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Even in a loss, Texas shows it's an 'elite ball club'

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Even in a loss, Texas shows it's an 'elite ball club'


AUSTIN, Texas  K'Lavon Chaisson stood against a wall in the bowels of Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorials Stadium basking in LSU’s 45-38 victory over No. 9 Texas. He couldn’t be too effusive in his celebration – the Tigers’ defense had just been ravaged for 530 yards – but he was in a good enough mood to revisit some comments he made earlier in the week.

Chaisson labeled Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger “not too much of a threat” in the days leading up to the game. Ehlinger proceeded to throw for 401 yards and four touchdowns on a Tigers defense that hadn’t allowed 400 yards passing since 2011.

“I made a comment the quarterback couldn’t beat us with his arm,” Chaisson said. “He proved us wrong today.”

He won’t be the only one nationally looking at the Longhorns differently.

It’s not as if Texas hadn't previously played well against elite competition. The Longhorns pushed Oklahoma to the fourth quarter in the 2018 Big 12 Championship game. They followed that up with a Sugar Bowl upset of Georgia. This effort, going blow for blow with one of the nation’s most talented teams, is a window into Texas’ future.

Asked how close Texas is to LSU, Chaisson demurred. His teammate, safety Jacoby Stevens, had no issue talking about the team that nearly derailed LSU's run at the College Football Playoff before it could really begin. 

“Texas is an elite ball club,” Stevens said. “I would not be surprised if they won their conference. They have a good set of receivers, a good running back and an elite quarterback. I wouldn’t be surprised if they run the table.”

LSU is the fourth-most talented team in the country, per the 247Sports Team Talent Composite. That skill seems to be finally fully unleashed with a new-look Tiger attack, which will serve LSU well in SEC play. The Tigers finally have the firepower to keep up with Alabama and Georgia. The fact Texas kept up with LSU at every turn – remember, Texas failed to convert in two separate fourth-and-goal situations that would've swung the game – is a testament to how quickly the Longhorns have climbed under head coach Tom Herman.

Here’s how Texas has tracked in the Team Talent Composite since Herman took over.

2017: 13th
2018: 9th
2019: 7th

Given that the Longhorns look like they’ll sign another top 5-level class this cycle, their baseline talent level will likely continue to rise. You could make a strong argument that LSU and Texas looked nearly even from a dude-for-dude perspective. LSU won some matchups while Texas won others. The thing that made the difference might’ve just been experience and a few simple mistakes.

The Tigers are an upperclassmen-laden team. They returned 16 starters, which is the 10th-most nationally. LSU’s athletes have had time to marinate in a contending environment. Texas, despite back-to-back top 3 class, is considerably less experienced. The Longhorns brought back just eight starters and ranked 121st nationally in returning production, per SB Nation. 

Some of that inexperience showed up. Texas’ secondary, which features an all underclassman two-deep at corner, was torched by Joe Burrow and an elite group of wide receivers. This wasn't a talent gap. Jalen Green (No. 47 nationally in 2018) is one of the most naturally gifted defensive backs in the country, but that didn’t stop him and the rest of the secondary from getting consistently beat by a complex and aggressive LSU system.

Many of Texas' issues must be solved down the line (pass defense, especially), and most of them will with experience.

Either way, the Longhorns are clearly a Big 12 contender exiting this contest. 

Yet ... it’s difficult not to peak forward to 2020 when Texas will travel to Baton Rouge for a rematch with the Tigers. The Longhorns’ young stars will have had time to develop. Throw in a likely Heisman-contending quarterback (Ehlinger) and 2020 has the makings of a special year for Texas.

This is not to say any promise of future success should take the sting away from Texas' defeat. The Longhorns could've easily upset LSU, launching them into contention a year early much like they competed ahead of schedule a season ago. 

“It hurts a lot,” Herman said. “But I think they all realize all of our long-term goals are still out there.”


Herman's stated goal for 2019 was a Big 12 championship. That's still in reach. Texas finished 5-7 just three years ago. Saturday, it went blow to blow with the nation’s No. 6 team. One day soon moral victories will be a thing of the past for Texas. But for now, one of the nation’s youngest teams just put a scare into a national championship contender. 

“Those guys are really good,” Stevens said


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We may have lost on Saturday, however the future looks bright. Good article.


However, look at this shit. Coach O is full of it.

Players filed out of the locker room, grumbling that LSU required 12 trips from trainers to the field during the game, 10 of which came in the second half. That included Chaisson, winking at the Texas staff when he went down with an apparent lower-body ailment late in the second half before walking to the opposite sideline






Behind the scenes with Texas football: Hope, heartbreak and a death threat

Yahoo Sports Pete Thamel,Yahoo Sports 3 hours ago 
‘We’re not changing’ - Inside game week at Texas
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AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas football sideline teemed with the energy befitting an awakening on Saturday night. NBA center Mo Bamba bobbed to the Sheck Wes song that bears his name. Terrell Owens stood alone in a Longhorn hoodie, wearing sunglasses well after dark.

Matthew McConaughey arrived wearing a burnt orange shirt, declaring the evening a spiritual affair immediately after the Texas team prayer: “Let’s go to church on Saturday night!”

Erudite Darrell K Royal-Texas Stadium, long home to a wine-and-cheese football crowd, felt more like a Red Bull with a double-shot of Tito’s. With No. 6 LSU in town to play No. 9 Texas in the biggest non-conference game here since 2006, only the fleeting flicker of an upset remained to feed the din with 22 seconds left.

The onside kick from Texas’ Cameron Dicker deftly hopscotched through the LSU hands team. Star senior wide receiver Collin Johnson, who had actually delivered the pregame prayer, proceeded to dive Pete Rose style in an all-out attempt to answer one. A Devin Duvernay touchdown catch had cut the LSU lead to seven and allowed the throbbing masses to cling to the tiniest morsel of hope.

The preceding 59 minutes played out like a manic quarterback duel between LSU’s Joe Burrow, who played at a Heisman level, and Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, who shook off an early slump to help Texas score on every UT drive in the second half.

Yahoo Sports spent a week embedded with the Longhorns to examine everything that built up to this climactic moment – the playoff stakes, aura of alleged SEC superiority and a heated recruiting rivalry. And it all played out amid a frenetic backdrop with everything from mandatory team dancing and pillow fights to hundreds of messages – some threatening, racist and homophobic – sent by LSU fans to Ehlinger and the coaching staff.

With a matchup looming next season in Baton Rouge, it all felt like something bigger. Amid the humid night, the fate of two storied programs bounded toward the sideline with Dicker’s kick and took us back to what built up to Johnson’s leap.

Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman (center with back to camera) leads a meeting Wednesday Sept. 4, 2019 in Austin, Tx. ( Photo by Edward A. Ornelas )

TUESDAY: ‘We don’t change’

“If you were a part of last year's team, you know damn well that we can hit people in the mouth and we're going to hit them in the mouth until the referee tells us to stop. We don't change around here, right? We don't change anything.” – Tom Herman to the team

During bed check at the team hotel the night before the LSU game, a group of special team players awaited Texas coach Tom Herman with the most fitting tradition — an elaborate skit by the specialists. Linebacker Cort Jaquess dressed up as Ed Orgeron, with the sketch introduced as an alternate reality: What if Herman had taken the LSU job and Orgeron was the head coach at Texas? Herman cracked up and nodded approvingly at every one of Jaquess’ deep Cajun growls.

Now in his third season at Texas, the Longhorns’ identity has taken on a compelling duality under Herman. There’s Bill Parcells-style toughness unfolding on the field and a “Saturday Night Live” vibe off it.

There are hard-hitting full-pad practices on Tuesdays, demands for strain and constant pleas to push through the edge. Those are complemented by an environment where fun is mandatory, and each day unfolds with a rollicking vibe.

