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Texas Flexes In Big 12 Finale

Texas flexes

Big 12 teams have proven to be no match this season when Texas flexes the way it did in a 57-7 blowout over Texas Tech.  The Longhorns put together a complete game in the regular-season conference finale and dominated from start to finish.  Texas pulverized the Red Raiders in the Yormark Bowl and booked its place in the Big 12 Championship Game next weekend in Arlington.

Texas (11-1, 8-1) avenged last year’s overtime loss to Tech.  The win was especially sweet for Texas fans with Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark in attendance.  Yormark spread kerosene on the Texas-Texas Tech rivalry last summer when he encouraged the Red Raiders to “Take care of business” against the Longhorns.  A video clip of Yormark’s comments was broadcast during the second half of the Longhorns’ rout to the delight of Texas fans.

Texas probably didn’t need the commissioner to ratchet up the intensity against Texas Tech (6-6, 5-4).  The teams have played every year since 1960 and the first matchup was in 1928.  Texas rumbled into the final game with their rivals like a team on a vendetta.

Auburn On Fire

At the risk of being redundant, give it up for Bert Auburn.  When Texas flexes its muscles on special teams, the junior kicker is usually the story.  The hottest kicker in the NCAA the last two weeks, Auburn was perfect against Texas Tech, nailing five field goals including a career-high 54-yarder.

Auburn has converted 19 straight field goals and has not missed since the Kansas game in late September.  He has hit 28 of 33 attempts this season but was left off the list of semifinalists for the 2023 Lou Groza Award.  He now owns the Texas single-season record for field goals with two games still to play.

Texas Flexes on Defense

Tech quarterback Behren Morton’s 2-yard touchdown run was the lone highlight for the visitors.  Texas only sacked Morton twice but held him to 88 yards through the air on 19 of 36 passing.  The Longhorns harassed the besieged sophomore into throwing three interceptions.

Tahj Brooks came into the game as the best Big 12 running back not named Ollie Gordon.  Brooks churned out 100 yards on 19 carries, but the Longhorns were so dominant that it didn’t matter.  Brooks’ longest play from scrimmage was a 25-yard run.  There was nobody to pick up the slack for the Red Raiders.  Their top receiver was Coy Eakin with four catches for 27 yards.

Break Out The Young Guns

As impressive as it looks when Texas flexes, it has rarely done so for an entire game this season.  The Longhorns’ most complete performances were a 35-6 win over BYU and a 38-6 takedown of Baylor.  The 40-14 blowout of Kansas looked good on paper, but Texas only led 13-7 at halftime.  Texas’ penchant for ugly, inconsistent performances kept many of the young prospects on the bench.

That changed against Texas Tech.  Jaydon Blue rushed 10 times for 121 yards and a touchdown.  The sophomore has staked his claim as another viable option to fill in for the injured Jonathan Brooks.  True freshman Quintrevion Wisner had seven carries for 60 yards and a touchdown.  Even with the injury to Brooks, Texas has one of the deepest running backs rooms in the nation.  But the biggest name of the freshman class this year has been quarterback Arch Manning, who finally made his Longhorns debut.  He completed 2 of 5 passes for 30 yards and rushed three times for 17 yards.

The Grey Lining

Texas was penalized nine times for 69 yards.  Maalik Murphy suffered a freak injury on the sidelines while not playing and left the field in the second half.  Quinn Ewers threw an interception, his fifth of the season.

That’s about it as far as negatives go for the Longhorns.  The Big 12 belongs to the Longhorns when Texas flexes like it did against Tech.  There’s still plenty for Head Coach Steve Sarkisian to focus on while preparing for the Big 12 title game.  The Longhorns converted just 3 of 11 third-down attempts, for example.  They need to cut down on the penalties with a championship game next week and a big bowl game on the horizon.

What’s Next?

Even a win in the Big 12 Championship does not guarantee Texas a spot in the College Football Playoff.  The Longhorns desperately need a good deal of help to move up from their current no. 7 CFP ranking.  But the goal heading into this season was to play for a Big 12 title.  They kept their foot on the gas all season and accomplished that goal.

Texas is most likely headed to the Cotton Bowl without the help it needs from other teams.  The Longhorns have not played in that game since the 2002 season.  It would be a fitting way for them to finish their final year in the Big 12.  The 2023 Longhorns have elevated the program by leaps and bounds above the Alamo Bowl, which Texas played in after the 2022, 2020, and 2019 seasons.  Texas flexes an 11-1 record and is basking in its best season since 2009 when it went 13-1 and lost to Alabama in the National Championship.  The Longhorns can duplicate that record and have a full head of steam heading into next year’s SEC schedule.


Texas flexes
Photo courtesy:  Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK


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