Highs and Lows: 2017 season highlights

Steve Helwick

Season highs

Attaining bowl eligibility over ranked opponent:

Despite entering Morgantown as underdogs, the Longhorns rolled over then No. 24 West Virginia in 28-14 fashion. Texas accomplished a myriad achievements with this upset victory. Most importantly, Texas will qualify for a bowl game for the first time since the 2014 season. Should the Longhorns beat Texas Tech this Saturday or win the bowl game, this victory over the Mountaineers sets Texas in perfect position to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2013. This road win also signified the first ranked victory of the Tom Herman era, after Herman fell to four other ranked teams by a combined margin of 28 points in his first season at the helm.

Edging out Kansas State in double overtime:

Texas and Kansas State are very similar programs, and this matchup is probably the most evenly-matched one the Big 12 has to offer. Both teams are sporting 6–5 records but always hang with tough competition and field impressive defenses. So, besting head coach Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in Austin was a significant morale booster for Texas at the dawn of conference play. Kansas State led 17-7 early but Texas managed to come back and lead by halftime. The teams traded scores until double overtime occurred, when the Texas defense pushed Kansas State back to the 36-yard line. Unable to recover, the Wildcats ceded a tough-fought, thrilling victory to Texas.

Season lows

Maryland’s offense dominates in Austin:

The Tom Herman era did not jump out to a promising start. In a battle of two 7-loss teams from 2016, the Maryland Terrapins invaded Austin and destroyed Texas’ defense, capturing a 51-41 triumph. Maryland, currently 4–7, accumulated 482 yards of total offense, forced two turnovers and even returned a blocked field goal to the house in an action-packed contest on opening weekend. Looking at the direction of the teams since, it’s shocking how outmatched the Longhorns appeared in this game. At one point, Texas trailed by as much as 27-7, and many fans at Darrell K Royal Stadium displayed their satisfaction when Maryland stalled the Longhorns’ near-comeback and left the venue with a double-digit victory.

Texas throws costly interception vs. Oklahoma State:

No. 10 Oklahoma State entered Austin as touchdown favorites, and the Cowboys looked poised to demolish Texas in the early going. Up 7-0 and in the red zone, Texas forced a key fumble and scored several plays later, thanks to a 90-yard reception by John Burt. After freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger ran in a touchdown with 13:59 remaining in the second quarter, no more touchdowns would be scored in the defensive skirmish that produced 20 punts. Tied 10-10, Texas opened overtime on defense, and the unit once again held firm and forced Oklahoma State to a field goal. With first down on the 12-yard line, Texas could not score the game-winning touchdown. But on third-and-6, Ehlinger lobbed the ball into the end zone to the Cowboys’ Ramon Richards — surrounded by nobody wearing burnt orange. Handed on a silver platter to Texas, a potential landmark victory was derailed by costly offensive miscues.