The Texas Longhorns clearly scored the style points they needed in the Big 12 Championship game, earning their way to the third seed in the College Football Playoff.
In what seems like a common thread this year, the Longhorns jumped out to an early lead thanks to the stellar play of the offense. Unlike the trend this year, Texas continued to roll its opponent en route to a lopsided win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys, seemingly catapulting itself into the CFP.
Quinn Ewers: 35-46 (76%) 452 yards, 4 TD, INT
The key to Texas’s offense getting out to a big lead early was the play of its quarterback, who was dialed in early and helped the offense cruise.
Ewers completed his first 12 passes to the tune of 175 yards and three touchdowns, completing 16 of his first 17 en route to a 21-7 lead before the end of the first quarter. By the time Ewers made his first, and only, real mistake of the game, Texas was up three scores. Despite not finishing the game, and giving the ball up to both Maalik Murphy and Arch Manning in garbage time, Ewers etched his name in both school and conference history.
His 451 total yards set his career high, the conference title game-high, and is the third-best game by a quarterback in school history – behind Major Applewhite’s 473 yards in 2001 and Colt McCoy’s 470 in 2009, becoming one of just five players in school history with a 400-yard game. That pushes his season number to 3,161 yards on the year, the eighth-best season in school history, and positions him to jump into the top five careers in school history if he returns for another season.
Total Defense: 281 yards (31 rushing, 250 passing)
It wouldn’t be a 2023 Texas Longhorns game without discussing the stellar performance of the defense after holding the Oklahoma State Cowboys to less than 300 total yards for just the third time this year.
Heading into the game, one of the biggest storylines was the matchup of the Texas run defense against Oklahoma State’s Ollie Gordon, III, the nation’s leading rusher. Heading into the game, Gordon was averaging an electric 131.6 yards per game and a five-touchdown performance against the BYU Cougars to catapult themselves to the title game. After Gordon, III’s pregame antics, the Longhorns talked between the lines, holding him to his second-worst game as a full-time starter and the team’s worst performance since rushing for eight yards against Baylor in 2015.
This marks Texas’s eighth game holding its opponent to fewer than 100 yards on the year, including six of the last seven contests, with Texas turning in its sixth game holding an opponent to less than two yards per carry on the day.
Time of Possession 40:06
Part of the way that Texas put away its second consecutive game in a row was to control the ball and control the clock, limiting the Cowboys’ possessions when they needed to score multiple touchdowns.
Texas went into halftime with a three-score lead and came out of the locker room with the mindset to shorten the game and end it early, signaled by a five-minute drive to open the second half. The strategy paid off, with Texas limiting Oklahoma State to just three possessions in the second half, holding the ball to 21 of the final 30 minutes of the game. After the last two weeks, it feels like decades ago that we were hearing complaints of Texas’s inability to close out opponents.
Over the last two weeks, Texas possessed the ball for 40 of the possible 60 second-half minutes and gave up just one touchdown in the contests – a garbage time TD against the second and third units.