“The culture he’s created here is special,” said Larry Fedora, the former North Carolina coach who is in his first year on staff as an analyst. “Everyone is held accountable for everything, but the biggest thing it’s showed me is that you can grind and work hard and still have a lot of fun doing it. I’ve never been involved with anything like this.”

In January 2015, hours after Herman served as the play-caller in Ohio State’s national championship victory over Oregon, he jumped in a black rental Chevy Suburban with his chief of staff, Fernando Lovo. They headed to their new adventure at the University of Houston, where Herman was named coach. The 70-pound Broyles Award given to the nation’s best assistant coach accompanied them in a middle seat, secured by a seatbelt in back.

Herman embarked with a clear vision of a grand experiment, in which football doesn’t have to be 350-something days of joyless drudgery interspersed with a dozen or so game-day rewards. The game plan was simple yet unconventional: “Win a lot of games, and have a lot fun doing it.”

As they drove south on I-45 to Houston, Herman had already come a long way. He took a job at Division III Texas Lutheran in 1998 for $5,000 and the promise of a meal card. And while zig-zagging the state and country to eventually land the best job in Texas, he also pledged he wouldn’t change.

When he arrived back in Austin, where he’d been a graduate assistant, Herman set out to bring a blue collar to a blue blood and shed the program’s country club reputation, in part, by bringing a night-club vibe. Even the water break stations are called Club H20, and all team meetings and special teams meetings kick off with players bobbing and dancing to rappers like Young Thug.

How different is this Texas operation? There’s a 6 a.m. “Suns Out, Guns Out” offseason workout that includes tie-dye workout gear and machines shooting flames. Game-day traditions include obstacle courses with pillow fights and dance circles. There’s staff room banter where, this week alone, Herman quoted everything from “Dude, Where’s My Car” to “Silence of the Lambs” to “Game of Thrones,” all in appropriate dialects.

When Herman led Houston to a 22-4 record during his time there, graduate assistant coach Dan Carrel summed up the operation this way: “It's as if Urban Meyer's program and plan to win is being executed by Tom Cruise's character in ‘Risky Business.’”

Herman has remained the same, while gradually changing Texas football after taking over in the wake of three losing seasons. As he pushed the program toward a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia last year, Herman has stayed true to the experiment. He even trick-or-treated in Austin with his sons and another suburban dad – his buddy Mark Brady – who was dressed as Tom Herman for Halloween. When visitors at the door guessed Brady’s costume, Herman himself would pop into the doorway to surprise folks giving out candy.

Prior to the season, Herman called Dabo Swinney to pick his brain on culture. He asked Swinney if the veteran players would get tired of his message entering Year 3, and Dabo’s response was much like the Clemson coach himself – simple yet profound. “If they can mock you and your sayings, they’re listening to you.”

Herman took it to heart, which is why saying, “We’re not changing,” every day is something that will never change.

Texas Longhorns football players run into their morning workout Wednesday Sept. 4, 2019 in Austin, Tx. ( Photo by Edward A. Ornelas )

WEDNESDAY: ‘How do you win?’

“The talent is equal this week, guys. You're not going to out-talent these guys. You're not. So how do you win? Your training. You're trained to be the hardest-playing, most physical team in the country. That's the way we train.” – Herman to the team on Wednesday

At 6:58 a.m. on Wednesday morning, there’s a relentless pounding on the door of the Texas weight room. Primal screams accompany the din, and when two strength coaches unlock the doors at precisely 7:00 a.m., 23 Texas players stampede through the frame for their morning workout. They’re accompanied by thumping music, mosh-pit chest bumps and incessant yelling.

Standing poker-faced amid the roar is Yancy McKnight, the head Texas strength coach, who looks like an extra from a Slayer video. McKnight serves as the heartbeat and conscience of the Texas program, defiant about everything from accountability to toughness to not letting Drake’s slow beats play on his turf.

The shift in Texas’ program trajectory can be traced, in part, to the combination of old-school lifting and a recent emphasis on scientific-based data that’s helped take the country-club reputation to the outhouse. “If there's a better strength coach in the country,” Herman said, “you'll have to prove it to me.”

McKnight tripled the overall strength staff size – five to 15, which includes interns and a science staff – and there are three other coaches on staff who have been head Division I strength coaches – Rod Grace (Houston), Nate Peoples (Western Michigan) and Clayton Oyster (Iowa State).

Their collective methods are a mix of unconventional techniques, like breathing exercises and karate chops to help activate the nervous system. That’s combined with traditional lifting and intricate science, which has become a bedrock of the Texas program since the Maryland game to start the 2018 season. Herman noticed that Maryland “looked faster on game day” than Texas, and from that point there’s been more of a reliance on data to determine freshness.

McKnight brings a pile of analytical workout data to the staff meeting every morning, which gauges the program’s workload on a macro level.

The Catapult GPS monitoring measures things like speed, as 21 miles per hour is a blazing number for a receiver like Duvernay. It also tracks change of direction, volume of yardage, accelerations and decelerations.

Knowing the output means more work can be done in less time, as practice times are arranged accordingly with the help of associate director of sports science Matt Van Dyke. During LSU week, practice periods dropped from 18 to 16 to 14 periods. “When you recruit Ferraris, you better keep them tuned up,” Herman said.

When star receiver Collin Johnson’s hamstring tightened up a bit this week, a monitoring device was attached to compression shorts that could quantify how much the hamstring was firing every movement during a workout. Strength staff members monitored the hamstring on each rep he took on an iPhone app. They could see precisely the point where fatigue altered the workout, compromised the movement in that area and increased the risk of injury.

McKnight’s work has not gone unnoticed by the NFL, which has largely ignored the Longhorns in recent years. Prior to Charlie Strong’s first season in 2014, Texas had zero players drafted for the first time since 1937. They had one player drafted in both 2016 and 2017. Texas hasn’t had an offensive player picked in the first round since 2006.

NFL scouts credit Strong for changing the tenor of the weight-room culture, which McKnight continued.

“Yancy is getting them to where they need to be from a power standpoint,” said a scout who goes through Texas frequently. “He’s more analytical in how to develop the core and lower body. Yancy may look rough, but I think he’s a really smart guy that is more cerebral than people think. He’s not a meathead at all.”

Texas has five seniors with a good chance at getting drafted this season – Johnson, Duvernay, defensive back Brandon Jones, defensive lineman Malcolm Roach and senior lineman Zach Shackelford.

But can they hold up to an SEC stalwart? “These games are why you do this,” Herman said. “LSU is talked about as a playoff-caliber type team, and that’s what we want to be eventually.”

Texas Longhorns football offensive graduate assistant Jordan Salkin (left) looks on as Brennan Eagles catches a pass during practice Wednesday Sept. 4, 2019 in Austin, Tx. (Photo by Edward A. Ornelas)

THURSDAY: ‘Without a doubt’

“We’ve been really good in big games around here for a long time. The biggest reason is that we’re loose, we’re fresh. We’re going to play harder than LSU. It’s your job to get them to the game confident, loose and without a doubt.” – Herman to the staff on Thursday

Sitting in the offensive staff room, Ehlinger flips through film of LSU’s defense. He’s got a green Gatorade water bottle in front of him, an actual Gatorade beside that and has both a spiral notebook and a three-ring binder splayed open.

The offensive staff room is where the coaches shackle themselves during the day, a football laboratory that has graduate-level discussions with the occasional frat-house touches. (Flatulence is common and hardly discouraged.) The offensive staff room table has a fingernail clipper nestled up next to a Purell bottle, packages of caffeinated Rev gum scattered on the table and piles of pepitas salad toppings.

