Blood, tears, and most importantly Sweat, created the magic formula for Texas’ 26-16 victory over Iowa State.
The standout player of the game was indubitably senior defensive lineman T’Vondre Sweat. The Outland Trophy semi-finalist impacted the entire flow of the Iowa State offense, likely motivated by the comments of Iowa State guard Jarrod Hufford earlier in the week.
“It’s going to be one heck of a farewell present. They are going to come in here on Senior Night in the dark,” Hufford said to the media earlier in the week.
Sweat recorded just one tackle, but his constant pass rush, broken-up pass and blocked extra point dramatically shifted the course of the game.
“I don’t know why you’d ever call them out,” said head coach Steve Sarkisian about Sweat and junior defensive lineman Byron Murphy. “It’d be the last thing I would do if I was getting ready to play us.”
As expected in a game between the Big 12’s two best defenses, the offense was limited. Iowa State only recorded nine total rushing yards, mostly thanks to Sweat, Murphy and the stellar linebacker play. When the halftime whistle blew, Texas led just 6-3 in an offensive drought for both programs.
No touchdowns were scored in the first 39 minutes of the game, but each of the two teams’ first appearances in the endzone had a great impact, especially for the Longhorns. After stopping Iowa State on a third down, the Longhorns regained possession with 10 minutes left in the third. Eight plays later, wide receiver Adonai Mitchell caught an out-route right at the line, seemingly gaining a first down. But the ball was marked short, and Texas had a third-and-one at Iowa State’s 23-yard line, a usual weak spot for Sarkisian’s offense.
But Sarkisian, Quinn Ewers and Jordan Whittington weren’t listening to the outside noise. On a well-executed play-action play, Whittington cut up the field, burning his defender, and walked in for an easy touchdown. Texas was ahead by 10.
The next drive, Iowa State found its rhythm. The Cyclones were able to drive 83 yards in just seven plays, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown catch by sophomore running back Eli Sanders. On the extra point, however, star senior defensive tackle Sweat blocked the kick, falling right into the hands of sophomore defensive back Austin Jordan, who returned the ball all the way back for Texas’ own two-point conversion.
Texas turned a seven-point touchdown into two points of their own, creating a three point swing. Despite both teams finding the endzone, Texas had gained a three point advantage and was now six points in the lead.
“I still say the quote, five-star culture versus five-star players,” Sarkisian said. “Well, now we have both. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say.”
Each team scored a touchdown within their next two possessions, and after a Texas field goal, the Longhorns were up 10 with just over six minutes to play. In a final effort, Iowa State turned the ball over on downs with three minutes to go, and with help from freshman running back CJ Baxter, the Longhorns secured the win.
Baxter finished the game with his first 100-yard performance of his college career, averaging just under six yards per carry on 20 rushes. Baxter replaced star redshirt sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks in his first game missed this season. Brooks will miss the remainder of the season, but Baxter has shown he can step up when it matters most.
Texas reaches 10 wins for the first time since 2018, and the chance to hit 11 wins for the first time since 2009 with a win over Texas Tech at home next Friday.
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