This game was being touted as the rematch of the 2005-06 National Championship game but realistically, nobody expected the Longhorns to hang with the 4th ranked USC.
Texas came into this game as a 17-point underdog and we all wondered exactly which Texas team would be taking the field.
Would we get the team that was blown out by the Maryland Terrapins in Week 1 or the stout defense that showed up in Week 2 against San Jose State?
Nerves were apparent on both sides of the ball early on, and it looked like there was a very good chance we were going to head into halftime with a 0-0 tie when all hell broke loose.
With just under five minutes to play in the half, USC took the ball at the Texas 37 and drove right down the field, capping the drive with a Darnold 15-yard pass to Burnett.
The Longhorns had plenty of time to mount a drive, but ended up moving the ball only seven yards and had to punt it away.
With under a minute left in the half, Elliott intercepted Darnold and returned it for a touchdown. Just like that, the game was tied, but this tie would not last long.
In a sign of what would happen at the end of the game, USC moved the ball 62 yards when Jones took a short pass from Darnold and turned it into an end-of-the-half dagger by scampering 56 yards for the score.
The Longhorns did not let that get them down, though, as they came right out in the second half and put up a quick field goal to get within four points of the Trojans.
Texas’ defense clamped down on USC, forcing a turnover on downs, three punts, and an interception up until the last five minutes of the game.
With 5:14 left in the game and the score still remaining 14-10, USC punted it away and Hemphill-Matts fair caught it at the nine. The Horns had to drive 91 yards when they had barely moved the ball all day long.
Ehlinger was masterful, though, guiding the offense slowly down the field, throwing a 17-yard pass to Foreman that stunned the crowd and left them absolutely silent. The Horns now led 17-14 with 45 seconds left on the clock.
Once again, the Longhorns defense loosened up just as it had at the end of the first half. In just three plays, Darnold had the Trojans on the Texas 31. After throwing an incompletion, Darnold hit Mitchell for 18 years, and the ball was now on the 13.
All of a sudden the swagger was gone out of that Texas D that had held USC in check all game. They were only hoping to hold them to a field goal so they could get the game to overtime.
The Trojans offense did stall, and McGrath made the 31 yarder to send it into OT.
USC needed only one play to score a TD and suddenly Texas was fighting for its life again. Ehlinger would deliver, though, hitting Brewer for a 3-yard TD pass on the Horns fifth play of OT… and then it happened.
The Horns got the ball first in the second OT session and Ehlinger was immediately sacked by Rector.
Ehlinger then completed back-to-back passes, and the Horns had 1st and 10 on the 11. Ehlinger rushed for eight yards and the Horns tried it again. This time, though, the ball was stripped out of Ehlinger’s arms as he leaned into the pile and the dream was over.
At this point, all USC needed was a field goal on their possession to win the game. They played it very conservatively and Chase Martin buried the 43-yard field goal to win the game.
This should be a confidence booster for the young team, but several of Coach Herman’s decisions during this game are going to come under fire.
The decision to play soft at the end of the game baffled everyone. The Longhorns had put a stranglehold on the Trojans for virtually the entire game. The only time they were able to move the ball was at the end of the first half, so why repeat the mistake?
Why Ehlinger was running the ball inside the 10 is another mystery. He is an undersized quarterback. While the Texas running backs were not tearing it up by any means, they were a far better option than Ehlinger. Of course, hindsight is a beautiful thing and Herman did not have that luxury.
The Longhorns have a bye this week and I am not exactly sure that is a good thing. Now they have two full weeks to stew on this loss before playing Iowa State on the 28th.
Other Big 12 Games
TCU won the Iron Skillet game, defeating SMU 56-36.
Baylor slid to 0-3, falling to Duke 34-10.
Texas Tech won a shootout against Arizona State, 52-45.
Other Notable Games
Texas A&M beat Louisiana, 45-21.
UTEP got manhandled by Arizona, 63-16.
Iowa beat North Texas, 31-14.
UT San Antonio beat Southern, 51-17.
Texas State lost to Appalachian State, 20-13.
Houston beat Rice, 38-3.