Texas Dominates Tech to Clinch a Trip to Big 12 Championship
By Janelle Tanguma
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – The Longhorns bid farewell to longtime rival Texas Tech with a 57-7 blowout during their last home game of the season.
More than just a regular-season closer for Texas, this was a statement game as the Longhorns try to prove their case for a College Football Playoff spot. The top four teams make it to the playoffs.
Texas is currently ranked seventh behind No. 5 Oregon and No. 6 Ohio State. These three teams have 11-1 records while the top four teams are undefeated. Oregon and No. 3 Washington will match up on Dec. 1, guaranteeing a loss for at least one of the teams ranked above Texas.
“We wanted to leave no doubt and we wanted to control our own destiny,” Coach Steve Sarkisian said during the post-game press conference.
Friday was senior night at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium as senior players and cheerleaders celebrated their last home game. Senior cheerleader Ramiro Ortiz said it was a bittersweet moment to experience the home crowd cheering one last time.
“Our fans that we have, our student section, everyone has been showing out all year for almost all of our games, so just being able to take that all in kind of felt surreal,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz said that his two years of cheerleading at Texas took a toll on his body, so it felt “sad but nice” to see it all come to an end. He said he hopes Texas makes it to the playoffs so he can experience cheering for football a bit longer before saying goodbye.
Seniors including running back Keilan Robinson and linebacker Jett Bush had strong performances for their last home game. Robinson scored two touchdowns, one to start the game on a pass from Quinn Ewers, and he returned the second half kickoff for 95 yards. Bush had one of the best games of his career, with an interception returned for a touchdown, a sack and another tackle for loss.
Sarkisian said the win was largely due to strong performances from the defense and special teams.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our defense and the way that they played,” Sarkisian said. “I thought our special teams was lights out tonight.”
Junior kicker Bert Auburn had a record-breaking performance, scoring 21 of the team’s 57 points. His second field goal of the night broke the school record for the most made field goals in a single season. Auburn also broke the school record for most consecutive field goals without a miss. The previous record was 15 but now stands at 19.
“You look at all the records and to see your name up there with some of the greatest to ever do it is so unreal,” Auburn said.
“I had known about the consecutive field goals, I think going into the game I needed one to tie it and two to break it. I knew about that, but I did not know about most in a season.”
Freshman quarterback Arch Manning made his college debut in the third quarter.
Manning entered the game with a 50-7 lead after Bush’s 43-yard pick-six. The redshirt freshman garnered a lot of interest this year from fans eager to see him play.
Manning ended the night completing two of five attempts for a total of 30 passing yards.
Texas’s win over Texas Tech marked the last time the two teams will face off against one another for the time being. Texas and the University of Oklahoma will both join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) at the start of the 2024 season and leave the Big 12 behind.
Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark attended Friday’s game after publicly supporting Texas Tech in August, telling them to “take care of business.”
After the blowout win from Texas, stadium staff appeared to troll the commissioner by playing the clip of his speech to Texas Tech on the jumbotron.
The Texas coach addressed the video during the post-game press conference.
“He said some things that I think were out of play, and kind of having fun with the crowd but man we’ll take anything we can get to fire our guys up,” Sarkisian said.
With Friday’s victory, Texas clinched a trip to the 2023 Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game which will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Longhorns’ opponent, Oklahoma State University, has a 9-3 record and is No. 18 in the College Football Playoff rankings.