End-of-game thoughts as No. 17 Texas succumbs to No. 13 Iowa State, 23-20

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Joseph Ossai and the Texas defense limited Iowa State to 10 points in the first half; Ossai finished with three tackles, including half a tackle-for-loss (photo courtesy of University of Texas Athletics).

Some very questionable decisions by Tom Herman and a mediocre offensive performance wasted a fine performance by a Texas defense that was on the field way too much.

Texas now has almost no chance to make it to the Big 12 Championship game, and the calls for a coaching change that were heard in early October likely will resurface.

There were some very poor decisions by Herman in the second half, and they ultimately could end up costing him his job.

Instead of taking three points to go ahead, 23-16, midway through the fourth, Texas went for it (and failed) on fourth-and-1 at the Iowa State 13.

If Herman takes the points there, the game eventually goes into overtime
But the decision in the third quarter was the most egregious.

Why call a fake punt on fourth-and-8 at your own 48 when you’re ahead 20-13 and your defense has been playing well? Not one of Herman’s finest moments (he also apparently didn’t watch the Dallas Cowboys game yesterday).

Iowa State promptly drove for one of its field goals, but that three points is on Herman.

We said in our halftime thoughts that the Texas offense had to be better in the second half.

It wasn’t.

Sam Ehlinger took a sack on third-and-10 at the end of the game that pushed the game-tying field goal attempt from 52 yards to 58. That can’t happen.

The Texas offense had to do much more than go three-and-out when it got the ball back with 4:09 to go in the fourth. It took hardly any time off the clock — a minute, to be exact — and gave the ball back to Iowa State with 3:09 to go.

It’s almost hard to believe when you look at the stats and see Ehlinger threw for more than 300 yards and the team rushed for 145 yards. But when you consider the rushing game only averaged 4.1 yards an attempt, it isn’t as impressive.

Like it was three weeks ago against West Virginia, the Texas defense was very impressive. It bent some, but ultimately it held Iowa State to four field-goal attempts — of which the Cyclones made three — on its non-touchdown drives deep into Longhorn territory.

Keeping a Big 12 opponent to 23 points in 2020 should be enough to win.
Heralded Iowa State running back Breece Hall was basically a non-factor until Iowa State’s final touchdown drive, and Texas is still the only team this season to keep him under 100 yards, as he finished with 91.

Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 312 yards, but in 2020 and in the Big 12, that’s acceptable. Texas had the perfect performance to open the second half, with the defense forcing Iowa State into a quick punt, then the offense marching 89 yards for a touchdown to go up, 20-10.

Ehlinger looked great on that drive, and like he did first quarter, he hooked up with Brennan Eagles on a long pass that eventually set up a 7-yard touchdown strike to Jared Wiley.

In a game Texas had to win, this was huge.

But the Longhorns’ offense didn't do enough the rest of the way.

The Texas defense tried to bail it — and Herman — out, but ultimately, a defense can only bend so much.

We’re officially on “Herman watch.”  

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