In most important half of the season, Texas’ offense fell apart again

Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporter

As the Longhorns trod into the locker room with a 17-13 halftime lead against Oklahoma State, they had to have known how important the second half would be for the trajectory of the rest of their season.

Come out firing like in the first quarter and No. 25 Texas would pick up a win against the No. 12 team in the country, move to 5-2 overall, take second place in the Big 12 and keep hopes alive for a potential Big 12 title run.

Falter like in the second half against Oklahoma and Texas would be 4-3 with its second conference loss and likely out of the Big 12 title race. Head coach Steve Sarkisian’s first year would be the same old, same old for Texas.

Rather than take a stranglehold on the game in the second half, the game unfolded in much the same fashion it had in the first two quarters. Last week’s second-half offensive woes continued again Saturday, ultimately leading to a 32-24 defeat to the Cowboys.

“For us as a team, to go where we want to go, we can’t just hold on,” Sarkisian said. “Right now, we’re in a space where we get a lead, something doesn’t go our way and we harbor a little bit of the negative thoughts, and ultimately those negative thoughts creep into cautious play, uncertainty and ultimately errors.”

At the changeover into the fourth quarter, the Texas offense managed three straight three-and-outs totaling a combined 8 yards, allowing Oklahoma State to get right back into the game. A 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Spencer Sanders to wide receiver Brennan Presley brought the Cowboys within two points with 10:16 remaining in the game.

Then Texas’ offense hit a new low. After the Cowboys took their first lead of the game off a 29-yard field goal, junior quarterback Casey Thompson and crew were shut down again, turning the ball back over to Oklahoma State on a failed fourth-down conversion attempt.

A few plays later, Sanders ran into the end zone untouched, extending Oklahoma State’s lead to eight points with 2:18 left in the game. With one final shot at redemption and a tied game, Thompson was intercepted on a pass intended for freshman Xavier Worthy.

With that, another brutal, heartbreaking second-half collapse was complete. Oklahoma State would walk out of Austin with its record remaining unblemished. Texas would sulk back into the locker room with its third loss of the season.

“I’m surprised,” sophomore running back Bijan Robinson said. “We came out with a different focus to finish this game and then we started seeing big plays happen.”

After two straight second-half collapses, the Longhorns appear to be in a mental rut. Their inability to set aside costly mistakes, whether it be penalties, dropped snaps or missed assignments has reared its ugly head once more.

In all, the Longhorns finished with nine penalties, including two crucial personal fouls that extended Oklahoma State’s drives. The loss clearly weighed heavily on Robinson, who fought back tears talking with the media after the game.

As the face of the new era of Texas football, Robinson challenged himself to become a more vocal leader on the sidelines going forward. With the bye week next week, he stressed the importance of working on staying positive at all times, even when things spiral like they did today.

“We can’t look at the scoreboard,” Robinson said. “We just need to understand that we just need to keep executing (and) understand what our job is, our focus is.”