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Longhorns get contributions all over to top old Big 12 rival Missouri in the Texas Bowl

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Michael Dickson may not be in the same conversation as Vince Young when it comes to heroic performances in the annals of Texas football but he certainly was — no joke — operating at the same level on Wednesday night. The NFL-bound punter and Ray Guy Award winner put on a special teams masterclass to help the Longhorns (7-6) beat old Big 12 rival Missouri (7-6) in the Texas Bowl 33-16 and cap off the first season of the Tom Herman era with a victory.

Hard as it is to believe, Dickson was a well deserved MVP even if the other two phases of the game also played a big role in delivering Texas their first winning season since 2013. He punted 11 times in the game for nearly 500 yards but most impressively nailed 10 of those punts inside the Missouri 20 yard line.

That backed the Tigers up on a consistent basis and played a huge role in the team’s average starting field position being their own 16 yard line.

Of course it didn’t help that they couldn’t get much going offensively as quarterback Drew Lock came back down to Earth after a hot second half of the season and threw for only 269 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Some of his performance could be attributed to offensive coordinator Josh Heupel departing early in bowl preparations to take the UCF job but it was still a pretty rough outing after the team entered the game as one of the most high-powered attacks in the SEC.

The Longhorns offense wasn’t a world-beater themselves but they had their moments after an inconsistent 2017 campaign. Freshman Sam Ehllinger had a nice game to send him into the offseason with momentum by going 11-of-15 for 112 yards in the air with a touchdown and 17 yards rushing. Fellow signal-caller Shane Buechele was also part of the rotation behind center and threw a touchdown to kick off scoring in the first quarter.

Freshman tailback Daniel Young was the star of the show however and took full advantage of transfers, injuries and suspensions at the position to post a breakout performance. He led the team with 48 yards rushing and led the Horns in receiving as well, hauling in three passes for 64 yards and a wide-open touchdown.

Not to be out done, Todd Orlando’s defense also showed why they were one of the better units in the country this season and proved to be more than capable of replacing a few stars with star defensive back DeShon Elliott off to the NFL and linebacker Malik Jefferson unable to play due to injury. Anthony Wheeler scored Texas’ eighth non-offensive touchdown of the year (most in the FBS) when he recovered a fumble and rumbled 38 yards to the house to help break things open in the second quarter. Corner Davante Davis didn’t wind up in the end zone but may have been more productive with six tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.

While the loss isn’t what Missouri was looking for against their old conference rival, it was still a heck of a turnaround for the Tigers to even play in the game after the start they had, much less to capture seven wins. A lot of eyes will be on Barry Odom over the next few weeks though as he has some big decisions ahead when it comes to his coaching staff and particularly with a pair of new coordinators.

As far as the Longhorns go it was a nice way to close out the beginning of the Herman era on the 40 Acres even if the year overall is a bit of a disappointment given the expectations in Austin. A bowl victory, a winning season, a top three recruiting class and the bulk of the team returning for 2018 is a nice way to transition into Year 2 however and could just what Texas needs to get back on track after a few years in the college football desert.

Texas rolling on both sides of the ball against Missouri in the Texas Bowl

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The last time Texas appeared in the Texas Bowl, things didn’t go well at all for the Longhorns.

Three years and a new coaching staff later, there’s a much different story to tell as the Burnt Orange took a 21-7 lead over old Big 12 rival Missouri going into halftime on Wednesday night.

In contrast to a few of the team’s games during the regular season, Texas head coach Tom Herman got plenty of production out of both sides of the ball. Offensively the team went with Shane Buechele as the starter at quarterback but both he and backup Sam Ehlinger found success against the Tigers defense. The two combined for 117 yards and a touchdown pass each, the first coming from Buechele to a wide open Daniel Young out of the backfield for a 22 yard score. Ehlinger didn’t have things quite as easy as that but did find John Burt from seven yards out as the wideout made a great catch to get six.

Young also added XX yards on the ground as the featured back.

