It’s been a meandering decade for Texas football but at least the program ended it on a high note.
The Longhorns pulled out their best defensive performance of the year despite a rash of injuries and a huge amount of staff turnover to rout No. 11 Utah on Tuesday night, ending 2019 with a 38-10 Alamo Bowl win.
While UT’s offense has typically carried the team this year, it was the other side of the ball that rose up to deliver a standout performance when most counted them out of the game well before kickoff. Playing just down the road from the 40 Acres, sophomore linebacker Joseph Ossai was borderline unblockable in the game with nine tackles (six for loss) and three sacks in a career outing. Defensive ends Malcolm Roach and Ta’Quon Graham also got in on the action with a sack each to go with an impressive night coming off the edge.
Their ability to keep the Utes from moving the ball much took the pressure off Sam Ehlinger and company for once — not that it mattered much as the ‘Horns were their usual self in making big plays. The quarterback wound up with yet another big stat line by throwing for 201 yards and three touchdowns (one interception) while chipping in with 73 yards on the ground and another score.
Hauling in most of Ehlinger’s passes was none other than top wideout Devin Duvernay, who closed out his time in burnt orange with a terrific all-around effort. He completed a pass for six yards, ran a reverse and caught three passes for an ever efficient 92 yards and a touchdown. Tailback Keaontay Ingram topped the century mark on the ground and scored a touchdown to really twist the knife in the result.
While everything came up Texas in the game, the same could not be said of the folks from out West. Despite coming within a game of making the College Football Playoff, the Utes were throughly whipped from start to finish. The senior backfield duo of QB Tyler Huntley (126 yards, 1 TD) and RB Zach Moss (57 yards rushing) were bottled up completely and end their career on a sour note with two straight blowout losses to end the season.
What really made things tough is that head coach Kyle Whittingham had sported one of the best bowl winning percentages of anybody but instead saw his team barely show up. They also keep a rather unfathomable streak alive as the Pac-12 title game loser (dating back to 2011) has never won their bowl game after falling in the conference championship game. It was still a very good 11 win season for Utah but the ending definitely spoiled the campaign a bit.
That’s not the case for Tom Herman, who was once again money as an underdog. The staff shuffling and numerous injuries had many worrying that a once promising 2019 would end on a thud after such an up-and-down season but that wasn’t the case in San Antonio. Texas may not be back as they proclaimed last year in the Sugar Bowl but they will certainly remember the Alamo (Bowl) as they head into 2020 with some momentum following a big win right down the road from campus.