It also moonlights as the quarterback meeting room, as Ehlinger is clearly at home when he ducks in on Wednesday night for extra film with his backup, Casey Thompson. Ehlinger breezes through LSU’s different fronts – Okie, Even, Bear – mentioning casually he’s considering calling Tua Tagovailoa to pick his brain on LSU.

Ehlinger reflected back to his first big game as a Longhorn, at USC as a true freshman in 2017. Ehlinger led a 14-play, 91-yard fourth-quarter drive to give the Longhorns the lead in the final minute.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” he said of the overtime loss. “I should not have been on the field. I thought I knew what I was doing. Looking back, I knew what our offense was doing. I had no idea what USC was doing. I was just looking for an open guy.”

Two years later, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Tim Beck said the biggest difference in the Longhorns’ offense is that Ehlinger knows exactly what he’s doing. There’s been myriad improvements around Ehlinger: upgraded offensive line, new run-game coordinator [Herb Hand], freaky receivers and an overall stronger and more talented team. “You know what really helped us?” Beck said. “We get into really good plays and Sam Ehlinger helped us from getting into bad plays.”

Now in his true junior season, Ehlinger has earned near full autonomy at the line of scrimmage. That involves digesting about 130 different play concepts and a near-infinite amount of plays, as those concepts can be run from a dozen different formations.

Each week in the staff room, Texas coaches pare the infinite play possibilities down to about 40 base calls for conventional down-and-distance plays – 20 run and 20 pass. The call sheet ends up with about 100 overall calls available for LSU – the other 60 situational such as fourth-down and third-and-long and two-point conversions. To winnow the options, the staff starts with a 14-hour day Monday – Put Em Up Monday – where they ponder the possibilities.

That’s followed by Take Em Down Tuesday, where they begin a process of weaning that ends on Friday when offensive graduate assistant Jordan Salkin types up the call sheet for that weekend.

The plays themselves are treated like political candidates, their strengths debated against various fronts, looks and coverages. Each of their values is questioned situationally. If Ehlinger doesn’t love the play, it usually doesn’t make it. The plays are practiced and pored over on practice film, with Ehlinger and Thompson being rapid-fire quizzed by Beck.

“They’re in overload and we’re in 99 protection, what’s the first thing you do?”

“No one has the Will [linebacker] here, what does that mean?”

“If this is true zone, what’s the no-deep beater here?”

The names are random, as there’s a third-and-long play called Orange Sneaker because someone looked down. There’s also a reverse play known infamously as the Put Em To Sleep Play, which Hand brought from his time at Auburn after the Tigers secured critical yardage in a game and put the opponent to sleep.

The infamous Sleep play – renamed Bozo Deep at Texas – has since been put to sleep itself from lack of use, which triggered some gentle mockery of Hand. There’s a drawing of a napping stick figure drawn next to it on the white board.

With so much brain power – including Fedora and former Kansas State offensive coordinator Andre Coleman serving as analysts – comes danger.

“Coaches get a case of the ‘We Cans,’” said Hand, the affable veteran coach. “We can do this motion, this presentation and all of a sudden, it’s like the show ‘Hoarders.’ You walk into your staff room and there’s plays piled up and it’s chaos.”

The chaos that Ehlinger saw when he peered across the line of scrimmage his freshman season has dissipated his junior year. He’s come so far since that USC game that he’s confident he can put LSU to sleep. “I just feel so different now during the game,” he said. “It’s just so much more relaxed. It’s like high school.”

Texas Longhorns' Jamari Chisholm bats during Family Friday practice held Friday Sept. 6, 2019 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Tx. ( Photo by Edward A. Ornelas )

FRIDAY: ‘They don’t respect you’

“It’s always going to be about us. Every time we take the field we’re proving to each other how hard, how physical and for how long we can play at a maximum level for each other. Let me tell you this, they don’t respect you. They don’t respect you.” – Herman to the team on Friday

On Friday morning, Texas special teams coordinator Derek Warehime’s phone rang from a South Dakota number. He answered: “Jake’s Mule Barn, how can I help you?”

The caller sheepishly said they got the wrong number and hung up. Not long after, Warehime’s phone rang again from a Baton Rouge number. The call proceeded this way:

Is this Derek?

Absolutely not.

I’m looking for Derek with the football staff.

I don’t know any Dereks with any football staffs. How can I help you?

You guys ready for the big game?

There’s a big game?

Yeah, LSU plays Texas.

You kidding me? They playing today?

No, it’s Saturday. GameDay is going to be there.

That’s Awesome! I guess I might find me a ticket, now that I know.


All I’ve got for you is a nice big f--- you from the LSU Tigers.

With all of their game-planning done and only a walkthrough remaining on Friday, much of the conversation around the football facility shifted to a rash of prank phone calls and vulgar texts from LSU fans that began late Thursday. A picture of a staff phone number list from two years ago got released onto Instagram, which meant a flood of calls from LSU fans to the Texas coaches. (Only Hand was spared.) Soon after, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and other fan bases caught on and followed.

Ehlinger also got flooded with calls, as by Saturday morning he’d received more than 2,000 texts from LSU fans on his old phone. He attributed it to a fraternity there, but was largely unbothered because he’d already switched primary phones.

The invasion was greeted with a mix of reactions from the staff. There was plenty of laughter and mocking of the crude LSU fans’ spelling and accents. Ehlinger joked in the offensive staff room that he could picture a caller, who’d made multiple crude references to a tiger’s anatomy, sitting on his couch with “three teeth and a bottle of whiskey.”

The calls weren’t all sophomoric humor. Strength coach Yancy McKnight got a call from a blocked number that left a voicemail in which the caller threatened to kill McKnight’s family. “You’ll find your family hung in the kitchen with their throats slit,” the voicemail to McKnight said. The caller punctuated with the message: “F--- you.”

As of Sunday, Texas officials were pondering how to handle that specific phone call.

Many of the messages vacillated between tasteless and offensive. Herman received a message calling him a racial slur and there were multiple messages containing homophobic remarks. Nearly every staff member and some support staff members received dozens and dozens of calls and texts, including Lovo and operations director Tory Teykl, who was called “mom.”

The calls and messages came so furiously on Friday that when Herman pulled out his phone after an hour walkthrough, there were 38 texts, seven missed calls and a missed FaceTime. One of the text threads Herman was included on was called Ed O’s Shrimp Boat.

Herman reminded his players multiple times during the week to not make any comments publicly to distract the team. Behind the scenes, he used comments from LSU players as motivation. Star rush end K’Lavon Chaisson called Ehlinger “not much of a threat” and LSU linebacker Michael Divinity predicted a “sack feast” for the Tigers.

Texas players stayed quiet all week, planning their counterpunch on the field Saturday night.

Members of the Texas Longhorns football team joke Saturday Sept. 7, 2019 at the team hotel in Austin, Tx. ( Photo by Edward A. Ornelas )

SATURDAY MORNING: ‘You’re not going to believe this’

“We don’t talk about it around here. We be about it. The toughest guys who you’ll ever meet, they don’t talk trash. They walk into a fight and just start swinging. That’s all they know.” – Herman to the team

At 9:29 a.m. on game day in the team hotel, a flurry of assistant coaches, interns and strength coaches stage an obstacle course in the hallway leading to the ballroom that serves as the team headquarters. The ritual is known as “Morning Juice,” and it’s the quintessential example of Herman’s defiant commitment to defying uptight football norms.

There are a dozen travel-sized boxes of Frosted Flakes opened, with the cereal poured out and crushed up on the floor. Why? Well, Tony the Tiger represents LSU’s Tigers.

Players enter the obstacle course with belly crawls under sheets draped over chairs. And when the players emerge, they turn hard left and sprint down a longer hallway where four strength coaches and support staff pop the players with pillows while they leap over multiple benches.

