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Initial takeaways from No. 12 Texas’ 36-30 win over Oklahoma State

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It wasn’t always pretty, but Texas pulled off its biggest win of the young season.

Oklahoma State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

With a chance to turn a new leaf in a series that hasn’t exactly favored the Longhorns as of late, Texas did exactly that, outlasting Oklahoma State, 36-30, to snap a four-game skid against the Cowboys and improve to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in Big 12 play.

Here are a few initial takeaways from the the Longhorns’ latest win.

  • At long last, Texas exorcized its Oklahoma State demons. You’ve heard the numbers all week, especially here at BON: Seven losses in nine games, four straight overall, and five consecutive losses in Austin. Oklahoma State has quite clearly had Texas number throughout the majority of the last decade. Not tonight. Beyond this sheer fact that Texas added to the win column and kicked off conference play on a positive note, this win over this particular opponent is even more significant given the Longhorns lack of success against the Pokes as of late, especially given how close Texas has been to beating Oklahoma State in recent years. Whether or not the staff and players would admit it, Oklahoma State likely served as a mental monkey on Texas’ back, but that was before tonight. Not to mention, prior to Saturday night, OSU was the only Big 12 team Tom Herman was yet to beat at Texas. That’s no longer the case, with Texas enjoying its biggest win of the young season.
  • As a whole, Texas responded quite well to the adversity thrown at them. This was maybe most notable in the form of the multitude of injuries the Longhorns have to overcome, especially on defense against a potent Oklahoma State offense. Beyond star receiver Collin Johnson being ruled out before the game, joining starting nickel back B.J. Foster and hybrid safety DeMarvion Overshwown on the sidelines, Texas saw starting corner Jalen Green leave the game late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and not return, and an ankle injury sent starting safety Caden Sterns to the sidelines for good in the fourth quarter — his second injury of the evening. Other starters such as Malcolm Roach, D’Shawn Jamison, and Keondre Coburn each suffered various minor ailments that temporarily sidelined them, as well. The same can be said of backup corner Josh Thompson. In short, it seemed as if every time you blinked, a Longhorn was on the turf, which is especially less than ideal against this Oklahoma State offense. Nevertheless, Texas managed to continue making key stops, and those add to to equate to a win. This all was in addition to Texas continually hurting itself, such as the multiple muffed punts that led to a pair of Oklahoma State touchdowns, including the Chuba Hubbard score down the stretch that kept the Pokes’ comeback hopes alive. Even then, though, needing only one first down, Sam Ehlinger took the game into his own hands — or legs — scrambling for 29 yards on 3rd and 9 to seal the win.
  • Keaontay Ingram is beginning establish an impressive rhythm. Virtually every bit of the running back talk entering the game centered around OSU’s Chuba Hubbard, and for good reason. He entered the evening as the nation’s leading rusher, but on Saturday night in Austin, he was out-shined by Keoantay Ingram. Hubbard did out-rush Ingram, 121-to-114, but he also required 16 more carries for those extra seven yards (37 to Ingram’s 21). And not only is that 114 yards now Ingram’s first 100-yard performance since Texas’ Week 7 win over Baylor last season, but it’s now a new career-high for the sophomore. As a result, Ingram has now eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for his career. All told, seven of Ingram’s 21 touches moved the chains, and four went for at least 10 yards. Elsewhere, Ingram also added 26 yards on on a remarkable run after a catch, in which he made at least four defenders miss.

Ingram hasn’t been overly involved before tonight, totaling only 34 carries throughout the first three games, but if he continues running with the kind of burst, purpose, and effort that he did against OSU — which he has flashed early on this season — his role and impact will only continue to increase.

  • The Texas defense mostly played well. Allowing 494 yards is, of course, less than ideal, but first things first: Texas held Okie State to nearly 20 points below its season average, down to 30 from 49.3. 14 of those points were essentially gift-wrapped courtesy of two Texas muffed punts, which led the way for OSU’s final touchdowns of each half. Had it not been for those muffed punts, Texas holds the Cowboys to a mere 16 points and 435 yards. Not to mention, prior to that second muffed punt from Brandon Jones, the Cowboys’ offense had scored just three points throughout the entire second half. It certainly helped all of the aforementioned that Tylan Wallace, arguably the top receiver in the country, was limited to just five receptions for 83 yards and was without a touchdown, and that at the hands of a battered secondary. The Texas pass rush was also impressive, specifically in the second half as the game wore on and the Longhorns began to dominate in the trenches. Again, the raw numbers weren’t ideal, but save for that Jones muffed fumble opening the door for a late score, Texas forced a field goal, back-to-back turnovers on downs, then back-to-back punts, and a fumble on a fake field goal attempt after the break.
  • Chris Adimora’s name is worth noting. With the secondary suffering through a collection of injuries, the true freshman was on the field in crunch time and his impact was felt. Adimora made a remarkable touchdown-saving pass deflection down the stretch. Hubbard ultimately scamped into the endzone on the ensuing play to make it a one-score game, 36-30, but on the Oklahoma State’s onside kick attempt, it was Adimora who came away with the ball, which ultimately allowed Texas to seal the win. Herman noted during his post-game press conference that Adimora had never taken a rep with that kick return unit in practice and was on the field due to injuries.
  • Texas largely allowed Oklahoma State to stay in the game. It would be an understatement to say Texas helped put plenty of points in the Pokes’ pocket on Saturday night. After bypassing a field goal attempt that was within Cameron Dicker’s range, Texas was stopped on 4th and 3. Six plays and 70 yards later, what could have been a 17-6 Texas lead was trimmed to just 14-13; good for a 10-point swing. Late in the second half, a Jake Smith muffed punt not only prevented Texas from producing more points before the half, but four plays and 15 yards later, OSU was back in the endzone, trimming a 21-13 lead to 21-10 just before halftime. After the Texas defense stopped the Pokes in the second half on a crucial fourth and inches, which likely should have been ruled a first down in the first place, back-to-back first down runs from Ingram sparked some momentum before Sam Ehlinger forced a pass into a tremendously tight window, resulting in an interception and giving momentum back to the Pokes in a 28-23 game. And, as already noted, Jones inexplicably slid to field a punt late in the fourth quarter, fumbling the ball along the way. Consequently, rather than Texas’ offense taking the field with a 36-23 lead with 3:35 to play, the defense remained on the field and Oklahoma State found the endzone seven plays later to remain alive. The self-inflicted wounds obviously didn’t cost Texas the game on Saturday, but for a team with Big 12 title aspirations, those are issues — primarily the special teams blunders — that quite simply need to be addressed before the Longhorns do lose because of them.

In the meantime, a bruised and battered Texas squad — primarily on defense — will enjoy a bye week before getting back onto the field against West Virginia on Oct. 5.