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.