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Inside the Numbers: Texas dominated the ground on both sides of the ball

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The Longhorns controlled the running game in San Antonio, whether it was Bijan Robinson’s explosiveness or limiting Jarek Broussard.

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Texas vs Colorado American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Texas Longhorns under Tom Herman did what they do in a bowl game, came out and performed well, dominating the Colorado Buffaloes 55-23 to cap off a 7-3 season. Texas played well enough to get some backups in late, including a walk-on quarterback to end the game.

Texas managed to put distance between them and the Buffaloes thanks in large part to an offensive explosion from underclassmen, led by freshman phenom BIjan Robinson.

Bijan Robinson: 10 carries, 183 yards (18.3 ypg), TD.

In the final two games of this season, fans got a glimpse of what makes Bijan Robinson so special and he’s already done work to put his name beside some of the top backs in school history. His rushing total against Colorado gives him the freshman bowl game record for both the school and the Big 12 conference, the fourth-most in a Texas bowl game, and the sixth-best rushing total from a freshman. He becomes just the sixth player in school history to record at least three 100-yard rushing games, joining Cedric Benson and Adrian Walker in the exclusive group.

However, it’s Robinson’s explosiveness that has been a differentiator for Texas.

Robinson was responsible for five explosive plays against Colorado, giving him 14 of the 66 explosive plays for the Longhorns on the year. A year ago, Texas had just 28 plays all year longer than 20 yards, 2018 featured just 26, while Tom Herman’s first year at the helm featured only 19. Robinson finished tied No. 9 nationally in runs longer than 20 yards and second behind Breece Hall in the conference. His chunk plays were good enough to put his name another place in the record book, breaking the Longhorns’ season yards per carry total, a mark that stood since 1961.

Jarek Broussard: 27 rushes, 82 yards (3.04 ypc), 2 TD

The Longhorns defense once again clued in on what makes an offense tick and made the choice to shut that aspect down. Coming into the game, Broussard averaged 162.6 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry, with the Longhorns holding him to just his second sub-100 performance of the year and his lowest yards per carry total of the year.

For Texas, however, this tells the tale of a team who made a complete 180 against the run this year.

Texas allowed three-consecutive 100-yard rushers to open conference play for a grand total of 355 yards, going 1-2 in the process. Since that performance, Texas has allowed just one 100-yard rusher — Kansas State‘s Deuce Vaughn — and held the premiere rushers on their schedule in check.

Team: Turnover Margin +3 (3 gained, 0 Lost)

For the second-consecutive game, the Longhorns turned their opponent over three times, while not surrendering the ball a single time, cementing the +9 turnover margin of the season, the third-highest mark of the last 10 seasons and the second year the Longhorns achieved that margin under Herman. Since 2017, Texas is 20-4 with a positive turnover margin, with three of those four losses coming in 2019 against the LSU Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners and Iowa State Cyclones.

Under Herman, Texas has forced three or more turnovers 13 times, winning 12 of those contests, the one loss coming this year against the aforementioned Sooners in the rivalry game. Texas struggled with turnovers themselves that game, giving the ball away three times.

That type of defensive performance should give Texas a lot to build on in the offseason, especially in a year where they’re juggling losing top-tier pass rushing talent while keeping experience in the secondary. Potentially facing a full offseason should give Texas an opportunity to make strides both in execution and schematically heading into 2021.