Texas clinches spot in Big 12 title game with win over Kansas

Yahoo Sports
Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson (9) catches a <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/275098/" data-ylk="slk:Sam Ehlinger">Sam Ehlinger</a> pass for a touchdown in front of Kansas cornerback Corione Harris (2). (AP)
Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson (9) catches a Sam Ehlinger pass for a touchdown in front of Kansas cornerback Corione Harris (2). (AP)

Texas is one step closer to its first Big 12 title since 2009.

With a 24-17 victory over Kansas on Friday, the Longhorns advanced to the Big 12 championship game, where they will face the winner of Friday night’s Oklahoma vs. West Virginia game.

Kansas, playing in its last game under David Beaty before Les Miles fully takes over the program, gave Oklahoma some trouble last week, gashing the Sooners for 524 yards and 40 points in a 55-40 loss. For much of the afternoon, Texas had no such trouble.

Texas’ lead was 21-0 at the start of the fourth quarter. Kansas cut it to 21-7 on a long TD run from Pooka Williams. And on Texas’ next drive, Sam Ehlinger threw his second interception of the game, giving KU great field position.

All of a sudden, the momentum in a game completely controlled by Texas swung toward the Jayhawks. But it was short-lived. Two plays later, Peyton Bender was intercepted by Jeffrey McCulloch on a great individual effort. McCulloch returned it 65 yards into Kansas territory, leading to a Texas field goal.

Kansas competed to the end with 10 points in the final four minutes, but Texas was able to hold on for its ninth win of the season. Kansas finished the year 3-9.

Texas overcame three losses to reach Big 12 title game

Tom Herman’s second season at Texas began the same way the first did: with a loss to Maryland. But from there, the Longhorns rebounded with six wins in a row, including a dramatic 48-45 victory over then-undefeated Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. Following a win over Baylor, UT was up to No. 6 in the rankings.

However, UT dropped its next two to Oklahoma State and West Virginia by a combined four points. At that point, Texas was third behind WVU and Oklahoma in the Big 12 — but things changed. West Virginia’s loss to Oklahoma State last week, plus Texas’ win over Iowa State, cleared up the path for the Longhorns.

Now, thanks to the win over the Jayhawks, Texas has a chance to win the Big 12 for the first time since 2009 next week at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Tom Herman has engineered a quick turnaround

Texas has really struggled as a program in the last decade. Things declined rapidly in the late Mack Brown years, and Charlie Strong was never able to revitalize the storied program back to its winning ways.

Tom Herman, on the other hand, has been able to engineer a quick turnaround. His first season was up-and-down, but ended by winning three of four games, including the Texas Bowl over Missouri to finish with a 7-6 record.

Now, in year two, Herman has UT playing for a conference crown. To do so, the Longhorns will have to either beat rival Oklahoma for the second time this season or get some revenge over West Virginia, who beat Texas with a two-point conversion in the final minute on Nov. 3.

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