After a lively and lengthy first half, Texas holds a 16-14 lead over USC at the break in Austin.
It was clear from the first snap Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando‘s game plan was to rattle USC true freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels through a number of blitz looks. It was clear immediately after that the plan wasn’t going to work.
Daniels completed 12 of his first 17 passes, leading the Trojans on a 9-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to open the game, then, after a punt, an 8-play, 53-yard scoring march, staking visiting USC to a 14-3 lead with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
Suddenly, Texas needed a touchdown drive or the game would quickly get away from them, and a touchdown drive is what they got. Sam Ehlinger found Lil'Jordan Humphrey for a 47-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass, pulling the Longhorns within 14-10 with 13:23 to play in the opening half. Texas cornerback Kris Boyd intercepted Daniels on the next snap from scrimmage, but Collin Johnson dropped a would-be first down catch on 3rd and 8, forcing Cameron Dicker to convert a 46-yard field goal.
Hooking up twice with favorite target Amon-Ra St. Brown, Daniels moved USC into a 1st and goal at the Texas 9, but Texas stuffed consecutive runs from the 1 to turn the Trojans away empty handed with 7:14 left in the first half. On the ensuing possession, the Trojans appeared to sack Ehlinger inside his own end zone, but officials ruled him out of the end zone and the call was upheld upon review. The drive was actually given new life twice when USC was flagged for roughing the punter, but Texas punted anyway.
Still, the lack of a safety call worked in Texas’s favor when the ‘Horns forced a three-and-out and Chris Tilbey gave Texas the ball with 2:20 to play before the break at its own 49 after a 13-yard punt. Ehlinger eventually guided Texas to the USC 33, and Dicker nailed a 46-yarder as time expired to give Texas its first lead of the night.
For the half, Daniels completed 16-of-27 passes for 199 yards with an interception, hitting St. Bronw five times for 88 yards. USC managed only 16 yards on 11 credited rushes. USC converted six of its first seven third down tries.
Ehlinger started hot, but closed the half 7-of-17 for 132 yards with a touchdown. Tre Watson leads all runners with seven carries for 30 yards.
Texas will receive to open the second half.