There are never good losses — they don’t exist. But Texas sure got close to one on Saturday night.
The Longhorns’ loss to No. 4 University of Southern California was a heartbreaker. There’s no hiding it. However, they proved to the 84,714 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that they can compete with anybody in the country on their best night.
This is still the same team who gave up 51 points to Maryland. However, after nearly beating then-No. 4 USC, the Longhorns might be the most confident 1–2 team in the nation.
“You never want to lose, ever,” head coach Tom Herman said. “But for the future of this program, our two losses might be some huge lessons. One, obviously I really do believe that our kids had a huge wake up call and eye-opening realization after the first game … but also playing the No. 4 team in the country into double overtime in their stadium is also a huge eye-opener.”
Texas played with a passion and intensity on Saturday that, quite frankly, Longhorn fans haven’t seen in years. The USC faithful put their hands over their heads after Texas took a 17-14 lead with 39 seconds left in the game, and any hints of the once mediocre Longhorn team seemingly vanished as the Longhorns stood face-to-face with a college football powerhouse.
“Anybody that’s been watching Texas football for the last few years, and even the first game of this season, I would hope that you guys saw a much-improved energy, passion, enthusiasm,” Herman said.
It was still just the third game of the Herman era, but Texas may have flashed something that’s been a long time coming on the 40 Acres: change.
“We are finally understanding that we need to play every game like a championship game,” junior linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “Not that we thought this was a championship game, but we need to find that out and go out and find our identity.”
A four-turnover game should lead to a disastrous ending for any team. The passion and intensity the Longhorns displayed not only weathered the damage caused by the offensive miscues, but kept a potent USC offense off the board for most of the first half, allowing Texas to stay in the game and even take a late-game lead.
That’s why Texas players and fans alike left the Los Angeles Coliseum with a feeling of optimism despite the disappointment of Saturday’s double overtime defeat.
“We’re so excited,” freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “All the things in this game that we messed up on are fixable. Turnovers are fixable, ball security is fixable. Our defense did an excellent job against one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.”
Texas put together its most impressive performance of the season. But a loss is a loss. That was clear by the tears, the dejection and the sorrow that filled the locker room after the game.
However, Texas’ statement is made. The Longhorns proved they can keep up with anybody. Now they just have to make it happen during Big 12 play.
“After we lick our wounds and realize how close we came, we’ll be able to build upon this immensely,” Herman said. “If we play every team in the Big 12 as hard and as physical as we played this team tonight, home or road, we’ll have a shot to win some games.”