Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Dream Season Keeps Rolling At Texas

texas dream season

It could be a dream season in the making for Texas after an overtime win over Kansas State and the Big 12 title game is now within sight.  The Longhorns stayed on their path toward a championship with three games left on the schedule.  Their backup quarterback won his second straight game start despite playing shaky at times, and the Texas defense completely shut down the Kansas State running game.

Texas (8-1, 5-1) got another win while making life hard on itself.  The Longhorns raced to a 17-0 lead before holding the door open for Kansas State to rally.  It required a team effort by Texas to turn back the Wildcats.  Life got even better for Texas when Oklahoma lost to Oklahoma State.

Texas fans have been looking at the 2023 Longhorns as a team of destiny.  Kansas State (6-3, 4-2) went for the win in overtime instead of attempting a field goal.  The decision may have cost the defending Big 12 champions a chance at going back to the title game.  Texas forced the Wildcats to rely on the arm of Will Howard, and he came close to delivering a storybook ending.  He threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns in a heartbreaking defeat that ended at the Texas 4-yard line.

Dominant Defense

The dream season has been relying on the defense for the past few weeks.  Against Kansas State, the Longhorns got another MVP performance from T’Vondre Sweat.  He had four tackles with a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits, and two passes broken up.  The senior turned in another dominant performance and has been elevating himself in the eyes of NFL scouts.  He spearheaded a defense that smothered Kansas State, holding the Wildcats to two of 14 on third-down conversion attempts.

Kansas State ran the ball 29 times for 33 yards for a meager average of just over one yard per attempt.  It placed a heavy burden on Howard, who turned in a resilient effort on 26 of 42 passing.  Texas kept the pressure on the senior quarterback, getting two sacks from Ethan Burke and another by Barryn Sorrell.  We told you in the summer that the Texas edge rushers were due for a breakout season, and they are playing their best football right now.

Ryan Watts and Jaylan Ford contributed with eight tackles each, and Michael Taaffe made seven tackles and had an interception.  The Longhorns’ defense rose to the occasion when it mattered most, snuffing out the Wildcats on the final play of the game when Kansas State Head Coach Chris Klieman elected to go for the win.

Quarterback Quandary

Backup quarterback Maalik Murphy got off to a hot start in the first quarter.  He connected on 7 of 11 passes for 152 yards and a 37-yard scoring toss to Adonai Mitchell on the Longhorns’ second drive.  Then he cooled off, going 5 of 10 for 23 yards while looking uncomfortable and off balance.

Murphy was out of step for most of the game.  He finished the day 19 for 37 with 248 yards and two interceptions and remained unbeaten as the Longhorns’ starter.  Head Coach Steve Sarkisian showed confidence in his young quarterback, however.  The redshirt freshman rebounded, leading his team on a 14-play drive that went 69 yards and resulted in a field goal late in the fourth quarter.  Like last week’s win over BYU, Murphy did enough to keep Texas’ hopes alive for a spot in the Big 12 Championship game while starter Quinn Ewers continues to sit out with a shoulder injury.

Mitchell’s Magic

Murphy needed a reliable target to get the win for Texas and Mitchell stepped up.  The Georgia transfer caught eight passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.  He provides the Longhorns with a reliable threat alongside fellow wideout Xavier Worthy, who had five catches for 48 yards.  The combination of Mitchell and Worthy has been a dangerous tandem for opposing defenses throughout the dream season.

Mitchell has totaled 37 receptions for 576 yards and eight touchdowns this year, while Worthy has amassed 49 catches for 620 yards and four scores.  Together they make a formidable duo as Texas makes its way down the home stretch.

Redzone Reality

Texas has struggled all season in the red zone while relying on big plays to generate points.  The trend continued against Kansas State, as Mitchell’s 37-yard catch and a 54-yard scoring run by CJ Baxter sparked the Longhorns to a big lead early.  The good news is that placekicker Bert Auburn was dialed in, hitting field goals of 32, 49, and 34 yards.

The troubles in the red zone almost caught up with Texas, which saw a 27-7 advantage over Kansas State disappear as the game progressed.  The Longhorns are hopeful Ewers can return to action and inject some life into the offense.  Texas will be on the road for two of its final three games of the regular season.  It remains in the running for a spot in the College Football Playoff with a no. 7 ranking.

Fickle Frogs

Texas will travel to Fort Worth next week for a game against TCU (4-5, 2-4).  The Horned Frogs are a shadow of the team that played its way into the playoffs a year ago.  An upset over Texas would salvage their season and keep TCU in contention for a bowl bid.

TCU turned in a scrappy performance Thursday in a 35-28 loss to Texas Tech.  The Frogs have been hampered by injuries this year and have been struggling with freshman Josh Hoover at quarterback.  Their hope is to shock the world and upset the visiting Longhorns next week.  Texas has faced this scenario every week this season.  Whether Ewers returns from injury or Murphy makes his third straight start, the Longhorns will be taking their dream season on the road against another dangerous opponent.


texas dream season
Photo courtesy: Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK



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