The standings suggest Texas has recovered and the annual Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma will be renewed to determine Big 12 supremacy.
Standings, however, reflect only numbers. In this case, a 2-0 mark for the Longhorns to begin conference play.
Still, those jolting nonconference defeats, at BYU by 19 points and against Ole Miss by 21 points, have not been erased just yet. Nor has the pressure on veteran coach Mack Brown.
Texas (4-2) needed breaks late in both halves to pull out a 31-30 squeaker at Iowa State on Oct. 3. A Hail Mary pass reception to end the first half gave the Longhorns a lead at the break. A controversial replay confirmation of a non-fumble call near the goal line at the end of the second half preserved a drive Case McCoy capped with a touchdown sneak.
So no, the Longhorns are far from dominant after opening Big 12 play with a 10-point victory at home against Kansas State, which, along with Iowa State, were the two Big 12 teams that lost to Championship Subdivision opponents in nonconference play.
The outcome against Iowa State required a favorable replay confirmation. Cyclones linebacker Jeremiah George appeared to have stripped the Longhorns’ Johnathan Gray on second effort, but Gray was ruled down.
Afterward, ISU coach Paul Rhoads railed on the no-call and subsequent review.
“I’ve got pretty good eyesight,” Rhoads said. “The view I had of that gigantic screen in the north end zone showed a player not down and our guy with the football.”
The 75-yard drive by the Longhorns included two pass interference penalties against the Cyclones, as well as another near-fumble by Gray.
Still, Texas coach Mack Brown preferred to talk about the significance of the outcome as it applies to his team’s future.
“This game gives us some confidence,” Brown said. “They’re happy. They’ll feel a lot better going into next week’s game. You can coach them hard when you win. This will be a positive for us moving forward. I love comeback wins on the road more than anything else in college football.”
The decisive score came with 51 seconds remaining, yet the Cyclones drove past midfield looking to answer in the closing seconds. Confusion was apparent, however, on a third-down pass by Sam Richardson, which Cedric Reed deflected and Jackson Jeffcoat intercepted to seal Texas’ win.
Looking back, a ton of plays were critical, though the 44-yard desperation heave McCoy launched into the end zone at the end of the first half certainly gave the Longhorns new life. John Harris made the touchdown grab among four Iowa State defenders.
McCoy completed 26 of 45 passes for 244 yards, with no interceptions, as a replacement for David Ash, who remained at home recovering from a concussion.
“I think adversity has already struck this team plenty of times,” said McCoy, “and we keep finding ways to keep battling and staying together and sticking together.”
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 6 IN THE BIG 12
1. Baylor is going to be tough to contain. After breezing through its nonconference opposition, the Bears opened Big 12 play by setting a league record by generating 864 yards against West Virginia. QB Bryce Petty and RB Lache Seastrunk have been the best at their positions.
2. Oklahoma is regaining its defensive swagger in Mike Stoops’ second season back as coordinator. The Sooners did not allow TCU a first down until the third quarter. Good thing, because the Sooners had offensive difficulties of their own against the Frogs’ experienced defense.
3. Texas sits atop the Big 12 standings, but only after a controversial ruling on a non-fumble was upheld and enabled the Longhorns to score the winning TD in a 31-30 squeaker at Iowa State. A true measure of Texas’ character comes next in its annual showdown with Oklahoma.
4. Texas Tech is the biggest surprise in the conference, surging to 5-0 under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury by burying Kansas 54-16. The Red Raiders scored their first TD midway through the second quarter, then went on a tear, though QB Baker Mayfield went out with a knee injury.
5. Kansas State continues to make uncharacteristic mistakes that must be maddening to tactician Bill Snyder, the Wildcats’ veteran coach. Five turnovers at Oklahoma State, including two late interceptions, blew an upset bid. The Wildcats also drew 12 penalties for 92 yards.