As the adage goes, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
Murphy's Law was certainly in effect for the Texas Longhorns in the Texas Bowl blowout at the hands of a physical Arkansas Razorbacks squad that dominated both lands of scrimmage in a 31-7 victory.
Well, maybe not everything went wrong, as Texas managed not to give up any back-breaking plays on special teams in creating several strong kickoff returns.
But that was one of the few areas that went well for the Longhorns. Midway through the third quarter, the Texas offense had committed 29 penalty yards and had gained only 29 yards on offense.
By the end of the game, Arkansas had out-gained Texas 353-59. The 18 minutes and 50 seconds that the Longhorns possessed the ball were all excruciating.
With 18 rushing attempts for two yards, Texas averaged .1 yards per carry. And with sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes going 13 of 25 for 57 yards, he averaged only 2.3 yards per attempt. That's bad.
In the negative feedback loop that has occurred at other times in the season, the offensive line struggled to create space for the running game but also struggled mightily in pass protection.
And as has happened at other times in the season, the constant pressure in the face of Swoopes quickly had him bringing his eyes down to the pass rush. Sophomore Jake Raulerson started at right tackle, but was benched after struggling in general and committing two false starts specifically. When fellow sophomore Camrhon Hughes replaced him, the results weren't any better.
So it goes.
There were also some critical mistakes by the Horns, like a fumbled handoff on the goal line in the first half that resulted in an Arkansas recovery in the end zone that stretched the lead to a seemingly insurmountable 17-0 deficit.
In assessing what went wrong on the play, it's difficult to tell if Swoopes just took a wrong step or if junior running back Johnathan Gray took the wrong angle towards the line of scrimmage, as a whole was opening up on the right side of the line, but Gray looked headed for a gap on the left side.
Other than a 44-yard drive on eight plays late in the second quarter for the Longhorns, not much went right offensively. On that drive, Swoopes appeared to get in a rhythm, going 4 for 4 and culminating the response to the fumble with an eight-yard touchdown run when he finally pulled a handoff on the zone read. The play had appeared to be there earlier in the game, but Swoopes was once again unwilling or unable to make the right read.
So Swoopes responded just when it seemed like all was lost, as he has done at so many other times in the last several years. Ultimately, however, it wasn't enough to provide any real hope for the future, especially after he missed an open Daje Johnson down the sideline in the third quarter.
The junior wide receiver had been pushed out of bounds on a go route, but recovered to get behind the defender. Had Swoopes left the ball in bounds, it might have gone for an 87-yard touchdown. Instead, Swoopes left the ball just out of bounds and Johnson wasn't able to help out his quarterback by dragging a foot to pull in the reception.
A dropped pass on third down by senior wide receiver John Harris let down his quarterback in the first half and a poor call from the back judge coming in on a play
The struggles of the offense weren't entirely surprisingly giving the fact that Arkansas came into the game with a highly-rated defense and excellent front seven.
Much more frustrating were coverage busts in the secondary that resulted in a touchdown pass just before half that destroyed all the momentum from the touchdown drive in response to the lost fumble. Several plays before, Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen had picked up a first down on a third-down scramble for only his third run of the year of 10 or more yards.
Then he promptly hit wide receiver Drew Morgan on an outward-breaking route in front of Texas coverage for a huge 24-yard gain down to the Texas 10-yard line.
The first touchdown pass in the first quarter was actually well defended by junior cornerback Duke Thomas, whose effort to knock away the pass was close, but not close enough. The recipient of the pass, wide receiver Demetrius Wilson, had not had a catch longer than 26 yards on the season. His touchdown grab against Thomas went for 36 yards.
All told, the offensive ineptitude contributed to the defense spending more than 33 minutes on the field by the time that Arkansas scored a one-yard touchdown with 11:41 left in the game after a 13-play drive that covered close to nine minutes, but gained only 57 yards.
By that point, the Razorbacks had scored more points than the Longhorns had gained yards offensively with a 31-29 advantage. To further encapsulate the offensive ineptitude, this is what the drive chart looked like as Arkansas drove late in the fourth quarter:
With a 29-yard drive on the last Texas possession, which ended when Swoopes threw a terrible interception into double coverage after throwing a line drive that should have been a touch pass for a long touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jacorey Warrick, the Longhorns managed to avoid the worst offensive performance in school history.
So the record for futility still stands as the 50 yards of offense gained against Southwestern in 1950. Small consolation.
One record that did fall? Playing football since 1983 without suffering five losses of 20 or more points in a single season.
In the end, this look from just about summed everything up on a night when virtually everything went wrong and the Texas program took another step back in the long road back to competitiveness.