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No. 11 Texas 34, No. 3 Alabama 24: Three things we learned

The Longhorns went into Tuscaloosa and did something few have done, knock off the Nick Saban Crimson Tide.

Texas v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A week after an unimpressive outing against the Rice Owls in their opener, the No. 11 Texas Longhorns went to Tuscaloosa and did what few have done, knock off the Nick Saban Alabama Crimson Tide.

Going into the contest, Saban had just one other loss at home in his Tuscaloosa tenure, a one-touchdown loss to ULM in his first year as the head coach. Now, Steve Sarkisian has become just the third former Saban assistant to knock him off on the opposite sideline, he seemingly has the Longhorns humming in a way that fans were concerned about a week ago.

1. Texas can connect on the deep ball

A big part of the lead-up to the game was the talk about Quinn Ewers and his ability to hit on the deep ball, and rightfully so. But just a week after going 0-9 on routes longer than 15 yards, it was a key to the victory for Texas.

Despite some early misses, Sarkisian continued to dial up the deep shots and one finally paid off for Texas, when Ewers sent a moon shot to Xavier Worthy to score the game’s first touchdown and take a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. He dialed it up again in the fourth quarter and connected with AD Mitchell for the second time, a 39-yard dagger to take a 10-point lead. For his trouble, Ewers finished with his third career 300-yard game, none more pivotal than this one.

The receivers require their fair share of the credit as well, with Worthy recovering from an early touchdown drop to perfectly track the first deep shot, and AD Mitchell doing something he has done twice before — deliver a dagger to the Crimson Tide.

2. Texas can close

After two years of frustration, futility, and second-half collapses, the Longhorns did what they needed to do in the fourth quarter, answer back and close out a game.

In the final frame, Texas completed seven passes for 135 yards — 38.6 percent of their total for the night — and converted on two of their four third-down attempts, both on their final drive. Add to that a pivotal heads-up play from Hayden Conner, intentionally coming out of his stance when the Alabama defender entered the neutral zone to draw a five-yard penalty and effectively end the game.

The defense, for their trouble, held Alabama under 100 yards in the quarter, despite giving up a long touchdown on a broken, improvised play from Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe.

3. The defense is elite

Speaking of the Texas defense, they were the reason why the offense was able to put up enough points to pull off the road upset.

A week after rolling over Middle Tennessee State, Alabama was held without a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver, while Milroe threw two interceptions — one that set up the Longhorns’ second score of the second half, their second in 65 seconds.

Against a massive and hyped Alabama line, the defense brought down the lightning-fast Milroe five times for a total of 31 yards and forced him to be uncomfortable all night. If the Longhorns can keep that level of intensity each and every week, any team will have struggles to move the ball against them.

Now the struggle for Texas becomes, how do you keep the intensity high against the Wyoming Cowboys, who knocked off the Texas Tech Red Raiders in their season opener?

If Texas can answer that question, their goals for the year are well within their grasp.