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Inside the Numbers: Self-inflicted wounds once again cost Texas

On the surface, the Longhorns played well enough to win, but couldn’t manage to get out of their own way in crunch time.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

With the loss to the Iowa State Cyclones, the Texas Longhorns saw their hopes of a conference championship come to a close for the season, marking yet another disappointing run for the Longhorns.

Tom Herman’s Longhorns were once again unable to come away with a win in a close game, their third one-score loss of the season and No. 13 in the four years under Herman. As with all of these games, it seems like Texas was unable to capitalize on the opportunities presented, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sam Ehlinger: 17-29, 298 yards, TD. 15 carries, 65 yards, TD.

This was an unceremonious end to one of the most statistically-prolific careers by a Texas quarterback. With his performance on Friday, Sam Ehlinger joins Colt McCoy as the only two Texas quarterbacks to account for more than 11,000 yards of total offense. He also tied McCoy with 11 career games with more than 350 yards of total offense. However, like much of the last several years of Texas football, there came bad with the good.

Although Ehlinger was only sacked two times in the game, both of the sacks came on critical third-down plays for the Texas offense. The first came on what turned out to be the final drive of the first half, losing six yards to set up a punt. Iowa State then went 60 yards over the next three minutes and 47 seconds and would have tied the game going into halftime if not for a Connor Assalley miss. The second crucial sack came with seconds left in the game, taking Texas from a 54 to a 58-yard field goal attempt to tie the game — an attempt that took a slight left turn just before the uprights as time expired.

Defense 5 TFL, 1 Sack

The Texas defense was far from the problem on Saturday, limiting the Cyclones ground game in a way that nobody had all season. For the first time this season, Breece Hall was held with fewer than 100 yards and was held to just one rushing touchdown for the third time this year, the only one of such games that Iowa State managed to win.

Perhaps the only blemish on what was a solid defense performance as the inability to get to the quarterback and make the quarterback uncomfortable, as they did in weeks past. This was one of just three games this year that Texas was without multiple sacks — the narrow overtime win over Texas Tech and the loss to TCU — and the team’s fewest tackles for loss of the year. That lack of impact was part of what allowed Brock Purdy and company to easily march 69 yards in five plays to score the winning touchdown.

Team: 7 penalties, 56 yards

This was actually one of the least-penalized games all season for the Longhorns, but the penalties that did occur seemed to be backbreakers for the team. Early in the game, Texas had the Iowa State on the ropes, leading 10-0 just eight minutes into the game. A stop would have set up Texas to snowball things early, but instead gave the Cyclones two of their three penalty first downs to set up the score to keep things competitive.

Penalties also led to one of the biggest offensive frustrations in the final minutes of the game as well. The Texas defense once again came up with a big stop, forcing a red-zone field goal from the Cyclones instead of giving up the game-tying touchdown. When the offense took over, they quickly got into rhythm and cracked off 65 yards to move to the Cyclones 21-yard line with a chance to make it an 11-point game. A Tarik Black holding penalty made it 1st and 17 and three plays later Ehlinger is stopped short on a fourth down attempt on the Iowa State 13-yard line.

So what’s left for Texas? The Longhorns don’t have a shot at a conference championship berth, but there’s a big difference between 7-3 and 5-5. The Longhorns can guarantee a winning record with a win over the Wildcats, but still have fallen short of their self-described standards.