shane Buechele, not Sam Ehlinger, who trotted out for Texas for the second half. Ehlinger didn’t emerge from the locker room until after play had started. He emerged from the tunnel with his helmet on, but when the Horns gathered prior to taking the field for their second drive of the quarter, Ehlinger was wearing a headset.
2. David Montgomery, suspended for the first half after getting ejected from last week’s win over Baylor for fighting, made an immediate impact, converting two runs for first downs. But the Cyclones stubbed their toe on their first drive. Iowa State, trailing 17-3, decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 at Texas’ 25 with 4:50 left but a false start penalty changed that to a 48-yard field goal try; Connor Assalley’s attempt clanged off the left upright, no good.
Big moments: Fourth quarter
1. Iowa State, trailing by three touchdowns, lifted Purdy with 5:14 to go.
2. The Cyclones’ best play of the day was a 47-yard punt return by Tarique Milton down to Texas’ 6-yard line. Montgomery scored with 1:33 left.
3. That should have been it, but the Longhorns made it interesting when Daniel Young fumbled the ball at Iowa State’s 43-yard line with 1:26 left in the game.
4. But, no worries. On third down, freshman linebacker Joseph Ossai knocked the ball loose on a sack of Purdy. Charles Omenihu recovered, and the Longhorns took a knee to end the game.
Up next for Texas
The Longhorns play Kansas on Friday at 11 a.m. It’ll be carried on Fox Sports 1. A win in Lawrence sends Texas to Arlington for its first Big 12 title game appearance since Hunter Lawrence sent UT into the 2009 national championship game with his last-second field goal to beat Nebraska.
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