Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive end Collin Oliver (30) puts pressure on Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) during a college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Texas Longhorns at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022. Oklahoma State won 41-34.

No. 7 Texas out to build resume, bag Big 12 title vs. No. 18 OK State

Texas doesn’t control its own destiny to qualify for the College Football Playoff.

But a win by the No. 7 Longhorns over No. 18 Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday in Arlington, Texas, would keep their hopes alive to make the four-team field for the first time.

Texas enters the game as the third one-loss team in the rankings, behind No. 5 Oregon and No. 6 Ohio State.

Ohio State is not playing in a conference title game while Oregon takes on No. 3 Washington for the Pac-12 title.

“I don’t know why I wouldn’t think we’re a College Football Playoff contender,” Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian said. “We’ll talk more about that I’m sure after the game Saturday, but we’re in great position. But I also know we’ve got to take care of business. There is no College Football Playoff talk if we don’t play really good Saturday trying to find a way to win. And if that happens, then there’s another discussion to be had.”

The Longhorns and Cowboys didn’t play this season, but Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy knows what to expect from Texas’ big defensive line duo of T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy II.

“Texas has always had that,” Gundy said. “We’ve played them for years. They’ve got ends that are 30 pounds heavier than most people’s ends and they’ve got inside guys that are 20 pounds heavier than most people’s inside guys.”

So how do they attack the Longhorns?

“We can double them some,” Gundy said. “You let the widest guy go and double team (the other) and let that guy try to run and make a tackle.”

Since losing to Oklahoma on Oct. 7, the Longhorns won six consecutive games. Texas (11-1) secured its berth in the title game, its first since 2018, with a 57-7 win over Texas Tech last week.

The Cowboys (9-3) have won seven of their last eight after a 2-2 start.

They’re powered by running back Ollie Gordon, who did things this season — ran for 250-plus yards in consecutive games and scored five rushing TDs in a game — not done at Oklahoma State since Barry Sanders. Gordon leads the nation in rushing yards with 1,580.

“They have done a great job offensively of leaning into him,” Sarkisian said. “He really signifies who their team is. I feel like he gets stronger as the game goes on, like a lot of big, physical backs do. A lot of his best runs come in the second half when teams wear down.”

Oklahoma State had to scratch and claw to make its second-ever Big 12 title game.

The Cowboys outscored their last two opponents 58-17 after halftime after being outscored 47-25 in the first halves of eventual wins over Houston and BYU.

The Cowboys also made the title game in 2021, when they lost to Baylor. Oklahoma State is in the title game for just the second time.

Texas is looking for its first Big 12 Championship Game win since 2009. The Longhorns are 3-3 all-time in the game, which resumed in 2017 after a six-year absence.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Keilan Robinson (7) runs for a touchdown while defended by Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back Bralyn Lux (12) during the first half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Texas romps past Texas Tech into Big 12 title game

Jaydon Blue ran for 121 yards and a touchdown and Keilan Robinson scored on a 10-yard run and a 95-yard kickoff return as No. 7 Texas produced a statement with a 57-7 victory over Texas Tech on Friday in Austin, Texas, in the teams’ final Big 12 Conference regular-season game.

The Longhorns (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) won their sixth straight contest and clinched a spot in the Big 12 Conference championship game against either No. 13 Oklahoma or No. 20 Oklahoma State.

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers passed for 196 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Jett Bush returned a deflected interception 43 yards for another score, and Burt Auburn kicked five field goals for the Longhorns in the win that featured the much anticipated debut of freshman quarterback Arch Manning late in the third quarter.

The Longhorns’ defense did the rest, holding Texas Tech (6-6, 5-4) to just 198 total yards. Behren Morton passed for 88 yards and Tahj Brooks had 95 yards on 19 carries for the Red Raiders.

Texas scored on its first possession, marching 56 yards in seven plays to a 10-yard TD run by Robinson. The Longhorns added to their lead on Auburn’s 34-yard field goal with 2:15 to play in the first quarter.

Texas Tech found the end zone on Morton’s 2-yard keeper around left end with 29 seconds to play in the first quarter. Blue ripped off a 69-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter to push the Texas’ lead to 17-7.

