Texas football: 3 reasons Longhorns are back after nearly defeating Alabama
In one of the best games of college football in Week 2, the Texas Longhorns almost came out with an upset win over the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide. The contest was only decided in the waning moments, with Alabama hitting a 33-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Despite the 20-19 loss, there were a lot of good things Texas fans saw from the Longhorns. Keeping a game this close against a Nick Saban squad led by superstar talents such as Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. is something that most teams won’t be able to do. The statement performance, despite a loss, could signal that Texas football is in good shape for the remainder of the 2022 season.
With that being said, here are three reasons why the Longhorns are back after nearly defeating the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
3. The FBS Rankings
It is not every day that an unranked team that lost on the weekend jumps into the Top 25 polls. Well, that happened with the Longhorns this week. Texas was on the outside looking in at the rankings before taking on Bama, but saw themselves rewarded for their hard work with the No. 21 spot in this week’s Top 25.
Not only does it show that people are noticing the Longhorns, but also that they believe the Alabama game is not a fluke. This marks just the first time Texas is ranked since Week 6 of last season and indicates that there is a common belief that the Longhorns are a real threat this season.
As much as fans talk about the Longhorns, all of this means that journalists and coaches are noticing their growth and potential. Facing UTSA at home and Texas Tech in the next weeks, the Longhorns have a good chance of skyrocketing the rankings with strong wins, so long as they can back up their play against Alabama with a dominant showing in the coming matches.
2. The DKR Texas Memorial Stadium’s atmosphere is for real
The Longhorns knew they had a big challenge ahead of them with the Crimson Tide. Because of that, fans made sure they were at the DKR Texas Memorial Stadium to show their support.
The school set a new all-time attendance record at the stadium as a staggering 105,213 fans flooded the seats. The crowd certainly played a role in Texas’ close game against Alabama. The Crimson Tide had 15 penalties for 100 yards, while the Longhorns only had five for 30 yards.
Texas’ defense held Alabama to a 33% third-down conversion rate, as the Tide complete just five of its 15 third downs. It also forced the Crimson Tide to punt six times and the high-octane offense managed just two touchdowns in the game, getting held scoreless in the second and third quarters.
Texas has a few key home games still on the docket, and if the atmosphere is anything close to what it was on Saturday, the Longhorns should have much better chances of coming out with wins. Should they get those victories, the Longhorns have a case to perhaps make it to the New Year’s Six bowls.
1. The Longhorns have talent and heart
In Week 2, multiple Longhorns stepped up and showed why they deserve recognition. Wide receiver Xavier Worthy finished the game with five receptions for a game-high 97 yards. Additionally, four other players recorded at least 20 receiving yards on Saturday.
Texas had a total of 292 passing yards, while Alabama had 213. Since the Crimson Tide have a Heisman winner as the starting quarterback in Bryce Young, those numbers look even more promising for the Longhorns. They also did that most with their backup quarterback as Quinn Ewers left the game after a first-quarter injury.
The defense also showed up, registering two sacks and six tackles for loss in the game. The unit had one pass deflection and an impressive seven quarterback hurries. Young likely had a tough time in Texas, all thanks to the defensive corps led by head coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.
But perhaps most importantly, the Longhorns showed they have a lot of heart. Backup quarterback Hudson Card apparently suffered an ankle injury in the second half. Instead of leaving the game, Card said he never considered exiting the contest.
Even with the loss, there were moments when Texas looked like a playoff team. With important matchups coming up, having the talent will help, but the heart Card showed could be a game changer. Now, the Longhorns know they are a good team that can play against any opponent and put up a fight.