The only player exempt from the gauntlet is tailback Keaontay Ingram, who is Texas’ lone scholarship tailback and began the season at that position after a rash of injuries. When Ingram approaches the obstacle course, Herman has a security guard give a mock “police escort” through the chaos. “Scholarship running back!” Herman screams.

After all 73 players run through, they gather in a conference room and the song “Still” by the Geto Boys blasts. A dance circle forms, and different players bounce through the middle. Collectively, the players scream out the song’s refrain, “Die mutha----ers! Die!”

Much of the Texas staff has been with Herman since Houston, and some comment on how this feels relatively tame. The Cougars once danced in a parking lot at Disney, before a game with UCF, in front of aghast parents. In Baton Rouge for a game at Tulane, hotel officials kicked the team out of the hallways because it disturbed a quilting convention. Water guns, smoke bombs and water balloons have all been involved.

As the team filed in to eat breakfast, strength intern Chris Terry vacuums the hallways to pick up all the Frosted Flakes. Texas assistant Craig Naivar sums up the morning this way: “Is this the part of your article where you write, ‘You’re not going to believe this?’”

Actor Matthew McConaughey talks with members of the Texas Longhorns in the locker room at half time during the game against the LSU Tigers Saturday Sept. 7, 2019 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Tx. ( Photo by Edward A. Ornelas )

SATURDAY NIGHT: ‘That’s on me’

“When you have invested as much as we have invested, these are supposed to hurt. A lot. I see guys, lips quivering. Mine are too. We wanted that game, but they played better than us. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re not quite there yet. But let’s be clear, [Big 12 commissioner] Bob Bowlsby was not here handing out the trophy. We’ve got a lot of season and schedule ahead of us. Nothing. Ever. Changes.” – Tom Herman postgame

Ehlinger sat alone at his locker and stared at the ground. He fiddled with a wristband in his hands, and after two minutes of a blank expression he peeled off his black socks. He tossed them to the ground in disgust and resumed sitting slumped, eyes fixated on the ground.

Teammates came by and slapped him on the shoulder, and he nodded in appreciation. A sports information official reminded him that he needed to speak to the media, and he nodded. Finally, after about five minutes of digesting, processing and muttering to himself, he punched a code in his locker, pulled out a razor and sliced off his ankle tape.

By conventional standards, Ehlinger played well on Saturday night. He finished the game with 401 yards passing and was responsible for five touchdowns, as the Longhorns didn’t punt in the second half. But he never got a final chance in Texas’ 45-38 loss, as the fluttering onside kick ended up just out of Johnson’s reach. Johnson corralled the ball for a split second before he landed with his left hip out of bounds and the ball and game squirted away.

With that final missed opportunity came the sobering reality of crushed hopes and a four-hour party at DKR coming to a sobering halt. Ehlinger took the loss so hard that he barged into the middle of the beehive of offensive players after a postgame speech from Tim Beck and demanded to say a few words.

“I’m going to take the blame for that game,” he told his offensive teammates in the postgame locker room. “I came out too slow. Y’all did a great job up front, great job [by the] receivers. That’s on me. There’s nothing we can do about the past. Game over. My fault. Move forward. Move forward. I’m taking the blame right now. No one else. This is when we come together.”

LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow #9 celebrates a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns, Saturday Sept. 7, 2019 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. LSU won 45-38. ( Photo by Edward A. Ornelas )

The Texas coaches’ locker room carried a similar shell-shocked vibe. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, after his unit gave up 573 yards, sat shirtless and motionless on a leather chair for about four minutes. He occasionally shook his head in disbelief.

The coaches dropped their game-day sneakers in a large gray bin and hung their belts on the side of it. The sounds of that echoed through the silence, as only the faint volume of Herman’s press conference on the Longhorn Network could be heard from an adjacent room.

The coaches eventually showered and went to meet with the nearly 75 recruits who were visiting unofficially on Saturday, forcing smiles and making conversation to attempt to ensure future Longhorn victories. Each time the locker-room door swung open, the laughter, hugs and recruiting banter in the hallway pierced the silence.

Players filed out of the locker room, grumbling that LSU required 12 trips from trainers to the field during the game, 10 of which came in the second half. That included Chaisson, winking at the Texas staff when he went down with an apparent lower-body ailment late in the second half before walking to the opposite sideline. Texas had one trip from the trainer all game, which came on the onside kick in the final minute. (Expect this to be mentioned prior to next year’s game.)

After Herman finished his press conference, he sat down on the burnt orange stool in front of his locker and muttered: “That was a hell of a college football game.”

Herman doled out bushels of compliments to Burrow, whom he called “elite” in the wake of his 471-yard passing performance amid a cauldron of noise. Herman recruited Burrow to Ohio State nearly five years ago, and the quarterback he pitched to Urban Meyer as the next Alex Smith certainly looked the part in Joe Brady’s aggressive pass game.

In a matchup of big coaching gambles, LSU hit a jackpot with its stunning double-down. Instead of playing conservative and forcing Texas to burn its final timeout on third-and-17 with just over 2:30 left, Burrow somehow eluded pressure to find Justin Jefferson for a 61-yard touchdown.

Herman’s gambles backfired early in the game, as back-to-back red-zone possessions ended with fourth-and-short plays that failed, including a searing drop by Ingram in the end zone. “I’d do it all over again,” Herman said of the risk. “We promised our kids we’d play to win.”

Soon after, Herman let out a dark laugh and asked: “Should I check my phone?” He pulled it out to see 38 new texts, 29 missed calls and three missed FaceTimes, many of which were from Louisiana area codes. “Not as bad as I thought,” he said.

He followed that thought with a simple request to assistant director of football operations Matt Smidebush: “Can we go ahead and get my number changed tomorrow?”

And then he walked out into the steamy night, dialed in to build up Texas for more nights like Saturday.


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6. 2005 Texas (13-0)
Coach: Mack Brown
The No. 2 Longhorns upset No. 1 USC 41-38 in the BCS title game at the Rose Bowl, ending the Trojans' 34-game winning streak and blunting their quest not only for a third straight national title, but to be considered the most dominant team in the history of the game. Texas won thanks to the performance of All-American quarterback Vince Young, who threw for 267 yards and ran for 200.

Young scored the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left, capping the Horns' 12-point comeback in the final four minutes. Young won the Manning and O'Brien quarterback awards, in addition to the Maxwell Award as the game's best player. But he finished runner-up to USC tailback Reggie Bush for the Heisman, and the slight spurred Young and Texas into the Rose Bowl. Texas averaged 50.2 points, scoring at least 40 in 12 games. Texas embarrassed Colorado 70-3 in the Big 12 title game. Safety Michael Huff, like Young a consensus All-American, won the Thorpe Award. Defensive lineman Rodrique Wright and offensive lineman Jonathan Scott also were consensus All-Americans.


17. 1969 Texas (11-0)
Coach: Darrell Royal
Using the newfangled wishbone offense that Longhorns assistant Emory Bellard had created the previous year, Texas extended its winning streak to 20 games with impressive dominance. Only No. 8 Oklahoma (27-17) came within 10 points of Texas until the season finale, a showdown at No. 2 Arkansas. ABC moved the game from its usual October date with the hope that both teams would be undefeated. Not only did that happen, but Michigan's 24-12 upset of season-long No. 1 Ohio State cleared the way for Texas and Arkansas to be ranked 1-2. Texas scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to win 15-14 and closed out the season with a 21-17 defeat of No. 9 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, the Fighting Irish's first bowl game in 44 seasons. Only offensive lineman Bob McKay (a future College Football Hall of Famer) made the All-America team. The Longhorns averaged 68 rushes and 13 passes per game. Yet with nine backs rushing for at least 200 yards, Jim Bertelsen led the team with only 740 rushing yards.