Auburn added his second field goal, this one from 37 yards away with 10:07 to play in the second quarter, after Michael Taaffe blocked a punt. Auburn was good again on a 26-yarder with 2:55 to play in the second quarter and added a 44-yard field goal on the final snap of the half to build Texas’ lead to 26-7 at the break.

Robinson opened the third quarter with his kickoff return touchdown that blew open the game. Auburn booted a career-long 54-yard field goal with 9:15 to play in the third quarter to make it 36-7.

An Ewers-to-Xavier Worthy 19-yard TD pass with 4:44 to play in the third quarter pushed the Texas advantage to 43-7. Bush then snatched a pass out of the air that hit Brooks in the foot and rumbled for a score. Quintrevion Wisner added a 10-yard TD run with 38 seconds left to cap the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Ames, Iowa, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian and linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. (0) hold up the sign of the horns after their win over the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech looks to derail No. 7 Texas’ Big 12 title plans

No. 7 Texas can take another step toward a College Football Playoff berth when it hosts dangerous Texas Tech on Friday in a Big 12 Conference regular-season finale in Austin.

The Longhorns (10-1, 7-1) control their destiny for a spot in the Big 12 championship game — win and they’re going to Arlington Dec. 2. They can still get into the game with a loss via a series of tiebreakers, but coach Steve Sarkisian said his team is determined to take care of its business.

“This is on us,” Sarkisian said Monday. “Let’s go handle our business the way we know how to do it. It’s a tall task. It’s going to be a tough game Friday but at the end, let’s not leave it up to somebody else. Let’s do it our way and the way I know we’re capable of doing.”

The Longhorns have won five straight games since their last-second, 34-30 loss to then-No. 12 Oklahoma Oct. 7 in Dallas.

Texas is coming off a 26-16 win last Saturday at gritty Iowa State as Quinn Ewers passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns and CJ Baxter ran for 117 yards to help the Longhorns overcome a slew of mistakes.

Ewers, still not at 100 percent after suffering a shoulder injury last month, completed 23 of 33 pass attempts and Xavier Worthy caught four of his throws for 77 yards. Baxter, drawing his third start of the year and taking over for the injured Jonathon Brooks, had his first collegiate 100-yard rushing game.

Texas outgained Iowa State 404-332 and held the Cyclones to just nine yards rushing on 21 carries.

The Longhorns’ 10 wins in 11 games are their best start since 2009, when they went undefeated before losing to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game.

Texas Tech (6-5, 5-3) heads to Austin for the last scheduled meeting in the storied rivalry.

The Red Raiders are coming off their third straight win, edging UCF 24-23 at home last Saturday. Tahj Brooks carried the load, amassing a career-high 182 yards on 24 carries and a TD, with 110 of those yards coming after halftime.

They closed the game by running 11 times, eight of them by Brooks for 34 yards, to run off the final 5 1/2 minutes. Brooks has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight of Texas Tech’s last nine games.

“(The win over UCF) was a big part of continuing to build this program, having this mindset of what’s next and where can we go,” Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire said.

Texas Tech has clinched a bowl game for the second straight year by winning its past three contests by a combined 11 points.

The Red Raiders are dead set on delivering a final blow against Texas as the Longhorns depart for the Southeastern Conference after this season.

“Starting off 1-3, nobody in America would have thought we would be bowl eligible,” Tech safety C.J. Baskerville said. “For us to play the way that we have… and still be bowl eligible and now have a winning record in the Big 12 no matter how we finish, it’s a big deal.”

The Longhorns have a 54-18 advantage over Texas Tech in the all-time. The Red Raiders won 37-34 in overtime in Lubbock last season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian kneels on the sideline during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY Sports

Texas’ Steve Sarkisian: Helmet radios would end signal-stealing drama

There is a simple and relatively benign solution to college football’s sign-stealing drama if you are willing to listen to Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian make the argument for technology in players’ headgear.

“Everybody write an article about why doesn’t college football have coach-to-player communication so I don’t have to deal with sign-stealing,” Sarkisian said to reporters Thursday. “I spend half of my week changing signals and signs rather than coaching football. So please, write an article.”

Sarkisian has a background in the NFL and is the primary play-caller for the Longhorns, much like previous stints at Alabama and Southern California.

