The Texas Longhorns are heading to the Big 12 Championship Game next week in Arlington, Texas after holding on for a 24-17 win over the Kansas Jayhawks on Friday.
On a cold, dreary day in Lawrence, Kansas, the Jayhawks were playing their final game under head coach David Beaty, while also auditioning for Les Miles. Meantime, Texas was trying to get to the Big 12 Title game for a chance to win the conference for the first time since 2009.
The Longhorns got the scoring going on their first drive of the game, going 11 plays and 98 yards, capped off with a 26-yard pass from Sam Ehlinger to Collin Johnson. But that would be all the scoring for the rest of the half, as the team traded five straight punts, then Texas picked off Peyton Bender, and two more punts to end the half.
The second half began with two punts in a row, before Texas got back in the end zone. The Longhorns went 52 yards in six plays, including Tre Watson’s 31-yard run to set up a first and goal. The touchdown came on a five-yard pass from Ehlinger to tight end Andrew Beck.
After a turnover on downs, Kansas’ defense began getting worn down, as Texas marched down the field in 10 plays for 60 yards, ending with Sam Ehlinger bouncing off a few KU defenders for a 3-yard touchdown run. There was still 1:02 left in the third quarter, but based on how the Jayhawks’ offense was playing, this game felt over.
But in the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!”
KU’s star freshman, running back Pooka Williams, ripped off a 57-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to cut it to a two-score deficit, 21-7. On Texas’ next drive, Sam Ehlinger was picked off. But then, two players later, the Longhorns returned the favor and picked off Peyton Bender. That drive ended with a 34-yard field goal from Cameron Dicker and Texas went up 24-7.
The two teams traded punts, but then the Jayhawks mounted a nine-play, 70-yard drive, ending with a three-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Bender to Daylon Charlot. The Jayhawks then recovered the on side kick and Gabriel Rui knocked through a 45-yard field goal.
However, with another onside kick coming, the Jayhawks were unable to recover it and the Longhorns were able to run out the clock and pick up the win to improve to 9-3 on the season, 7-2 in Big 12 play and clinch a spot in next week’s Big 12 Championship game.
It wasn’t pretty, but Tom Herman was just trying to get the win any way possible, saying after the game, to FS1, “Our guys were resilient. All you gotta do is win by one and we got it done.”
They did just that, and as Herman also added after the win, “We’re overachieving.” Don’t tell Texas fans that. If you told them in 2009 they’d have to wait until 2018 for another chance at a Big 12 title, some of them might have been found at the bottom of Lake Travis.
The Longhorns will now await the winner of the West Virginia vs. Oklahoma game tonight in Morgantown, where the winner will also advance to AT&T Stadium next week.
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