27. 1963 Texas (11-0) 
Titles: AP, FWAA, NFF, UPI
Coach: Darrell Royal
Led by: QB Duke Carlisle, DL Scott Appleton, LB Tommy Nobis
What to know: Defeated No. 1 Oklahoma in Dallas, and No. 2 Navy in the Cotton Bowl. Texas won five of its last six regular-season games by a touchdown or less, including a 7-0 victory over Baylor, in which two-way star Carlisle made a leaping interception in the end zone to preserve the win.



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Colleges Perspective

Mack Brown’s return to coaching was laid out by his wife: Hawaii, the Bahamas or UNC

Coach Mack Brown, who coached North Carolina from 1988 until 1997, is off to a 2-0 start in his return. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
September 11 at 1:04 PM

If you ask Mack Brown when he knew he wanted to coach again, his answer is exact: Aug. 10, 2018. If you ask him who made it clear to him that he should coach again, his answer is equally exact: His wife, Sally.

On Friday night, Brown, 68, will be on the North Carolina sideline at Wake Forest, coaching the 2-0 Tar Heels against the 2-0 Demon Deacons. A year ago, he would have been working the game from the press box as ESPN’s color commentator.

“I’m pretty sure Adam Amin, my partner the last two years, will say to me, ‘Are you crazy? Your biggest concern tonight should be our open,’ ” Brown said, laughing. “Maybe he’s right, but I can honestly say I’ll be exactly where I want to be, where I feel I belong.”

Brown’s road to that sideline began six years ago, when he resigned as the coach at Texas after 16 seasons that included a national championship and nine straight seasons with at least 10 wins. The Longhorns had gone 5-7 in 2010 — one year after losing to Alabama in the national championship game — but had won eight, nine and eight games the next three seasons.

Not good enough. Not good enough for many of Texas’s impatient boosters, but, more important, not good enough for Brown.

“I’d lost the joy of coaching,” he said earlier this week. “There were times after a win when I was shouting at my assistants leaving the field because I wasn’t happy with the way we’d played. I had lost what I started out to be in coaching: Someone who had a positive effect on the lives of my players. Don’t get me wrong, I always wanted to win, but, after we’d won and won and won, it became more about not wanting to lose than enjoying wins. It was definitely time for me to step away.”

Brown was 63 and had won 244 games at four schools: Appalachian State, Tulane, North Carolina and Texas. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame last year. As it turned out, it was that election that led Brown back to Chapel Hill.

[Barry Svrluga: What’s new with Maryland football? Let’s start with relevance and fun.]

Brown said Hall of Fame chief executive Steve Hatchell “suggested that, before I was inducted, I should try to spend some time thanking the people who had made this possible. I decided to go back to see people — especially players and coaches — who I’d worked with along the way.”

And so it was, on Aug. 10, that Brown found himself back in Chapel Hill, renewing friendships with many of those he had coached there.

“When the day was over, Sally said to me she now knew two things for certain,” Brown said. “The first was that it was always important to know exactly what you were saying when talking to young people because, clearly, it impacted them. The second was that there was clearly a void in my life. She said, ‘You’ve always been a fixer. You’ve got nothing to fix right now.’ ”

After leaving Texas, Brown had been contacted by schools to gauge whether he’d be interested in returning to coach. “I couldn’t get out of my mind how miserable I’d been at the end of 10-win seasons,” he said. “I’d gone from passion to obsession the last few years at Texas. I didn’t want to put myself through that again.”

After the Chapel Hill trip, he sat his wife down and said, “If you’re serious that I should coach again, where would you be willing to go? She said there were three places: Hawaii, the Bahamas and Carolina. I told her the Bahamas didn’t have a team. She said, ‘Well, maybe we could start one.’ ”

The other two places seemed unlikely to have a coaching vacancy anytime soon: Nick Rolovich was going into his third season and had Hawaii turned in the right direction. North Carolina’s Larry Fedora was coming off a 3-9 season but had just signed a five-year, $15 million contract.

Brown went back to working ESPN games and watched as Carolina had another disappointing season, going 2-9. Fedora was under pressure, not only because of the team’s record but because of comments he had made during the preseason ACC media days in which he had said, among other things, that it hadn’t been proven that football caused CTE and that football might be pushed, “so far to one extreme that you won’t recognize the game 10 years from now.” Then he added: “I do believe if it gets to that point our country will go down.”

A coach could probably survive making comments like that if he had gone 9-3 and then 9-2, but not after following up 3-9 with 2-9. Even though the school would have to pay Fedora $12 million to not coach, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham fired him the day after the season ended.

That night, he called Brown.

Brown told Cunningham he had no interest in interviewing for the job. “I wasn’t going to be out there in the media as ‘one of five’ [candidates] and wade through all of that,” he said. “I told Bubba that and he said, ‘I’m offering you the job right now.’ ”

Naturally, he had to check with Sally. He’d met the location criteria. She had one more requirement: “You can’t get as upset about losses, or even unconvincing wins, as you did the last few years at Texas.”

Brown agreed. Two days later he was back at the place where he’d coached for 10 years, beginning in 1988, and had first made a national name for himself.

His first two Tar Heels teams went 1-10. By 1996, the Tar Heels were 10-2 and then went 10-1 in the 1997 regular season, leading to Brown being offered the Texas job. With new head coach Carl Torbush in charge for that season’s Gator Bowl, North Carolina destroyed Virginia Tech, 42-3. A headline in a newsletter devoted to UNC athletics said: “Who needs Mack Brown?”

Twenty-one years later — after going through five coaches; an embarrassing NCAA investigation that led to 16 wins being vacated and 11 losing seasons, including the two seasons of vacated wins — it turned out that North Carolina needed Mack Brown … again.

After UNC opened the season with a come-from-behind win over South Carolina, Brown danced for his players in the locker room after choking up in a postgame TV interview. A week later, the Tar Heels scored the winning touchdown with 1:01 left to beat a Miami team it lost to 47-10 a year ago. After Wake Forest on Friday, comes a home game against Appalachian State and then … Clemson. People around Chapel Hill are already talking about that game being a national TV game between two unbeaten teams.

“I hear that talk,” Brown said. “And you bet it concerns me. These players aren’t used to this. We’ve already won as many games as last season. They have to understand they can’t let down even a little bit or we’ll lose.”

And, if they do, can Brown handle it? He laughed. “Well, the first loss hasn’t come yet, but it will come,” he said. “That will be the test. But I think I can handle it. At least, I better.”

If he doesn’t, he’ll have to answer to Sally. That undoubtedly frightens him more than the notion of losing.




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Illustration for article titled Least Loyal Coach In Recent Memory Demands Total Loyalty From His Recruits Photo: Michael Reaves (Getty Images)

Manny Diaz, who was very briefly the Temple Owls’ head coach before he abandoned his contract without coaching a single game because he found a more appealing job with the Miami Hurricanes, would be better served staying away from demanding pledges of fealty from college football recruits, especially when they’re not prevented from taking visits elsewhere.

Marcus Clarke, a recruit who had met with Diaz in July and committed to Miami, told Manny Navarro of The Athletic that the coach tried to persuade him to stop visiting any other schools and pledge their souls to the Canes. From the report:

“He told me once I’m fully committed, he didn’t want me to take any more (official) visits because Miami is the place to be and no other place is really worth visiting if you really want to be committed to the new Miami,” Clarke said Tuesday night.

“I was kind of shocked. … Usually coaches are like, ‘Go ahead and take your visits because you don’t get a lot of them.’ I do kind of feel like I still want to take my visits. I’m still thinking about it right now. But I do just want to stay humble to Miami. So, I want to see (the next) game, see how it goes.”


Another recruit, Xavier Restrepo, confirmed having a similar experience with Diaz, saying the coach told players and parents “you’re either going to be with Miami kicking tails or you’re going to go against Miami and get your tail kicked.”