“It all just makes sense. It all makes sense to me,” Sarkisian said. “There’s no shortage of money in college football, clearly. The whole idea that it’s a competitive disadvantage for those (universities) that can’t do it, or that stadiums aren’t equipped to have that type of technology, I don’t buy it. I don’t understand it.”

Most stadiums already are outfitted with newer advanced communication technology to be in compliance with real-time statistics and data gathering for game broadcasts and other uses.

NFL coaches call in offensive and defensive plays using a microphone headset with one-way communication to individual players on the field. In some situations, signals are used to change plays or communicate when technology doesn’t cooperate.

College football’s blaring headline since midseason has surrounded an alleged plot at Michigan in which low-level assistants or others loosely connected to the program attended games of future opponents to study sideline communication and signals to their players on the field.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is currently suspended for from coaching on game days for the rest of the regular season by the Big Ten, pending a court hearing Friday that could restore his sideline access.

The news around the undefeated Wolverines has dominated coverage of the sport from coast-to-coast.

“The fact that every time I turn on anything late at night and they’re talking about college football, if not the first topic, the second topic is we’re talking about sign-stealing,” Sarkisian said. “Our game is way too good. There’s too many good stories going on right now in college football that that’s at the forefront of what we’re doing.

“It should be at the forefront because I think what was going on (at Michigan) was wrong. But at the end of the day, that shouldn’t be at the forefront. … We’re talking about sign-stealing? Like, let’s just fix the problem. Let’s get player-to-coach communication and move forward.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) warms up before competing against TCU Horned Frogs in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, November. 11, 2023, at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Texas seeks stronger finish at Iowa State

No. 7 Texas will look to remain atop the Big 12 Conference standings and build on a four-game winning streak when it travels to play talented and dangerous Iowa State on Saturday night in Ames, Iowa.

This will be the Longhorns’ final road game as a member of the Big 12 as Texas (and Oklahoma) move to the Southeastern Conference in 2024. Prior to the season, the Longhorns’ stated goal was to win the league title on their way out, and a win over the Cyclones would get them closer to achieving that goal.

The Longhorns (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) are alone atop the league standings with two regular-season games to play. Texas’ 9-1 start is the best for the program since 2009 and the Longhorns stayed at No. 7 in the CFP rankings for the third straight week.

Texas is back on the road after surviving 29-26 at TCU on Nov. 11. The Longhorns rolled to a 26-6 halftime lead but had to produce a goal-line stand and then convert a final third-and-12 situation to run out the clock.

Quinn Ewers passed for 317 yards and a score and Jonathon Brooks tallied 178 yards from scrimmage (104 on the ground) and two scores before being forced from the game with a right knee injury early in the fourth quarter. The school announced Sunday that Brooks is for the season with an ACL injury.

In the past two games, Texas has been outscored 36-6 in the fourth quarter as Kansas State scored 16 in the final 15 minutes to force overtime and TCU put up 20 points in failing just short.

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian called the performance “out of character.”

“We have to do a better job of keeping our mental intensity, our focus, and continuing to play the brand and style of football that got us that lead,” Sarkisian said. “For a team that has been so good in the fourth quarter all year, I would say it is out of character and unacceptable.”

Iowa State heads home after a dominating 45-13 win at BYU on Nov. 11. Rocco Becht passed for 203 yards with two touchdowns to Jaylin Noel (98 yards receiving), and Abu Sama III rushed for 110 yards and two scores as the Cyclones became bowl eligible. Iowa State led 31-7 at halftime, amassed 443 yards of total offense and didn’t turn the ball over.

After a difficult 2-3 start that included a loss to Ohio, Iowa State is 4-1 with a close loss to Kansas as the only blemish. The Cyclones (6-4, 5-2) find themselves in a four-way tie for second place in the league and can take a big step toward playing in the Big 12 championship game with a victory over Texas.

“What a great challenge for our young team to step into an arena with this kind of football team,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “We’ll have to have a great team game plan in order to win the football game. Our focus has been that we want to play meaningful football in November.”

Iowa State has won three of the past four games with the Longhorns, who have not won in Ames since 2017.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) in action during the game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Texas Longhorns at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: QB Quinn Ewers could put off draft, return to Texas

Quarterback Quinn Ewers strongly is considering a return to Texas next season, despite being NFL draft-eligible, according to a report from Inside Texas on Tuesday.

