The horseshoe that was stuck up the Texas Longhorns‘ rear end finally fell out on Monday night. Hours after its claim to legitimacy went up in flames and Alabama squandered a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter to a half-lethargic Michigan team, UT repeatedly looked like a fraud once again.
Washington’s QB Michael Penix fired up the Burnt Orange secondary, but an irresponsible call by UW coach Kalen DeBoer gave Quinn Ewers enough time to reach field goal range. The Huskies survived four plays within the 20-yard line and sealed a 37-31 win in the College Football Playoff title game, and these missed opportunities will haunt the people in Austin for a long time.
We know the challenges this Texas program will face on its way to the SEC, with a much tougher schedule against schools that won’t overwhelm them with resources in a conference that doesn’t care about their prestige. Instead of heralding its arrival with a potential championship, UT showed the kind of folly that has characterized Longhorn football for a decade.
Dropped passes, drive-killing fumbles, and a plethora of flags nullified any talent advantage – real or perceived – for Texas. If not for DeBoer’s best efforts to pull ahead, the game would have been over mid-fourth frame.
I see you, playing from the Texas five-yard line on third and third in the third quarter. Heisman finalist is cooking, and you take the ball out of his hands, why? Yet gain a few yards to kick a field goal?
Yes, there was some bad luck with Dillon Johnson’s injury halting the clock and giving Texas one last breath, but one of the biggest mistakes of the 2023 college football season was Miami’s unnecessary running play against Georgia Tech, against which a kneel-down would have sufficed. Coaches beware: a fumble isn’t the only monstrously bad thing that can happen when lured by hubris. Bonus tip for offensive linemen: If this happens next time and isn’t addressed in this offseason, carry the injured player to the sidelines yourself.
If a Texas receiver wins one of the many jump balls that Ewers threw in the final 45 seconds, Talking Heads will spend the whole day lambasting DeBoer for ruining Penix’s incredible game. Washington’s Rome Odunze was the best receiver on the field, closely followed by Ja’Lynn Polk. Given Texas‘ turnovers and UW’s clock management, it’s a wonder the referees didn’t just toss a greased pig at the 50-yard line to see who could get it first.
The Longhorns entered the game on Monday night with a 3.5-point lead, and the final result was as emblematic of the talent difference as it should have been. However, Washington outplayed and beat Texas for 59 minutes.
And yet, UT had four chances to complete the comeback. I don’t know how long Steve Sarkisian will regret the last play calls – especially a few of those fades – but it’s no less than a lifetime, no longer than three. When the Longhorns in the next season ask, „When is the Iowa State game?“ After another SEC grind, the 2024 Sugar Bowl and everything that could have been will feel like six lifetimes ago.