No. 7 Texas nearly saw its national championship hopes disappear thanks to a second-half collapse at home against No. 23 Kansas State. Instead, the Longhorns eked out a too-close-for-comfort 33-30 win in overtime that will both keep their College Football Playoff and Big 12 title dreams alive for another week.
Texas dominated the first three quarters and had a 27-7 lead with 4:13 remaining in the third. That’s when the self-destruction began.
In the span of 2:13, Texas allowed Kansas State to score three touchdowns and that 20-point lead turned into a 27-27 tie.
Texas then retook the lead with a field goal with 6:03 to play, but Kansas State sent the game to overtime when Chris Tennant booted a 45-yard field goal in the final seconds of regulation.
Once the extra session began, the Texas offense stalled and had to settle for a field goal, opening the door for Kansas State to win the game with a touchdown. Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman kept his offense on the field on fourth-and-goal from the Texas 4-yard line, and the Longhorns got pressure on K-State quarterback Will Howard, forcing an incompletion.
With that defensive stand, Texas was finally able to exhale and improve its record to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in Big 12 play.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 4, 2023
Texas blew a 27-7 lead with self-inflicted mistakes
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian would tell you it should not have come down to a fourth-down stop in overtime. Texas thoroughly dominated Kansas State through the first three quarters. The Longhorns outgained Kansas State 307 yards to 106 at halftime and looked to be in complete control when its lead was 27-7 in the waning minutes of the third quarter.
But the Longhorns imploded, allowing Kansas State to storm back and tie the score less than three minutes into the fourth quarter.
The barrage from Kansas State started when the Wildcats put together their best drive of the day, marching 75 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 26-yard Howard touchdown pass to Philip Brooks on the final play of the third quarter.
From there, Texas handed the Kansas State offense very favorable field position with back-to-back turnovers. First, Maalik Murphy made an ill-advised decision by throwing across his body into traffic as K-State sniffed out the screen-pass call. The throw was picked off by Kansas State’s Jacob Parrish and returned to the 12.
Two plays later, Howard found Keagan Johnson for a 12-yard score to cut the Texas lead to 27-21.
And then on the second play of the next drive, star Texas running back Jonathon Brooks put the ball on the ground and the Wildcats recovered. On the very next play, Howard found Jayce Brown behind the defense for a 32-yard score.
Kansas State botched the ensuing extra point, however, so the game was tied at 27-27 with 12:37 to play.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 4, 2023
Murphy, starting his second game for the injured Quinn Ewers, was able to compose himself enough on the next drive to get the Longhorns deep into Kansas State territory. And his fourth-and-4 completion to Ja’Tavion Sanders set up the go-ahead 34-yard field goal from Bert Auburn.
The kick gave Texas a 30-27 lead with 6:03 to play, and it looked like it may prove to be the eventual winner when Kansas State's Tennant hooked a 27-yard chip shot with 1:45 to go. However, Kansas State quickly got the ball back and was able to get the game into overtime when Tennant got his redemption from 45 yards.
Texas was on the ropes in overtime, but the defense made the big play when it mattered. Klieman's fourth-down decision will be questioned as the Wildcats were well in position to send the game to double-overtime. But the Wildcats wanted the chance to pull off the upset right there.
It did not come to fruition, and Texas somehow was able to hang on.
What's next for Texas?
Texas has now won three consecutive games since it lost to Oklahoma on Oct. 7, and two of those came with starting quarterback Quinn Ewers sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Ewers was hurt in the Oct. 21 win over Houston and Murphy got his first start last week at home vs. an overmatched BYU team. Murphy struggled in that game as Sarkisian seemed to keep things simple on offense by leaning on the running game and short passes.
In this one, Murphy looked much better in the early going. He completed six of his first eight throws and delivered a beautiful 37-yard dime to Adonai Mitchell for the game's first touchdown. However, Murphy's play became shakier as the first half progressed. He threw one interception in the first half and narrowly avoided two others.
His interception in the second half was costly, and Murphy struggled with his accuracy. In all, he completed 19-of-37 passes for 248 yards while the Longhorns put up 230 yards on the ground. Murphy is just a redshirt freshman, but he is just nowhere near as poised as Ewers in this offense.
It's unclear when Ewers will return. The Longhorns will head to Fort Worth to play TCU next week before another road trip to Iowa State on Nov. 18. Texas will then close out the regular season at home vs. Texas Tech on Friday, Nov. 24.
If Texas wants to get to the College Football Playoff, there is no margin for error.