It’s all over at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Texas, which was a 10-point favorite today, has beaten Texas Tech, ending the regular season and saying goodbye to its outgoing seniors with a 49-24 win.
Playing in cold and rainy conditions that reminded us of the 2015 win over Kansas State, the Longhorns looked generally uninterested while falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter but then turned it on offensively and clamped down defensively in the second half. For one day, anyway, all looked right again for a team that really has been dragging for the last month.
Why Texas (7-5, 5-4) won
As sluggish as the Longhorns looked on both sides of the ball in the first quarter, things turned around for both. The defense gave up the yards (470) but produced a goal-line stand and a couple of costly turnovers. The offense produced seven touchdowns and 610 yards — the second-best output of the season and the first 600-yard game since the win over Kansas; it had scored seven touchdowns in the three previous games. For whatever reason — we’re crediting Malcolm Roach’s sack to close the first quarter — the Horns woke up in a big way, came from behind a 14-point hole, took charge to lead at halftime, put it away in the third quarter and cruised in for the win. When Casey Thompson is playing the last third of the fourth quarter because you simply want him to get some snaps, that’s a good thing.
Why Texas Tech (4-8, 2-6) lost
The Red Raiders have had some close-call losses in Matt Wells’ first season, but couldn’t sustain their quick 14-0 start. Jett Duffey had success picking apart the Texas secondary, but also took some ill-timed sacks and the Raiders struggled on fourth downs, going only 1 of 4. That included two failed fourth-down passes into the end zone. Not having Jordyn Brooks, Tech’s Butkus Award finalist who’s facing shoulder surgery, really hurt.
What this win means
Well, for starters, 7-5 sounds and feels a whole lot better than 6-6, especially when you consider that the Longhorns had lost three of their last four games and had to earn that one win in there with a walk-off field goal. Texas now waits for its bowl invitation; we’ll find out next Sunday whether the Horns will end up in the Camping World Bowl or the Liberty Bowl or the Texas Bowl. Spending the next several weeks looking forward to the extra practices and the bowl will be a lot easier knowing the offense looked like it did back in September and the defense made some plays.
1. In the quarterbacks matchup, Sam Ehlinger gets the nod. He was 19 of 27 for 348 yards and a pair of touchdowns and added 83 yards and another score in the running game. Duffey was 35 of 57 for 398 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked four times and lost a fumble.
2. Collin Johnson and Anthony Cook missed the game with injuries. Keaontay Ingram, who was questionable with a bad ankle, was able to play but was generally ineffective. At one point or another, safety Caden Sterns, linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch and running back Roschon Johnson all left the game, but they each returned.
3. Texas won the end of the first, second and third quarters. And each one was important:
- To close the first quarter, Malcolm Roach sacked Jett Duffey for a 10-yard loss on third-and-8. It (a) forced Tech’s first punt of the game, (b) helped put Cameron Dicker’s blocked extra-point kick in the rearview mirror, (c) seemed to snap awake both the crowd and sideline, and (d) came one play after Caden Sterns had left with a rib injury, which had caused a further energy suck at DKR.
- To close the first half, Marqez Bimage recovered a Duffey fumble at Texas’ 26 with 22 seconds to go. It came after Keondre Coburn’s sack forced the fumble, and it likely prevented Tech points, preserving Texas’ 28-21 hafltime lead.
- To close the third quarter, the Raiders — trailing 42-24 — went for it on fourth-and-11 from Texas’ 36. Duffey underthrew T.J. Vasher, and the Horns took over on downs.
4. Tech finished with 82 snaps. The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 averaging 77.5 plays per game.
5. It’s senior day, the final home games for guys like Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay and Zach Shackelford and Brandon Jones and Malcolm Roach. Which seniors went out strong?
- Devin Duvernay had six catches for 199 yards and a 75-yard touchdown. He became only the third Longhorn to ever snag 100 catches in a season, and had the longest touchdown catch of the past three seasons. We thought it would be hard replacing Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s 2018 production from the slot, but Duvernay made the position switch look easy peasy this season.
- Malcolm Roach had four tackles, two for loss, and a big sack on the final play of the first quarter that seemed to ignite the crowd and sideline for the first time in the game. He also made a play in Texas’ second-quarter goal-line stand.
- Brandon Jones led the team with 12 tackles. He was active all day.
- Offensive player of the game: Devin Duvernay. The senior caught his 100th pass of the season when he hauled in Ehlinger’s 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Only Jordan Shipley and Kwame Cavil have had 100-catch seasons at Texas.
- Defensive player of the game: Marqez Bimage. The junior defensive lineman had a sack, a tackle for loss, a fumble recovery to take away Tech points at the end of the first half and a forced fumble that led to Texas points in the fourth quarter.
- Ehlinger passed Major Applewhite on Friday for career passing yards, and is now in second place in school history. He trails only Colt McCoy.
- Freshman receiver Jake Smith scored on a pretty 26-yard touchdown pass play in the third quarter. It was his sixth touchdown of the season but his first since the Kansas game.
- Jared Wiley recorded his first career catch. It went for a first down, too.
- Kenyatta Watson II had a couple of pass breakups, including one in the end zone on fourth down to punctuate Texas’ big goal-line stand in the second quarter. Tech had a first-and-goal from the 2.
1st quarter: Punt, downs, TD
2nd quarter: TD, punt, TD, TD
3rd quarter: TD, TD
4th quarter: Punt, punt, TD, punt
The Longhorns had three three-and-out drives. And they were 6 of 12 on third-down conversions, back up to 50%. They were in the mid-50s when they were ranked No. 2 in the country on third-down conversions.
The last five Texas-Texas Tech games
2015: Texas Tech, 48-45 (Austin)
2016: Texas, 45-37 (Lubbock)
2017: Texas Tech, 27-23 (Austin)
2018: No. 15 Texas, 41-34 (Lubbock)
2019: Texas, 49-24 (Austin)
Next up for Texas: A bowl game
But which one? Maybe the Camping World Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 28 against an ACC team? Or the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 31 against a SEC team? Or another Texas Bowl in Houston on Dec. 27? Texas will find out next Sunday, on Dec. 8.
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