The Longhorns-focused website put the likelihood of Ewers playing a third season in Austin at 90 percent.

ESPN, however, reported that Ewers has yet to choose between the draft and Longhorns, stating there have been discussions about a return to Texas but “there’s a long way to go.”

Ewers, a Texas native, redshirted his freshman season at Ohio State and transferred to Texas before the 2022 season. Injuries limited him to 10 games last season.

He missed two games this season with a shoulder strain. Through eight games, Ewers is 173-of-246 passing (70.3 percent) for 2,232 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has rushed for 53 yards and five scores.

In his injury absence, redshirt freshman Maalik Murphy started in wins over BYU and Kansas State. Freshman Arch Manning, a five-star prospect and nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, has yet to appear in a game for the Longhorns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Jonathon Brooks (24) is brought down by TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Josh Newton (3) during the game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY Sports

Texas star RB Jonathon Brooks (knee) done for season

Texas star running back Jonathon Brooks will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee during Saturday’s 29-26 victory over TCU at Fort Worth, Texas.

Brooks was injured while being tacked in the fourth quarter of the contest. He will soon undergo surgery.

“We’re heartbroken for Jonathon,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said Sunday via statement. “He was having a fantastic season and leaves a void that needs to be filled. But we know he will continue to be an invaluable leader on our team, helping us prepare as we move forward in our mission this season.

“I know he’ll work extremely hard in his recovery, get back to full speed as soon as he can, and we will be there by his side supporting him through all of that.”

Brooks rushed for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games this season. His rushing yardage ranks sixth nationally. Brooks also caught 25 passes for 286 yards and one score.

Brooks rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 74 yards against TCU prior to the injury. It was his sixth 100-yard outing of the season.

Brooks played sparingly his first two seasons at Texas. One reason was the presence of Bijan Robinson, who won the Doak Walker Award last season as the nation’s top running back.

Robinson was the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Meanwhile, Brooks was viewed as the top NFL running back prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft.

How the injury impacts his draft status — he could choose to remain at Texas — remains to be seen.

CJ Baxter is the Longhorns’ second-leading rusher with 390 yards.

Texas (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) visits Iowa State on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) makes a catch for a touchdown during the game against Texas Christian University at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas.

No. 7 Texas withstands late charge from TCU

Quinn Ewers passed for 317 yards and a touchdown and Jonathon Brooks amassed 178 all-purpose yards and two TDs as No. 7 Texas dominated the first half and then held on for a 29-26 win over TCU on Saturday in a key Big 12 Conference game in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Longhorns (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) are now alone atop the conference standings with two regular-season games to play.

Texas led by 20 at the half but sputtered thereafter. The Horned Frogs made things interesting in the fourth quarter when Josh Hoover hit JP Richardson with a 3-yard TD pass and then Savion Williams from 14 yards out, the latter with 3:28 to play.

It took a sterling catch on his back from the Longhorns’ Adonai Mitchell on a third down during the final drive to secure the win for Texas.

Ewers, returning from a two-game absence because of a right shoulder injury, completed 22 of 33 passes. Brooks had 104 yards rushing and 74 yards receiving before being forced from the game with a right ankle injury early in the fourth quarter. Xavier Worthy caught 10 passes for 137 yards.

Hoover passed for 302 yards in the loss. Emani Bailey ran for 98 yards and Williams caught 11 passes for 164 yards for TCU (4-6, 2-5) in the loss.

The Horned Frogs got on the board first via a 41-yard field goal by Griffin Kell midway through the first quarter. Texas responded when Brooks strolled into the end zone from 2 yards out to make it 7-3 after he got loose on a 73-yard screen pass catch and run on the first play of the drive.

Kell’s second field goal — this one from 56 yards — cut the Longhorns’ lead to 7-6 with 4:35 to play in the first quarter. Texas answered with a 30-yard field goal on the second snap of the second quarter by Bert Auburn to go up 10-6.

Auburn pushed the Longhorns’ advantage to 13-6 with a 32-yard kick with 8:32 to play in the second quarter. Ewers hit Mitchell with a 6-yard TD to expand Texas’ lead to 19-6 with 1:01 to play before halftime.

