Third conference loss ends Texas’ Big 12 Title hopes
AMES, Ia. — After a sluggish start on offense in the first and second half, plus a defense that surrendered a plethora of yards, Texas suffered its’ fourth loss of the season.
The 23-21 road loss at Jack Trice Stadium was the Longhorns’ second of the year. Texas hasn’t fared well away from home thus far and for a third-straight year under Tom Herman the program has lost four or more games. Barring a miracle the Longhorns won’t be making back-to-back appearances in the Big 12 Championship.
The team that started out the season with National Title aspirations is now being perceived as overachievers. Texas was ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll to begin the season, but are currently outside of the top-25 entering week 13.
It’s something the players aren’t happy about, but they’ll try their best to salvage their season. There’s still a lot of positives the Longhorns can carry into their two remaining games. The offense can move the ball and put points on the board, but needs more consistency.
Quarterback Sam Elhinger had a solid performance, shredding the Cyclones secondary for 277 yards and three touchdown passes. Running back Keontay Ingram struggled to run the ball, but contributed in the passing game. Not to mention receivers Devin Duvernay and Brennan Eagles combined for 13 catches, 191 yards and a touchdown.
Although the Longhorns trailed for most of the game the team showed heart and rallied back, scoring two touchdowns to take the lead with under six minutes left in the fourth quarter. However, the rushing attack that couldn’t find any consistency. Texas’ offense finished with just 54 yards on the ground.
“The run game sometimes it’s going to take 12 carries and other times it’s going to take 30 carries depending on the opponent,” Ingram said. “I don’t feel like we had a rhythm tonight.”
The inconsistency in the running game contributed to Texas’ offensive woes, but the defense didn’t help out much either. D’Shawn Jamison, Brandon Jones and Joseph Ossai all tied for a team-high, nine total tackles, but couldn’t make key stops when their team needed it the most.
“This hurts for sure for the seniors obviously, but the season’s not over though so we have a chance to finish off strong,” Jones said. “We’re just going to take it week by week and the biggest thing is we can’t let it get to us.”
The unit surrendered 466 total yards to Iowa State, including 101 on the ground to Breece Hall and 191 through the air to La’Michael Pettway and Deshaunte Jones. Discipline turned out to be the tale of the tape and the Longhorns doubled the Cyclones in penalties and yardage.
An encroachment penalty by the Longhorns’ defense extended the Cyclones’ last drive to set them up with good field position to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired. The blunder changed the momentum of the game, but junior defensive lineman Ta’Quon Graham doesn’t believe it fractured the team’s mental toughness.
Still, the Longhorns need to quickly recover having to travel again on the road to face a top-15 Baylor team.
“All we can do is come together,” Graham said. “Even with some of our struggles that we may have, we just have to focus on each other and fix all those little mistakes that we see.”
Rising up to the occasion and rebounding will be key for the Longhorns, but the Bears won’t be an easy out considering how ticked off they from also losing their last game in dramatic fashion. In hindsight, Texas still has a lot of football left to play.