The Texas Longhorns are now in danger of entering free-fall mode, as Steve Sarkisian’s team collapsed for the second time in as many weeks, falling to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 32-24, despite holding an early 14-point lead.
Here are a few initial thoughts.
The Texas offense collapsed... again. After managing just 10 second-half points last weekend, which forced the defense to spend much more time on the field and thus, wear down as Oklahoma started cruising, it was much of the same for Sark’s offense on Saturday against OSU, only worse. Once on pace to take a commanding 20-3 or 24-3 lead late in the second half, the momentum changed entirely late in the second half when Casey Thompson threw an 85-yard pick six. The following drive — three-and-out. Then, after a lone successful drive on their first possession of the second half, spearheaded by none other than Bijan Robinson, the offense completely stalled, producing an almost-laughable two yards on the next four drives, going three-and-out each time.
Yet, after all of that, trailing 25-24, the offense had a chance to go win the game with 4:37 left, but failed to move the chains even once. And even again, trailing 32-24 with a chance to go tie the game with one last chance, the offense lost the game with Thompson tossing another pick on the first play. All told, Texas’ offense was completely incompetent outside of Robinson.
Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense mostly responded. After sacrificing 55 points and nearly 700 yards of offense to Oklahoma, the Longhorns defense fared far better against Oklahoma State. Of course, the caliber of the opposing offense wasn’t quite the same, and they did allow a few third and long conversions that will certainly be discussed during film reviews. But all in all, they swarmed the ball, tackled well and forced the Cowboys to kick field goal after field goal, not allowing an offensive touchdown until just before 10 minutes remained in the fourth quarter, and at that point, you couldn’t blame them after the Longhorns offense essentially kept them on the field after one three-and-out after another. The final score will reflect a defense that allowed 25 points, but that number is likely cut in half had the Texas offense not completely collapsed and forced the defense to spend so much time on the field.
Texas’ season, for all intents and purposes, if effectively over. That is, unless you’re really looking forward to a Texas Bowl, or some other relatively meaningless bowl game. Texas controlled its destiny entering the afternoon, and now, they’d need lots of luck and a prayer to get that rematch against OU they were eyeing, and that’s assuming they don’t stumble again elsewhere, which is likely to happen. So, realistically speaking, Texas is out of the Big 12 title hunt with five more games to play, and the best outcome is an Alamo Bowl appearance.
Fair or not, we might be headed for some QB controversy. After one bad game against Arkansas, Sark pulled the plug on the Hudson Card project and made the change to Casey Thompson. Prior to Saturday, it was a mostly fruitful move. But then Thompson had the first bad performance of his career, completing just 15-of-27 attempts for 179 yards, one touchdown, but two costly interceptions. And, he was clearly playing in some pain with the thumb on his throwing hand being wrapped from an injury against Oklahoma. Texas has a bye week upcoming, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the quarterback position moving forward, especially now that Texas isn’t contending for a conference title.
The recruiting impact could be frustrating. It remains to be seen just how much of an impact this has on Texas’ recruiting efforts, but this largely, boring display capped by an all-out offensive collapse took place on Texas’ biggest recruiting weekend of the season, with elite targets like Arch Manning, Evan Stewart, Malik Agbo, Ernest Greene and many others on hand to witness it. A win, especially a convincing one as it appeared Texas was headed for early, could have done wonders with prospect who could become game-changers in Austin. Instead, they watched another embarrassing loss for the Longhorns.