(Photo: USA Today)
Entering Saturday's game, Texas upsetting Alabama was viewed as an afterthought. With Alabama being favored by over 20 points, the Longhorns would have been lucky to stay competitive in the contest for a half. However, the Longhorns showed fight, forcing Alabama to make a game-winning drive in the final minutes of the game to win 20-19.
At the start of Saturday's contest, things were looking promising for the Longhorns who were on Alabama's heels with redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers leading the way. However, with the ball in Crimson Tide territory, down just 10-3 in the first quarter, Ewers suffered an injury at the hands of Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner.
With Ewers sidelined, sophomore quarterback Hudson Card entered the game and put his body on the line, sustaining an injury of his own in the third quarter. However, the real catalyst for the Longhorns on Saturday was the defense, a unit which stepped up when it needed to. You could see a noticeable difference in how the team performed defensively, particularly in their ability to make open field tackles. Furthermore, defensive backs such as Anthony Cook were not afraid to lay the lumber against the opponent behind the line of scrimmage. Along with Cook, Jaylan Ford was flying to the ball all night and led the team with 10 tackles.
Unfortunately for Texas, the Alabama defense also did its job against the Longhorns, holding Longhorns star running back Bijan Robinson to 57 yards rushing. With injuries at quarterback and a lack of production from the running backs, the Longhorns had to settle for field goals - an aspect of the game which has been far from automatic so far this season. But, Longhorns sophomore kicker Bert Auburn was able to finish the night with four field goal makes on five attempts, with a miss coming right before halftime after a botched snap and hold. While Auburn showed off his clutch genes with a 49-yard field goal make to give the Longhorns a 19-17 lead with 1:29 left in the game, field goals don't kill Alabama.
As a result, on Alabama's final offensive drive of the game, quarterback Bryce Young did what he does best - make plays. In just about the span of a minute, Young was able to move the Crimson Tide down the field with his arm and legs, setting up kicker Will Reichard for the game-winning field goal with only a few seconds left in the game.
There were plenty of tumultuous turns during the highly-anticipated non-conference matchup, from Ewers' injury to Ryan Watts' missed sack to a no-call on a potential safety on Alabama's Bryce Young, which would have given the Longhorns a 12-10 third quarter lead with the ball. Ultimately, Alabama was able to ride the tide and struck when they needed to.
Following the game, Bijan Robinson discussed his takeaways from Texas's game against Alabama and said, "It's a growing lesson for this team. We understand that we came out here and never gave up."
Sarkisian remained just as positive as Robinson, after the Longhorns were able to push the nation's top-ranked team to the wire saying, "We didn't lose today, we just ran out of time."
In addition to the nail-biting football game on the field, the game day atmosphere was notably electric. In fact, Saturday's game set the attendance record for Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium at 105,213. Texas wide receiver Jordan Whittington said that "We got the best fans in the country... it was loud... we even had to tell them to chill so we could get the play."
Next weekend, the Longhorns will once again play at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, this time with UTSA set to come in town at 7 P.M. (CT). The game will be aired on the Longhorn Network.
- QB Hudson Card: 14/22, 158 passing yards
- QB Quinn Ewers: 9/12, 134 passing yards
- RB Bijan Robinson: 21 carries, 57 rushing yards, 1 touchdown
- WR Xavier Worthy: 5 receptions, 97 receiving yards
- LB Jaylan Ford: 10 tackles, 1 sack