The No.7-ranked Texas Longhorns survived a scare from No.23 Kansas State and kept their College Football Playoff and Big 12 title hopes alive with a 33-30 overtime win in Austin on Saturday.
The Longhorns used their speed and the strong arm of redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy to their advantage, taking an early lead with their vertical passing game while their defense kept the Wildcats from moving the ball. However, Kansas State fought back in the fourth quarter and forced overtime, losing on a failed fourth-down conversion.
“We found a way to make it hard on ourselves today, turning the ball over the way that we did, but we just continue to fight,” Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian told Fox Sports after the win. “… We find a way to win, and I think that’s what championship teams do. I think this is a championship-caliber team, [but] we’ve got to keep trying to get better.”
After both teams were held to punts on their first possessions, Texas’ Xavier Worthy set the Longhorns up on the Kansas State side of the field after an 18-yard punt return. Three plays later, Murphy unloaded a ball deep down the field to Adonai Mitchell for a 37-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
Texas continued to shut down the Kansas State offense, forcing punts on its first six possessions. The Wildcats defense held Texas to a field goal after another deep drive, but CJ Baxter’s 54-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one increased the lead to 17.
After failing to convert off a couple of second-quarter turnovers from the Texas offense, a blocked punt kept Kansas State in the game. Quarterback Will Howard connected with wide receiver Jayce Brown for a 28-yard gain and found wide receiver Phillip Brooks for a six-yard touchdown to finish the drive and cut the lead to 10 just before halftime.
The Wildcats had all the momentum entering the third quarter, but Texas snatched it back — intercepting a bobbled deep pass on the first drive of the second half and recovering a fumble at the Kansas State five-yard line later in the third quarter. Jonathon Brooks scored on the very next play after the fumble recovery, giving Texas a 24-7 lead.
After a Bert Auburn field goal made it 27-7, Kansas State roared back with a 20-0 run to tie the game thanks to a couple of fumble recoveries. The Wildcats scored a touchdown after the field goal and recovered fumbles on consecutive possessions defensively, giving their offense short fields and opportunities to score quickly.
Howard connected with Brown on a 32-yard pass to tie the game, but it remained tied as Kansas State had a miscommunication on its extra point attempt. Texas reclaimed the lead with a field goal, and Kansas State’s Chris Tennant converted a 45-yard kick to send the game to overtime.
After holding the Longhorns to a field goal, the Wildcats decided to go for the win on fourth-and-goal. Howard was immediately pressured in the pocket but got a pass away as he stumbled to the turf. The throw hit a few players but fell to the ground for a Texas win.
WHAT TO KNOW
— No.7 Texas beat No.23 Kansas State in overtime to remain in the Big 12 and College Football Playoff race. The Longhorns have won seven in a row against the Wildcats.
— Texas entered the game ranked in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings (established in 2014) for the first time. It was also the first time both Texas and Kansas State faced each other as ranked opponents in the AP Top 25 since 2012.
— Both teams entered the game as part of a five-way tie atop the Big 12 standings.
— Kansas State has never defeated Texas with Chris Klieman as its head coach.
— Murphy made his second consecutive start in place of an injured Quinn Ewers for Texas and threw for 248 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
BY THE NUMBERS
— Texas outgained Kansas State 307-106 in the first half, while the Wildcats outgained the Longhorns 254-171 in the second half. Kansas State also outscored Texas 23-6 in the second half.
— Kansas State had converted 74.1% of its third-down attempts over its previous two games but was held to just 2/13 (15%) on Saturday.
— Texas running back Jonathon Brooks ran for over 100 yards for the fifth time this season.
— Texas is now 10-3 against Kansas State in home games.
— Sarkisian on the comeback: “As good as we were playing early, our own miscues and some forced by them allowed Kansas State to get back into the game. I think it tested us, tested our resiliency, tested our culture to stick together.”
— Texas (8-1, 5-1 in the Big 12) travels to Fort Worth to play TCU (4-5, 2-4) next Saturday. A kickoff time has yet to be announced.