This was the most intriguing contest of the Big 12’s non-conference slate, and this wasn’t a game that lacked for entertainment. Hosting LSU at home, Texas stormed out of the gates, getting the ball inside the Tigers’ five yard line twice. The Longhorns couldn’t capitalize, however, and LSU was able to get a field goal to end the first quarter up 3-0.
Texas would respond with a 55 yard score, but wouldn’t get in the endzone again the rest of the half. LSU, however, started hitting their stride offensively, and went into the locker room up two possessions after two quarters. The Longhorns responded in the second half, going on a 14-3 third quarter run to pull within two points of LSU.
The teams would continue to trade touchdowns until Texas settled for a field goal late in the fourth quarter to pull it to 37-31 with 3:59 left. The Longhorns were unable to get a stop, and the Tigers went up 45-31. Texas did score late to bring it to 45-38 with 22 seconds remaining, but the Longhorns were unable to recover the ensuing onside kick.
Key Plays Of The Game
5:04 1st [UT 4th & Goal at LSU 2] – This was one of two times that Texas decided to go for it on fourth and goal and came away with nothing. Texas faked a quarterback run to the right, and after taking a few steps, Ehlinger turned back to his left and threw to running back Keaontay Ingram, who had leaked out to other side and was wide open in the endzone. The pass hit Ingram in the hands, but the sophomore was unable to come down with it, leaving Texas scoreless.
0:47 2nd [LSU 1st & 10 at UT 21] – After a three-and-out that took only 28 seconds off the clock for Texas, LSU got the ball back with just over a minute left in the game up 13-7. Tiger quarterback Joe Burrow would manage three straight first downs, and then hit receiver Justin Jefferson up the seam for a 21-yard touchdown strike. The score secured the momentum going into halftime for LSU, and extending the lead to two possessions.
2:26 3rd [UT 3rd & 10 at LSU 20] – Ehlinger found success throwing the ball in the middle of the field throughout the night, and his late third quarter dart to Jake Smith pulled Texas within two points of LSU, making it 23-21. Ehlinger hit the true freshman in the endzone when it looked like the Tigers might stall a Longhorns’ second half comeback.
2:27 4th [LSU 3rd & 17 at LSU 39] – Texas had been trading scores throughout the second half, but the Longhorns knew they were going to need at least one stop to take the lead. Up 37-31, LSU faced a long third down in their own territory, and when Texas brought a blitz, Burrow managed to evade the rush and hit Justin Jefferson dragging across the middle of the field. Jefferson only needed to break the tackle of a trailing Caden Sterns before he could streak down the sideline for the late score. The two point conversion put LSU up 45-31, and made a comeback almost impossible for the Longhorns.
Key Stats Of The Game
1,103 Total Yards – Both teams combined for about two-thirds of a mile worth of offense in this one, something that surprised people anyone thought this would be a defensive battle. There were only five punts on the day, as both LSU and Texas established from the get-go that they were going to be aggressive on offense.
33:53 Time of Possession – Texas held the ball for more than seven minutes than the Tigers, who looked a lot more like a Big 12 team on Saturday than Texas did. The Longhorns started to try and slow the game down to start the second half once they saw how much the defense was struggling, and that probably helped them get back in this one.
1/3 On 4th Down – This number may come back to haunt Tom Herman, who was very aggressive in calling for Texas to go for it twice on fourth and goal. Kicking a field goal in either of those spots could have given Texas points in a game where they would need all the points they could find. Of course, the third time the Longhorns went for it on fourth day it did pay off big, with Devin Duvernay taking a catch across the middle 44 yards to the house.
31 Second Half Points – At halftime, this game looked like LSU might run away with it up 20-7 and looking to get the ball back. Texas pulled themselves back into this game, though, and outscored the Tigers 31-25 in the second half. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough, but it showcased Texas’ ability to play with top teams in the country.
Players Of The Game
QB Sam Ehlinger – 31/47, 401 yards, 4 TD, 19 carries, 60 yards, 1 TD
WR Devin Duvernay – 12 receptions, 154 yards, 2 TD
LB Joseph Ossai – 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QB hurry, 1 interception
The Longhorns Belong On The Big Stage – Yes, Texas lost this game. No, they did not look like a perfect team. Down 20-7 at the half, though, they rallied and came back against a Top 10 team in the country. For all of the criticism directed at him, Ehlinger put up 400 yards passing against an experienced defense that will have multiple guys drafted next April. This is a team that looks one of the better squads in the country, and is definitely still a Big 12 championship contender.
Questions At Running Back Remain – This is is going to be a story line for at least the next month. With all of the injuries, Texas tried to limit their carries for actual running backs, but all the same Ingram did not have a great game, managing only 29 yards. Converted running back Roschon Johnson actually looked like the better back on the day, fighting for extra yards to average 4.6 yards per carry. Being so thin at the running back position, you would hope that the feature back would really step up in this spot. Because he didn’t, the Texas running game is going to be in a tenuous situation moving forward.
Texas’ Pass Defense Needs Work – Are LSU and Joe Burrow just that good or did the Longhorns just struggle to defend the pass? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, and it means that defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is going to have to go to work. Texas held the Tigers to 102 yards rushing at 3.5 yards a carry, which is good run defense against any Power 5 team. When LSU dropped back, though, Texas could never seem to get to Burrow either with the blitz or with just their down lineman. The Tigers’ passing attack also made hay in the middle of the field, and the secondary struggled in man-to-man.