When Diaz was on a radio show that same month talking about “what it means to be a Miami Hurricane,” he tried to make it sound like playing college football for him was a bond on par with marriage—you know, except one side of the relationship has all the power:

“If we all love this great football program, we should not let others defile it, in my opinion,” Diaz said. “And for whatever reason, that’s happened too often in recruiting in the last few years and that’s one of the things we’re really trying to change and stamp out and make these young men in South Florida understand. It means something to be a Miami Hurricane. And if you don’t understand what it means, that’s fine, you can go somewhere else. But we will win games here with people who understand the culture of being a Hurricane, the culture of competing for your community, and wearing that U with pride.”




When asked by Navarro about those comments this week, Diaz just kept beating the “commitment” drum:

“What I’ll tell you broadly is there are some things that we are changing in terms of what we will do to take a commitment,” he said. “Not all those things are necessary grandfathered. But there are some things going forward that defines what it means to be committed to Miami, a series of criteria that has to happen for that to happen. There was a series of criteria of what happens once you are committed to Miami that’s never been in place in the past, and (that’s something) our recruits are aware of now.”




That criteria seems to include: Only come to Miami if you promise not to follow in coach’s footsteps. This past December, Diaz signed a five-year dealwith Temple and then left within a month. Commitment here is a one-way street. If Diaz gets fired—the Hurricanes are 0-2 this season for the first time since 1978, although it’s his first season—or more likely, if Diaz abandons ship for job security elsewhere done the line, is he going to take all those 100-percent committed players with him?




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Bill Haisten: Mike Gundy savors a sign of defensive progress as Longhorns loom


Last week, Joel Klatt designated Oklahoma State as the No. 1 sleeper team in college football.

“(The Cowboys aren’t) even ranked yet,” the Fox Sports television analyst tweeted, “but they will be soon.”


During the first period of Saturday’s Oklahoma State-Tulsa game at Chapman Stadium, the Cowboys looked like an underrated dynamo. In bolting to a 17-0 lead, they averaged 8 yards per play.

After the hot start, however, OSU wasn’t a sleeper. OSU was sleepy.

During the entirety of the second period and some of the third, OSU was outplayed by the Golden Hurricane.

The Cowboys trailed 21-20 at halftime with plenty of bad to go around. There had been shoddy tackling. There had been a terrible play-call (a 2-yard pass in a third-and-5 situation). There had been a spectacularly conspicuous failure in coverage — a mistake that resulted in a wide-open Keylon Stokes collecting a 39-yard TD pass from TU quarterback Zach Smith. Neither of OSU’s safeties was within 10 yards of Stokes.

OSU fans and Mike Gundy recognized an unsettling, obvious truth: the Cowboys’ poor second quarter bore a striking resemblance to OSU’s sorry 2018 performances at Kansas State and Baylor. The road favorite each time — and in spite of talent advantages — OSU lost in both of those games.

The Oklahoma State of Saturday’s second period would have no chance of beating Texas in next week’s Big 12 opener at Austin.

Texas would truck the second-quarter Cowboys.

However, the Oklahoma State of the second half has a chance to win in Austin — for the sixth consecutive time.

After spending 20 halftime minutes in the sweatbox that qualifies as a visitors’ locker room, the Cowboys returned with substantially better defense against TU.

During the second half of a 40-21 Cowboy victory, Tulsa was scoreless. Hurricane QBs Smith and Seth Boomer were 10-of-22 passing. The Golden Hurricane run game amounted to 32 yards on 21 attempts.

Before halftime, TU averaged 5.7 yards per snap. After halftime: 3.2.

Gundy praised playmakers Chuba Hubbard, Tylan Wallace and Spencer Sanders after the game, but OSU’s coach seemed most pleased with his defensive coaches.

With 10 minutes left to play and TU trailing by 12 points, Philip Montgomery left his offense on the field for a fourth-and-5 gamble from the OSU 6-yard line.

Gundy himself called for a safety blitz. Kolby Harvell-Peel bolted into the backfield for a 9-yard sack of Smith.

“That was a really, really good job by our (defensive staff) — making adjustments at halftime, and then our players taking the information from the locker room to the field to shut (TU) down,” said Gundy, who as an OSU quarterback, assistant and head coach is 10-4 against the Golden Hurricane.


“And, obviously,” Gundy added, “we rushed the ball pretty well.”

Oklahoma State rushed for 337 yards. Hubbard, who solidified his status as an elite tailback, carried 32 times for 256 yards and three TDs.

In his past seven games, Hubbard has run for 947 yards and 12 TDs. If that 135-yard average were sustained over a 13-game season, it would result in 1,755 yards.

In Oklahoma State football history, only Barry Sanders, Terry Miller, Ernest Anderson and Thurman Thomas have gotten single-season rushing totals of at least 1,755 yards.

With gold-medal track speed and amazing balance, Hubbard is off to a 521-yard, three-game start this season. He and Wallace give Oklahoma State a chance to compete in every game, but to actually contend in the Big 12, OSU consistently needs the type of defense it executed during Saturday’s second half.

Last year, OSU was dogged by stupid penalties. Against TU, while trailing on the road and in need of something positive with three minutes left in the third period, the Cowboys got a third-down stop — and then got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. TU was given a fresh set of downs near midfield.

If the bad penalties are eliminated and if the Hubbard-Wallace big plays are bundled with the sort of defense seen during Saturday’s second half, OSU would be positioned to steal another road win in Austin.

Also, Klatt would gain some traction with his contention Oklahoma State is a national “sleeper” to watch.



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UT-Austin Longhorns Fans Eye 'Good Luck' Food Ahead Of Key Game



AUSTIN, TX — Wearing the same jersey. Refusing to shave. Waving rally towels with the precision of a religious rite. These are among the rituals of superstitious Longhorns fans doing their bit to ensure victory for the home team.

But did you know there also are rituals in the culinary realm? Grubhub officials on Monday sent a list of the most popular "good luck" foods Longhorns fans order ahead of games, all to be swallowed along with the hopes and dreams of fans that are legion. UT-Austin has a must-win game against Oklahoma State University this week (it's on Saturday, Sept. 21), and Longhorns fans are poised to order their good luck fare — particularly as the hometown team has lost its last four games against their rival.

There's going to be a lot of nervous eating in the days ahead. And with good reason: Texas starts Big 12 play on Saturday against a football program that has won more consecutive games over the Longhorns than any program in UT history.


Good news: It's a home game, so there's that. And luckily, there's plenty of good luck grub to enhance chances of a victory even more. Grubhub sent Patch a list of the most popular dishes among superstitious football fans. The percentages relate to the positive spike in food orders on winning game days in comparison to losing game days, Grubhub tells us.

Texas Longhorns' Good Luck Foods

  1. Chicken taco : 184% more popular
  2. Broccoli and cheese soup : 134% more popular
  3. Chicken quesadilla : 119% more popular
  4. Fettuccine alfredo : 108% more popular
  5. Tonkotsu ramen : 100% more popular
  6. Hawaiian pizza : 99% more popular
  7. Chicken mini quesadilla : 96% more popular
  8. Beef stir fry : 94% more popular
  9. Steak quesadilla : 90% more popular
  10. Mexican pizza : 69% more popular

As part of its methodology, Grubhub notes these are the most popular foods ordered on days the Texas Longhorns won in comparison to games they lost during the 2018-19 sea


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The Texas streak: A look at OSU's last five wins in Austin

In a 6 p.m., ABC-televised Big 12 opener on Saturday, Oklahoma State visits 12th-ranked Texas. OSU attempts to record what would be a fifth consecutive win over the Longhorns.

