Red Raiders can't stop the Longhorn stampede
The look on Mack Brown's jubilant face said it all. Texas beat Texas Tech 31-22, and this victory becomes the most important win for the Texas Longhorns since the 2009 season ended.
Until Saturday, Texas lacked any signature, season-changing win. This is that win. Texas entered Lubbock as the underdog, and the team left a confident 7-2 with designs on a statement season after playing the most complete game in two years.
On defense, the physical, dominating defensive line was backed up by a locked-in secondary. On offense, the clock-churning, tough-as-nails offensive line protected a golden-armed quarterback and pushed around a top 20 defense.
On offense, the clock-churning, tough-as-nails offensive line protected a golden-armed quarterback and pushed around a top 20 defense.
This is the team Brown thought he had to start the season. In the most hostile of stadiums, the Texas Longhorns brought their A game and out-played a team that until now was clearly better.
The maligned Texas defense showed up for this one. The Longhorns gave up their share of yards to one of the most prolific offenses in college football, but they avoided giving up the big play. The defensive line that never saw a running back that didn't love them shut down the Red Raider running game, giving up only 112 yards.
Texas tackling was better — not great, but better. Most important, the Texas defense kept the Tech offense in front of them as evidenced by the goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
With Texas leading 31-22, Tech was first-and-goal at the 2-yard line. Not only did Texas keep Tech out of the end zone, but they also blocked the 23-yard field goal attempt that would have put Tech just one score away from a win.
Carrington Byndom played the best game of his career. Taking on Tech's best receiver Eric Ward, Byndom fought Ward on every play, nearly coming to blows on several.
Brown showed confidence in David Ash by letting the quarterback start the game after a terrible performance just one week before. Ash played well enough to win, making several outstanding deep throws without an interception.
The defensive line that never saw a running back that didn't love them shut down the Red Raider running game, giving up only 112 yards.
Texas' leading receiver, Mike Davis, has really come into his own. He caught four passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Davis is now a true deep threat, and Ash has the confidence to get the ball down field, hitting Davis in stride.
It was Texas' running game, though, that put this one away. In the fourth quarter, Texas Tech's defensive line grew weary, and the Longhorn offensive line pushed them all over the field.
Johnathan Gray is special. Texas' true freshman running back will soon get national attention after collecting his second straight 100-yard game. Gray has a combination of speed and power, and he had the Texas Tech defense on their heels all afternoon.
It's impossible to overstate the importance of this win to a Longhorn football program that has been reeling since losing its star quarterback in the January 2010 National Championship game. After weeks of criticism and questions about Brown's job security, the Texas Longhorns decided to quiet the crowd with a win over a huge rival in hostile territory.
Mack Brown was on fire for this game. He got into the faces of his players and his coaches. He ran up and down the sideline. In the end, this coach under siege felt the weight of Longhorn nation lifted off his shoulders.
This Texas Longhorn football team may not be great, but they showed fans a glimpse of just how good they can be.