Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Hutch’s Huddle: Texas could be the only thing standing in its own way of championship promise

Lorianne Willett

The Texas Longhorns have now reached first place in the Big 12 standings. A conference championship title is well within reach, seeing that rival and former first place contender Oklahoma suffered an upset loss to Oklahoma State this past weekend. But after witnessing Texas’ own performance on Saturday against Kansas State, the Longhorns could be humbled by those hungry to just have a win against them. 

After Texas had allowed Kansas State its first touchdown in the second quarter, there was an abrupt shift in momentum, and the Wildcats saw an opportunity to break down a wobbly Longhorn defense. For being a then-No. 23 team, Kansas State was playing like it had everything to lose, while Texas receivers wouldn’t even hustle for a touchdown catch.

“Could we have found a way to play better at some key moments? Sure,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “But we played well enough at the most critical moments.” 

Even though Texas defenders did step up in times of need, completely blowing a 20-point lead and allowing 16 points in the fourth quarter alone could’ve been avoided in the first place. 

Second string quarterback Maalik Murphy had previously displayed his ability to take care of the ball against unranked opponent BYU, but faced a different set of adversities versus Kansas State. The Wildcats defense applied pressure on Murphy, which contributed to his 51% pass completion rate and two interceptions. Despite throwing his longest touchdown pass of the season at 37 yards, Murphy trailed Kansas State quarterback Will Howard by 80 yards in total passing statistics, with Howard throwing four touchdown passes in comparison to Murphy’s one. 

Texas has managed to finish its games fairly well throughout the season, with and without Quinn Ewers, as Sarkisian has harped on that statement numerous times, but recently, the Longhorns have found it challenging to finish what they started. Their matchup against Kansas State marked the third time that fans have seen doubt in Texas’ ability to shut out its opponent during the second half, with struggles against Oklahoma and Houston raising uncertainty. 

With a Big 12 Championship appearance in the works, Texas must enter its final three matchups with the confidence and desire to make it to Arlington in December. The current next best team for the title just shot up to No. 15 in the AP polls after going the entire season unranked, as Oklahoma State has been a recent topic of interest in the Big 12 Championship discussion.

When asked about the team’s standing in a post-game interview, now that Oklahoma State sits directly under Texas and sits at an equivalent 5–1 in conference play, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy refused to discuss the topic because he “didn’t want to jinx” himself or his team.

The Cowboys’ remaining schedule could pose some troubles, but will ultimately be an indicator as to whether or not the Longhorns can expect to see them in the championship. Oklahoma State will play UCF, Houston and BYU to cap off the regular season and hope to extend the five-game winning streak that it’s been riding. 

Although Gundy has been equally as pleasantly surprised as the rest of the Pokes fanbase with Oklahoma State’s success recently, he said that his players have earned what’s been given. 

“If you’re willing to grind and practice hard because there is no substitute for hard work, good things will happen to you, and fortunately, they started to,” Gundy said. “Now you have enthusiasm and you have success, which are contagious.”

Texas might need to take notes here if it wants to live up to the high expectations of being a potential Big 12 champion, as nothing is solidified until the Longhorns can prove themselves as a dominant, aggressive opponent in the last few weeks they have.   

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About the Contributors
Emma Hutchinson, Senior Sports Reporter
Emma is a journalism sophomore from Prosper, Texas and is probably watching Dallas Mavericks highlights as you read this. She currently works on the women’s basketball beat as a senior reporter, but has previously reported on men’s swim and dive and softball. In addition to watching the Mavericks, she enjoys spending her free time with the people she loves most, usually by grabbing some coffee or boba with them.
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.