After an interception by Terrance Brooks, Jonathon Brooks ran to the pylon for a 22-yard TD with 12 seconds left that stoked the Texas lead to 26-6 at the break.

TCU got into the end zone on a 17-yard run by Bailey with 14:02 to play to cut its deficit to 26-13. Auburn’s 49-yard field goal with 8:53 capped a 10-play, 44-yard drive and expanded the Longhorns’ lead to 29-13.

–Field Level Media

Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian celebrates a score against Kansas State Wildcats in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, November. 4, 2023, in Austin, Texas. Texas Longhorns beat Kansas State Wildcats 33-30 in overtime.

Can No. 7 Texas maintain playoff push against TCU?

No. 7 Texas faces another stern test in its pursuit of a conference championship and keeping its College Football Playoff chances alive when it squares off against upset-minded TCU on Saturday in a key Big 12 Conference dustup in Fort Worth, Texas.

It’s the final scheduled meeting between the longtime rivals, as Texas (8-1, 5-1) will move to the Southeastern Conference in 2024. The Horned Frogs (4-5, 2-4), who played in the CFP championship game last season but have struggled to find consistency this year, would like nothing more than to damage Texas’ hopes of reaching the playoffs.

The Longhorns head north after a thrilling 33-30 overtime win at home over then-No. 23 Kansas State last Saturday to win their third consecutive game and remain tied atop the conference standings.

Bert Auburn’s final of his four field goals, a 42-yarder, produced the deciding points and Texas’ defense stopped Kansas State on fourth down from the UT 4-yard line on its possession in the extra period to clinch the victory.

Maalik Murphy passed for a career-high 248 yards and a touchdown to Adonai Mitchell in his second start but also was intercepted twice. Jonathon Brooks ran for 112 yards and a score for the Longhorns, eclipsing 1,000 yards for the season. CJ Baxter added 90 yards that included a 54-yard TD run for Texas.

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian likes where his team is at right now and will prepare the Longhorns for the challenges that will come against the Horned Frogs.

“I know it’s been a long time coming to be in this position in November,” Sarkisian explained. “You have visions of how you want your job to go and a program to go when you take over something. For us to be in this situation … that’s what it’s all about. It’s critical that we have great poise and composure when we go into these environments on the road.”

Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers could play this week after missing the past two games with a right (throwing) shoulder sprain. Sarkisian said Ewers is throwing and listed him as day to day.

TCU returns home after a 35-28 loss at Texas Tech last Thursday and gets an eight-day period to prepare for the Longhorns. The Horned Frogs have dropped two straight.

TCU’s offense came alive to help the Horned Frogs scramble back into the game after trailing the Red Raiders 20-7 at halftime. TCU led 21-20 in the third quarter before falling behind for good. Josh Hoover passed for 353 yards, most of that in the second half on three long scoring drives, and Emani Bailey ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns for TCU.

Bailey has 908 rushing yards on the season to lead the Horned Frogs.

“We’ve got to get our guys to play good,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “Our best players are not playing very well and guys that are good players that have played well for us in the past are not playing particularly well.”

Hoover is set to start again for TCU but Chandler Morris, who’s been out since the third quarter of the Horned Frogs’ loss at Iowa State on Oct. 7, is closer to returning. “(Morris) is still a little banged up — none of us were really comfortable playing him (against Texas Tech),” Dykes said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA;  Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) attempts a pass during the third quarter against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Texas QB Quinn Ewers (shoulder) upgraded to ‘day-to-day’

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers is progressing from an injury to his throwing shoulder and was labeled “day-to-day” Monday by Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian.

Ewers missed the past two games due to the injury to his right shoulder and he began throwing the football late last week. Sarkisian said he did more throwing on Monday.

“It’s more day-to-day,” Sarkisian told reporters. “Ultimately, this is a ‘How does he feel?’” Sarkisian said.

Ewers sprained the shoulder against Houston on Oct. 21. He has completed 70.9 percent of his passes for 1,915 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions this season for Texas (8-1, 5-1 Big 12).

Redshirt freshman Maalik Murphy started at quarterback the past two games and guided the Longhorns to victories over BYU and Kansas State. Murphy passed for 418 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in the two starts.

Murphy will start again Saturday at TCU if Ewers isn’t ready to play.

–Field Level Media