The question all week was how would the No. 21 Texas Longhorns look coming off a physically and emotionally-taxing game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. In years past, Texas has played up for big games and had a deflating performance right after.
When the UTSA Roadrunners went up 17-7 thanks to an onside kick and a trick play, it felt like another “here we go again” moment in a long string of them. But the Longhorns did what they seemingly couldn’t do in years past, respond to the adversity and not only win but win decisively.
“I didn’t think our team blinked for a second. From that moment on, we outscored them 34-3,” Steve Sarkisian said about the come-from-behind three-score win. “We were able to run the football. We were able to stop the run. We were able to get off the field on defense. Obviously [we] created a big interception there by Jahdae Barron, which I think kind of opened the game up.”
The Longhorns needed to flip the switch at halftime and leaders from all over the field, some existing and some emerging, stepped up to do just that.
Bijan Robinson: 20 car, 183 yards (9.15 ypc), 3 TD
When you need a big play, it’s easy to turn to your star players, and Texas did just that in the second half against UTSA. Texas didn’t need much work from Bijan Robinson in the second half, but when it was time to shut the door on the game — the ball was in his hands.
On Texas’s first drive of the fourth quarter, leading by 11 and needing to shut the door, Hudson Card handed the ball to Robinson for three of his seven second-half carries, capped by a 41-yard touchdown rush to shut the door on the Roadrunners. That run gave Bijan his third rushing touchdown of the game, marking his third career game with three rushing touchdowns.
Not only did the run close the door on UTSA, it capped off another career night for the star.
His 183 yards, featuring a career-long 78-yard touchdown run to open up the second half and give Texas the lead out of the locker room, marks the second-highest rushing total of his carer. It sits just behind his 216-yard performance against the TCU Horned Frogs a year ago.
Jahdae Barron: 6 tackles (3 solo), INT, TD
Leading 24-20 in the third quarter, Texas went three and out and gave the ball back to UTSA, who was hanging around and trying to stage a comeback. Texas needed a play to spark the team and quell the Roadrunners’ momentum.
Then Jahdae Barron stepped in front of a pass from Frank Harris and saw nothing but grass in front of him.
The 44-yard interception return marked the first interception and touchdown for the Pflugerville Connally defender, adding to his career-high six tackles and three solo tackles. Perhaps most importantly, the score gave Texas some breathing room in a painfully-tight game.
The pick six marked the third non-offensive touchdown for the Longhorns through three games, adding to D’Shawn Jamison’s interception touchdown and Keilan Robinson’s punt block touchdown from the first game. Texas has not matched either total, three non-offensive touchdowns or two pick sixes, since the 2017 season.
Jaylan Ford: 15 tackles (10 solo), 0.5 TFL, Forced Fumble
After being held without a tackle against ULM, Jaylan Ford has emerged as a cornerstone for the defense and a tackle vacuum in the middle. Eight of his tackles came in the pivotal third quarter, playing sideline to sideline, including a third-down stop to end a long drive by the Roadrunners coming out of the locker room.
Three plays later, Bijan Robinson went 78 yards for a score and gave Texas the lead.
Against UTSA, Ford led the team in both tackles and solo tackles, re-establishing the career highs he set a week ago against the Alabama Crimson Tide. That 15-tackle performance is a high-water mark for the Longhorns, a total that hasn’t been reached since Hassan Ridgeway seven seasons ago.
His performance puts him at 25 tackles on the year, which not only leads the team but puts him on pace to hit 100 tackles this year. The last player to reach that feat? Fan favorite and current Dallas Cowboy Malik Jefferson in 2017.
With a relatively-successful non-conference schedule completed, Texas now turns its sights to the grinder of Big 12 play. The Longhorns open conference play on the road against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who are coming off of a 27-14 loss at the hands of the NC State Wolfpack.