The Texas Longhorns have some questions to answer heading into the bye week after yet another meltdown on the road.
With the loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater, Texas falls to 1-6 in road games under Steve Sarkisian, losing six of eight conference games in the last two seasons. While the loss doesn't eliminate Texas from Big 12 title contention, they will now need some help from other teams if they hope to make their way to Arlington to play for the title.
So with an extra week before heading to Manhattan to take on the potent Kansas State Wildcats, what can Texas work on to hopefully shore up the ship?
Second-half scoring: Three points
Once again, the Texas offense continued to struggle in the second half. And while Texas managed to do enough in the two previous games, much like what happened in Lubbock, Oklahoma State chipped away enough for Texas to come away with a loss.
Against the Cowboys, Texas had an opportunity to pull away from the Cowboys in the second half, with the defense forcing Oklahoma State to punt on four consecutive drives. The offense responded with drives of four yards, zero yards, 27 yards, and five yards – the only points in that run came thanks to Xavier Worthy’s 29-yard punt return that set Texas up in field goal position.
That turned out to be Texas’s only scoring drive of the half.
Over the last five Big 12 games, Texas has scored just 54 points in the second half — for an average of just 10.8 points per game. In 14 Big 12 games under Steve Sarkisian, Texas is averaging just 11.8 second-half points per game, a number floated by last year’s shootouts with Kansas and Oklahoma.
Penalties: 14 penalties, 119 yards
The trend of self-inflicted wounds against the Oklahoma State Cowboys has been a wider trend for Texas over the last several years.
The Longhorns’ 119 penalty yards is the highest single-game total since their last visit to Stillwater in 2020 when the Longhorns continued to shoot themselves in the foot but managed to edge the Cowboys in overtime. The 14 accepted penalties are the most for Texas since the infamous 2015 game against the Cowboys when Charlie Strong was flagged for the referee bumping into him on the sidelines during a heated discussion.
While it's easy to blame the officiating — especially with zero accepted penalties against the Cowboys — the Longhorns clearly struggled with the crowd noise offensively triggering false starts and putting the offense in terrible position. Two procedure penalties came on second down, pushing the offense to 12 and 19 yards to go, respectively, with one on 3rd and 17 and one on 4th and 3 after blowing the second-half lead.
Defensively, Texas did itself no favors either, giving Oklahoma State a first down with six of its eight penalties. The only two that did not reward a first down put Oklahoma State in second and short or first and short situations deep in Texas territory. Coincidentally, the Cowboys scored two plays later in both instances.
Quinn Ewers: 19/49, 319 yards, two TD, three INT
For the second week in a row, the Longhorns’ young quarterback looked like a young quarterback. While Texas, and Ewers, were able to overcome it last week and gut out a victory, they couldn’t do enough in Stillwater to get the job done.
A Texas quarterback has not thrown more than two interceptions in a game since Sam Ehlinger struggled against the TCU Horned Frogs in 2019. In fact, in the last 15 seasons, there have been just nine instances of a quarterback throwing more than two interceptions in a game, including Shane Buechele in the 2016 KU loss and four from Garrett Gilbert in 2009 and 2010.
Ewers was unable to find his rhythm at all in the game, failing to complete consecutive passes after the first quarter. His accuracy on third downs was a killer for the Texas offense, going 6-of-14 for 62 yards and an interception on the money down.