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Inside the Numbers: A Texas comeback for the ages against Texas Tech

The Longhorns looked like they were dead in the water, but turned things on a dime to win.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 9 Texas Longhorns once again survived a trip to Lubbock.

It was downright ugly at times, but it seems Texas has finally transitioned from needing to play its best to being able to win ugly. It took a Herculean effort in the fourth quarter and overtime to come away with a win, but not everybody came out of Saturday unblemished.

Fourth quarter and overtime: 22 points, 2:33

Texas boasts one of the fastest offenses in the country and it came in handy Saturday against Texas Tech in the comeback. Heading into the weekend, the Longhorns led the country with five scoring drives shorter than two minutes. Texas added two more with the game on the line, in addition to a short-field touchdown following an interception late in the first half, bringing their season total to eight. The ability to strike fast was instrumental in overcoming a 15-point deficit with the game slipping away.

The come-from-behind victory also marked the first time in Herman’s time at Texas that the team has entered the fourth quarter trailing and managed to win. The improbable comeback actually borders on impossible — teams that trail by 15 or more in the fourth quarter are 12-1,853 over the last five years. That means that Texas had a 0.6 percent chance of winning Saturday’s game regardless of when that deficit occurred in the fourth quarter.

It helps to have a quarterback like Sam Ehlinger, who notched the fifth game-winning drive of his career, putting him one game shy of Major Applewhite for the school record.

Sam Ehlinger: 27-40, 262 yards, 5 TD, INT; 16 rushes, 88 yards, TD

Ehlinger was not quite as surgical as he was two weeks ago, but the captain poured it on late to propel Texas to the win and continue his assault on the record books.

After opening the game with six consecutive completions, Ehlinger was unable to string together more than three completions for the vast majority of the game. However, on the final three drives, during which Texas pulled off its improbable comeback, Ehlinger completed seven consecutive passes for 79 yards and three scores.

More than half of Ehlinger’s total yardage on the day came during those two streaks.

Ehlinger got his rushing touchdown out of the way first — No. 26 for his career — tying him for second all-time with Marty Atkins for rushing touchdowns by a Texas quarterback. His second-quarter touchdown pass marked the 15th time in his career that he’s had a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown, moving ahead of Colt McCoy for sole possession of the school record. With that pass, Ehlinger also became just the second player in school history, along with McCoy, to record more than 100 total touchdowns.

Third downs: Texas — 5/16 Texas Tech — 8/16

Regardless of the side of the ball, Texas struggled on third downs.

On the year, the Longhorns actually one of the worst teams in the conference (No. 7) and No. 50 in the country on the money down. The Red Raiders did a great job of putting the Longhorns behind the chains and keeping them off balance.

Texas had an average distance of 8.5 yards to gain on third down, managing an average of just 3.5 yards gained. Texas actually converted just two first downs longer than five yards and were 0-5 on distances longer than nine yards.

Defensively, Texas was unable to get off of the field on third down, especially late in the third quarter when the Red Raiders made their big run. Four of Tech’s eight third-down conversions came in the third quarter, a contributing factor to Tech’s nearly seven-minute time of possession advantage and 21 points scored in that quarter.

But the defense turned it on when it counted, holding Tech to just one conversion on three attempts in the fourth quarter, including coming up with the stop that made overtime inevitable.

Texas has a lot to work on in the bye week before Texas Tech, but when it’s all said and done a win is a win. The Longhorns now have to get it together quickly as Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs come to Austin.