The Longhorns defense also came to play despite being without a host of starters. Linebacker Anthony Wheeler recovered a fumble and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead in the second quarter and Davante Davis also forced another fumble to cap off another stand for Todd Orlando’s unit. Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson showed why he was the best punter in college football with seven punts and six of them landing inside the opposing 20.

Mizzou looked like they were without offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who was not with the team for the game after taking the UCF head coaching position. The Tigers started the game with three 3-and-outs and had five overall in the half — failing to record a first down until just before the start of the second quarter. Running back Ish Witter did run for 44 yards and a touchdown but fumbled, and quarterback Drew Lock didn’t look anything like the record-setter he was during the regular season with just 91 yards passing.

There’s still plenty of time left for both teams in the Texas Bowl but it’s pretty clear that the former Big 12 team has a little more work cut out for them than the current one.

Second-leading receiver among three Texas players suspended for bowl game

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Even as it seems like it of late, bowl suspensions aren’t just limited to Notre Dame.

Texas announced Friday afternoon that three players, running back Toniel Carter, tight end Garrett Gray and wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey, have all been suspended for the Dec. 27 Texas Bowl matchup with Missouri.  Other than unspecified violations of team rules, no specific reason was given for the suspensions.

Humphrey is the most notable name amongst the suspended trio.

In the regular season, Humphrey was second on the Longhorns in receptions with 37 and yards with 431.  He also added another touchdown — and 41 yards on six carries — on the ground.

Given Chris Warren‘s decision to transfer, Carter’s absence will also be more than a bit of a loss as his 252 yards are good for fourth on the team.  Warren’s 314 yards, meanwhile, are third.

Gray has caught four passes for 18 yards this season.

Mississippi State adding more coaches to staff, including Mark Hudspeth

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Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead is busy assembling his staff in Starkville this week. On top of adding a defensive coordinator with SEC coaching experience, Moorhead could also be adding an offensive line coach with ACC coaching experience. He will also reportedly offer a coaching job to former Louisiana-Lafeyette head coach Mark Hudspeth.

According to a report from Football Scoop, Hudspeth will be joining the Mississippi State coaching staff as a tight ends coach. This will be a homecoming of sorts for Hudspeth. Hudspeth previously spent time on the Mississippi State coaching staff form 2009 through 2010 prior to becoming the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. His addition to the staff should be a welcome one as Moorhead continues to add quality assistants to his growing football staff in Starkville.

According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Duke offensive line coach Marcus Johnson could be the latest addition to the coaching staff at Mississippi State.

This is a particularly interesting hire, because Johnson is an alum of Ole Miss (Class of 2004). The former NFL lineman joined the Duke coaching staff in 2011 and has held multiple positions on the football staff over the years under David Cutcliffe. Duke’s offensive line play may not have ever been among the best in the ACC, but Johnson was on a staff that saw Duke play for an ACC championship, and the level of offensive linemen he may be able to work with at Mississippi State could potentially be improved over his units in Durham.

It is also worth noting that Johnson played under former Ole Miss offensive line coach, Matt Luke. Luke was given the full-time head coaching job at Ole Miss after his one-year interim job.

Big 12 upset brewing in Austin? Longhorns tied 7-7 with Oklahoma State at half

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Don’t hit the upset alarm just yet, but No. 10 Oklahoma State is in a bit of a defensive battle on the road against the Texas Longhorns. After one half of play, the Cowboys and Longhorns are knotted at seven points apiece to set the stage for an interesting second half of play in Austin.

J.D. King gave Oklahoma State a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run. It came on Oklahoma State’s third possession of the game and at the end of a 96-yard drive. The next time the Cowboys had the football, another long drive for points was stalled when Justice Hill lost a fumble at the Texas 14-yard line. The Longhorns capitalized on the turnover by orchestrating a quick three-play 86-yard touchdown drive. Sam Ehlinger completed a 90-yard pass to John Burt on a 2nd and 16 and then Ehlinger took it in himself from two yards out on the next play to tie the game at 7-7.