Before 2010, the Oklahoma State football program was 2-22 in its series against Texas. In 2010-18, the Cowboys were 7-2 against the Longhorns. In games played in Austin, OSU has recorded five consecutive victories. A review of the Austin streak:

2010: Oklahoma State 33, Texas 16


Nov. 13

The Longhorns had no answer for OSU’s offensive weapons. Brandon Weeden passed for 409 yards. Kendall Hunter rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Blackmon totaled nine catches for 145 yards. He and Weeden connected for a 67-yard TD as OSU won in Austin for the first time since 1944.


2011: Oklahoma State 38, Texas 26


Oct. 15

 Texas nearly doubled Oklahoma State in time of possession, but the Cowboy offensive line dominated the Texas defensive front. OSU’s run game was the difference. For the Cowboys, former Union star Jeremy Smith ran for 140 yards and two TDs. OSU averaged 7.5 yards per rush attempt.


2013: Oklahoma State 38, Texas 13


Nov. 16

 The Cowboy defense recorded eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage and intercepted Texas quarterback Case McCoy three times. As OSU’s Clint Chelf was in a stretch of playing the best football of his life, the Cowboy QB passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more while leading OSU in rushing with 95 yards.


2015: Oklahoma State 30, Texas 27


Sept. 26

 The Cowboys stole this one. OSU’s Ben Grogan booted two field goals during the final 93 seconds. The second of the field goals was converted with six seconds left to play, after Texas punter Michael Dickson dropped a long snap and gave OSU great field position. The Cowboys averaged only 2.2 yards per rush attempt but sacked Longhorn QB Jerrod Heard seven times.

Tulsa World file

2017: Oklahoma State 13, Texas 10 (OT)


Oct. 21

 Again, OSU’s defense stepped up nicely in Austin. The Longhorns finished with only 283 total yards and averaged 1.3 per rush attempt. During the overtime period, after OSU had taken a three-point lead on a Matt Ammendola field goal, Texas freshman QB Sam Ehlinger lobbed a pass into the end zone. OSU’s Ramon Richards ended the game with an easy interception.




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Bill Haisten: In what could be a classic, Texas finally seems dialed in for OSU


While Auburn-Texas A&M and Notre Dame-Georgia are compelling, and while Michigan-Wisconsin is important but might be dreadfully boring, the best game on this weekend’s college football schedule is Oklahoma State-Texas.

Bill Connelly is an analytics guru for ESPN. When he crunched the numbers on OSU-Texas, Connelly’s calculation had the Longhorns favored by four-tenths of a point.

When the unranked Cowboys visit 12th-ranked Texas in a 6 p.m. Saturday (on ABC) showdown witnessed by a Royal-Memorial Stadium sellout crowd of more than 100,000, OSU attempts to record its fifth consecutive win over Texas overall and its sixth in a row in Austin.


OSU takes a dynamic offense and a question-mark defense to Texas. I won’t be too surprised if coach Mike Gundy’s team prevails again in Austin because he does have the nation’s leading rusher (Chuba Hubbard) and leading receiver (Tylan Wallace), but I don’t expect it. Not this time.

This time, the University of Texas and its $200 million athletics budget overcome OSU and its $85 million budget.

It feels like the Cowboys have Texas’ attention.

For the first time, it feels like the Texas program and its fans have actually circled the Oklahoma State game on the schedule. In Austin, there appears to be an “enough is enough” approach to the OSU game.

Consider the pressure on Tom Herman and the Longhorns. If Herman’s team loses on Saturday, he would be 0-3 against Gundy.

In a national sense, this is an elimination challenge for Texas. On their home turf two weeks ago, the Longhorns were beaten by LSU. A loss to Oklahoma State would finish Texas as a contender for College Football Playoff participation.

If OSU fans are curious about the tone of Austin conversation this week, here’s an example from an Austin American-Statesman podcast involving columnists Cedric Golden and Kirk Bohls.

Golden: “The Mullet has it going. He always has a good quarterback, and this Spencer Sanders is no joke.”

Bohls: “(Gundy) always has great skill-position talent. … Who’s to say (OSU) doesn’t have a better running game than LSU?”

By Herman and the Austin media, Texas fans have been reminded — or warned — that OSU has elite weapons.

Within the Big 12, Hubbard is the league’s rushing leader — by 49 yards per game. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts is in second place. In receiving, Wallace is the conference leader by 40 yards per game.

Before 2010, OSU’s lifetime record against the Longhorns was 2-22. During this decade, the Cowboys are 7-2 against Texas.

On Saturday, Gundy and Herman are reunited for the first time since their heated exchange during the final minute of last year’s 38-35 OSU triumph in Stillwater.

None of Oklahoma State’s five consecutive road victories over Texas should be remembered as having been an upset.

In 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017, Gundy had the better team. The Cowboys didn’t always perform like the better team (particularly in 2015 and 2017), but they found a way to steal success in Austin.

The OSU ascent to its best football decade coincided exactly with Texas’ descent to mediocrity. Reason No. 1 for OSU’s recent ownership of Texas: a pronounced advantage at the quarterback position.

Brandon Weeden was Gundy’s starter in 2010 and 2011.

In 2013, when OSU hammered Mack Brown’s final Texas team 38-13 in Austin, Clint Chelf was playing the best football of his life. He passed for two touchdowns and ran for two that day.

In 2015 and 2017, the OSU starter was Mason Rudolph.


Texas countered with quarterbacks Garrett Gilbert (2010), David Ash (2011), Case McCoy (2013), Jerrod Heard (2015) and Sam Ehlinger (2017).

Ehlinger today is a celebrated junior who on Saturday makes his 24th career start. OSU redshirt freshman QB Spencer Sanders makes his fourth start.

In 2017, however, Ehlinger was a freshman who made a mistake in overtime — lobbing a pass into the end zone, and watching OSU’s Ramon Richards intercept it and ice a 13-10 victory over the Cowboys.

Somehow, some way, there’s got to be video of the ceremony that preceded the start of the 2006 Oklahoma State-Texas football game. To commemorate his first game in Austin as a head coach, Gundy was given a black cowboy hat by UT officials.

Gundy placed the hat on his head and waved to the Royal-Memorial Stadium crowd of 89,036. He wore it while strolling back to the visitors’ locker room.

At that time, the Cowboys coach kept his hair cut short. Imagine the combination now of the Gundy mullet and a black cowboy hat. Twitter would go crazy.

Gundy’s memory of the 2006 ceremony: “It’s like they are throwing you to the wolves: ‘Here’s a hat. We’re getting ready to kick your (bleep).’”

Texas defeated OSU 36-10 in 2006, 38-35 in Stillwater in 2007 (as the Cowboys blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead), 28-24 in 2008 (as Texas was ranked No. 1 and previously unbeaten OSU was seventh) and 41-14 in 2009.

By the end of the 2009 game, Gundy was 0-5 against Texas. He might wondered whether he would ever beat Texas.

This week, he and the Cowboys have a chance to get a fifth consecutive victory over the Longhorns. Even with Texas having been in a depressed football state during most of this decade, OSU’s recent dominance over the Longhorns should be listed among the greatest achievements in program history.

On Saturday night, you’ll see big plays, big mistakes and huge momentum swings. As football entertainment goes, OSU-Texas should deliver.

The expectation is that the Longhorns are really ready for OSU this time, and that they respond favorably to this pressure assignment. Texas gets a three-point win in what could be a classic.




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3.  Texas is on upset alert.

Chuba Hubbard
Chuba Hubbard (AP Images)

Farrell’s take: FACT. I like Oklahoma State and especially like its running back 

 and main receiver  . They can put up points on Texas and it will come down to how the defense plays. Gundy owns Texas in recent years especially in Austin, so this will be a hard game for the Longhorns. I still think Tom Herman and his team pull out a win but this will be a close one.

