For another year, the "Texas is/isn't back" jokes can continue.
The No. 9 Longhorns saw their chances of beating TCU fumbled away -- literally -- at the 1-yard line in a 33-31 loss at home. A Keaontay Ingram turnover with about 2:30 left in the game halted a likely go-ahead scoring drive for the Horns in a tight, but sloppy Big 12 battle. The upset comes one week after Texas needed a late rally and overtime to beat Texas Tech 63-56 on the road.
It's a loss that has a similar sting for Texas. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Longhorns have now lost six games as an AP Top 25 team against unranked opponents since coach Tom Herman took over in 2017. Additionally, Frogs coach Gary Patterson has won seven of nine matchups against the Horns since joining the Big 12.
Remember: Herman turned over his coaching staff this past offseason to get the Longhorns to the next level. Yet, Texas trailed for most of this game. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger wasn't his normal self and, until the fourth quarter, the running game really wasn't a big part of the offense.
Still, this game was never over until it was actually over. Before Ingram's turnover, it looked like TCU might suffer a late collapse. Texas was driving and TCU had settled for four field goals in the second and third quarters instead of punching in touchdowns. But this was a game of mistakes and Texas made one or two more than they could afford. Herman insisted afterwards that those mistakes can be fixed, but this has been a trend among a lot of teams this season -- and probably will continue.
Herman: "I’m very confident that we can get our problems fixed."— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) October 3, 2020
Let's dive into more about those mistakes along with the other takeaways from today's game.
The penalties were atrocious on both sides
The NCAA record for most combined penalties in a game is 36. The Frogs and Longhorns got to 26. That's well below the record, but nothing to be happy about. TCU had 14 penalties for 109 yards while Texas had 12 flags for 92 yards. There were also three turnovers, two for Texas. You don't want to put the entire loss on Ingram's shoulders, but that fumble at the goal line hurts the most.
Still, neither coach is going to be happy about the overall sloppiness of this game. Pre-snap/procedural and technical penalties in bunches are a result of these programs not having a full spring practice and a disrupted offseason. It's happening everywhere in college football but, for whatever reason, it really showed up today. The officiating wasn't sharp, either, but it's not like they were throwing completely baseless flags all the time. This was a bad effort all around.
Duggan could be a superstar
Though Texas was a 13-point favorite coming into Saturday, there were certainly questions about its defense and whether it would be able to contain TCU quarterback Max Duggan.
The answer? Not really. Duggan, in his first start of the season after being sidelined for much of preseason camp with a heart condition, had 310 yards of total offense and two rushing touchdowns. His second was a perfectly designed quarterback draw up the middle, and yeah, he had all kinds of open space to run.
Texas also didn't have an answer for the Frogs wide receiver corps, with Quentin Johnston and Taye Barber slicing through the second and third layers of the defense for a combined 10 catches for 121 yards. Even though Duggan didn't throw for a touchdown pass, this group was awfully dangerous. Duggan looks like a far improved player passing the ball from a year ago and he obviously still has the legs to get it done, too.
Ehlinger had a weird day
Texas' offense never found the same success throughout the game that it did against the Red Raiders. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger had one of his weirder career performances, going 17-of-36 passing for 236 yards, four touchdowns and a pick. He didn't play as terribly as the stat line suggested. His interception was a result of a miscommunication on a route and there were some drops that have to be accounted for. Though Ehlinger did throw some nice passes, the problem was that those connections weren't there all day.
The Longhorns have a star in Joseph Ossai
Even though Texas' defense gave up some big plays, Ossai was a disruptive force coming off the edge. He finished the game with seven tackles, three tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. The Longhorns could have capitalized on the fumble and turned it into a touchdown, but Ossai certainly put them in a position to do so. He's an athletic freak who can sort of be a jack of all trades for this defense. This will not be the last tight, potentially high scoring game Texas plays in this year. Even though the Horns didn't come away with the win, Ossai is the kind of game-changer on defense that can alter the result the next time.