While Texas looked like they had this game in the bag after jumping out to an early 21-0 lead, Houston exploded back into the game and flirted with an upset before the Longhorns came up with a big stop on fourth down to escape Houston with a 31-24 win on Saturday.
Texas (6-1, 3-1) will host the BYU Cougars next Saturday.
Meanwhile, Houston (3-4, 1-3) continues its confusing run through Big 12 play as the squad prepares to take on the Kansas State Wildcats on the road in Manhattan.
Here are three thoughts on the game and what it means for both teams going forward.
HOUSTON’S BIG THREE WRs LEGIT
Quarterback Donovan Smith has gotten a lot of flack from Big 12 fans but put up impressive performances in back-to-back weeks against some of the top teams in the conference. That includes a comeback win against West Virginia and a close loss to Texas.
The Nevada native has earned his stripes after transferring from Texas Tech following the conclusion of the 2022 season, and while Houston remains as a bit of a wild card in the Big 12 Conference, Smith has shown some fire under center in Houston. The junior signal caller finished his day going 32-46 for 378 yards with three scores and one interception.
The receivers stole the show for Houston with the trio of Samuel Brown, Joseph Manjack, and Matthew Golden being nearly impossible to defend. The trio combined for 17 grabs for 256 yards and three scores consistently putting pressure on the Texas secondary.
While the group may not have gotten a ton of love heading into their first season of Big 12 play, the group is here now and they are lethal.
TEXAS FINDS A WAY
Make no mistake about it — this was not a clean game for the Longhorns. The two Big 12 favorites, Oklahoma and Texas, both struggled against teams with losing records in Week 8. While the post-game comments will likely surround the horrible spot on third and 1 with less than two minutes to go, the Longhorns snuck out a win despite Houston owning much of the momentum in the contest.
The Longhorns finished their day with 360 yards of total offense including an impressive 141 yards on the ground. Outside of rushing yards, Texas did not win the box score, being outgained in total yards, passing yards, yards per play, first downs, and more. Texas takes on BYU in Week 9 and will have a tough task despite some recent struggles from coach Kalani Sitake’s team.
Perhaps the biggest storyline on Saturday afternoon was redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers exiting the game with an injury. Ewers scrambled on third down in the second half and was popped by Houston linebacker David Ugwoegbu, which caused Ewers to abruptly head to the sideline.
The Longhorns found some success with Malik Murphy entering the game but with their star quarterback sidelined, Texas may have some new questions as they continue to work towards earning a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington.
Murphy threw the ball twice in the contest and relied on the Longhorns rushing attack, but with the combination of Jonathon Brooks and CJ Baxter being successful against Houston, can you really blame him and coach Steve Sarkisian?