Gorney’s take: FICTION. I have an issue calling this an upset. Oklahoma State has beaten Texas the last five times the two teams have played in Austin and the Cowboys have won seven of the last 10 matchups overall. Texas is an improved team, but I love the trio of quarterback 

, Hubbard and Wallace plus some other pieces as well. Oklahoma State is getting 5.5 points in this game and the Cowboys can definitely win outright or cover.



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Ask Farrell: Can Texas end its slump vs. Oklahoma State?

Chuba Hubbard runs past a pair of Texas defenders last October.
Chuba Hubbard runs past a pair of Texas defenders last October. (AP Images)
Adam Gorney and Mike Farrell

MORE ASK FARRELL: Will Michigan-Wisconsin winner challenge Ohio State?

One game not a lot of people outside Stillwater and Austin are talking about this weekend is the Oklahoma State-Texas matchup.

Everybody is discussing Notre Dame-Georgia, and Auburn-Texas A&M seems top of mind. Even the Tennessee-Florida rivalry game and especially the Michigan-Wisconsin matchup are of interest.

But Oklahoma State has won five straight games over Texas in Austin, the longest streak by any program against the Longhorns, and the Cowboys have beaten Texas four straight times.

And this Oklahoma State team is no pushover.


 has been outstanding as a pass threat but also running the ball and escaping pressure when needed. Running back   and wide receiver   have been two of the most dynamic players in all of college football.

Texas is coming off a blowout win over Rice but is still smarting after losing to LSU two weeks ago in a thriller. The Longhorns are currently 2-1 and for a team that has quarterback 

, a bevy of offensive weapons and a lot of talented defensive playmakers, a 2-2 start would be more than disappointing.

The Longhorns have only had one 10-win season since 2009, but a big win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and a 10-4 finish last year pushed the excitement level pretty high entering this year.

Another loss to Oklahoma State, especially another one in Austin, would throw a lot of cold water on that excitement.


We ask Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell if he sees Texas getting over this Oklahoma State hump and garnering another win, or if the struggles will continue and what that would say about a disappointing start to Texas’ season under coach Tom Herman.

“I think this will be a close game and Okahoma State always gives Texas fits under Mike Gundy, especially in Austin, but I think the Longhorns pull this one out. Both offenses will put up points and each have excellent weapons at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, but this will come down to the trenches and I like Texas better there. Especially along the defensive line I think Texas has a clear edge and the Longhorns will pressure Sanders much more than Oklahoma State will get to Ehlinger.

"A loss would be brutal for Texas, but this team knows what it is playing for and it will be up to the task. A high-scoring, 41-30 win for Texas.”



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2 hours ago, primal defense said:

Wow! Poor Cougar High.


WATCH: Tulane tricks with fake kneel down, scores thrilling TD in final seconds to shock Houston





Watched the game and loved to see Holgerson get beat again.

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19 minutes ago, dillohorn said:

I didn't know that.

Major Applewhite knows.

Major Applewhite has been Houston’s head coach for a matter of hours and the honeymoon period is already over.

Houston board chairman Tilman Fertitta explained Friday the Cougars wanted a coach who would remain in Space City for a number of years, but that he better win “nine, 10, 11 games a year, too, from our standpoint.



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21 minutes ago, primal defense said:

Major Applewhite knows.

Major Applewhite has been Houston’s head coach for a matter of hours and the honeymoon period is already over.

Houston board chairman Tilman Fertitta explained Friday the Cougars wanted a coach who would remain in Space City for a number of years, but that he better win “nine, 10, 11 games a year, too, from our standpoint.



Saw Fertitta on Fox and Friends this morning.

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Friday Five: Five teams not named Alabama or Clemson who have a realistic shot to win the national title

If the Crimson Tide or the Tigers don't win the College Football Playoff, here's five teams who could


Over the summer, I wrote about the 16 teams that can realistically win a national title. The premise of the post that while every team technically starts the season with the same chance, the reality is much different. Now, only a few weeks into the season, that list of 16 has been culled a bit.

It hasn't stopped anybody from asking me a familiar question, though. Whether on radio, podcasts or social media, I've been asked multiple times some variation of "which team is most likely to win the national title if it isn't Alabama or Clemson?"

Well, for this week's Friday Five, I'm going to answer the question, though I doubt it will stop anybody from asking me. There's still a very long way to go in the season, but based on what we've all seen so far, these are the five teams I would give the best odds to right now.

5. Texas: Sometimes I wish I called this feature Friday Four instead of Friday Five because it's not always easy coming up with a fifth entry for the list. This was one of those times. I was going back-and-forth between Texas and all the honorable mentions listed below and ultimately decided on Texas for a couple of reasons. First of all, Texas is a talented team, and you need talent to win national titles. In 247Sports's team talent rankings, the Longhorns rank 7th in the country, ahead of the honorable mentions. More than that, however, Texas has an "easier" path to the College Football Playoff.

There's only one obstacle in its way in the Big 12, and it's named Oklahoma. Now, it won't be easy to beat Oklahoma twice in the same season, but it's not impossible. Meanwhile, Auburn might be the third or fourth-best team in its own division. Michigan hasn't beaten Ohio State since 2011. Penn State has to get through Ohio State as well. Notre Dame can get to the playoff, but it has to be perfect to do so, and that's very hard to do. Then there's Oregon, which might be the best team in the Pac-12, but being the best team in the Pac-12 doesn't seem to mean much to those who decide which teams get in. So Texas gets this fifth spot in a bit of a tie-breaker.


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SEC dethroned? How P5 leagues stack up after non-conference play


Big 12

Overall: 22-5 (81.5%)
Vs. FBS: 13-5 (72.2%)
Vs. P-5: 6-4 (60%)
Vs. Ranked Teams: 0-2 (0%)

Notable Results: Iowa 18, Iowa State 17 | LSU 45, Texas 38 | West Virginia 44, NC State 27

You could make an argument coming out of non-conference play that the Big 12 is the strongest top-to-bottom league. The Big 12 has the best overall win percentage among the Power Five, and it fell only a few percentage points behind the Big Ten for top winning percentage against the FBS. The Big 12 is also the only league with a win percentage of 60-plus against the Power Five. The only thing holding the Big 12 back is a lack of ranked victories. But it’s not as if its representatives got blown out. Texas (LSU) and Iowa State (Iowa) both lost in the final minutes. The Big 12 is greatly buoyed by unexpected results from the projected bottom half of the league. Kansas (Boston College), West Virginia (NC State) and Kansas State (Mississippi State) each won a Power Five game they weren’t expected to.


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Arkansas hits rock bottom; Michigan just not good

Houston: As long as Tilman Fertitta is the sugar daddy for Houston’s athletic program, he’ll never live down a quote from December 2016 when he declared that his new coaching hire Major Applewhite needed to win at least nine, 10, 11 games to keep his job because anything less was unacceptable at a program like Houston. “We did get rid of a coach that won eight games three years ago,” Fertitta said. “Don’t ever forget that.” True to his word, Houston fired Applewhite after going 7-5 and 8-5 in his two seasons so that Fertitta could make Dana Holgorsen the highest-paid coach in the Group of Five conferences at $4 million a year. What does an uber-booster with an uncontrollable ego and unrealistic expectations think he's getting for that kind of contract? Surely something better than losses to Tulane.

Houston is now 1-3 under Holgorsen after losing 38-31 to the Green Wave, blowing a 28-7 lead and allowing a two-play, 71-yard touchdown drive to end the game after Houston tied it up on a field goal with 21 seconds remaining. It was an ugly loss for the Cougars in what looks like an ugly season with a defense that isn't very good and more losses coming in an American Athletic Conference that Houston thinks it’s too good to be part of in the first place. Maybe, eventually, Fertitta will understand those 8-4 seasons that got his coaches fired aren’t so bad after all. 


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