Among empty seats and a lethargic crowd the Longhorns returned home Saturday afternoon for their first home game in 44 days.
After coming out to a sluggish start, Texas was able to grab its fifth Big 12 win of the season, defeating Kansas 35-13. Highlighted by junior running back Malcolm Brown and senior defensive tackle Chris Whaley, the Longhorns handed the Jayhawks their 26th consecutive conference loss.
“It’s a W,” head coach Mack Brown said. “We’ve won five straight. We’re 5-0 in the league. The objective was to get a W. When you can win and have a lot of things to fix, I think it’s wonderful. Better than last year’s Kansas game, too.”
The Longhorns failed to produce any points in the first quarter for the first time since their season opener. Mistakes plagued both teams in the first half, as neither created much offensive production.
Coming into the game as a 28-point favorite, Texas only led 14-3 at halftime.
“They did some things we didn’t see on film and it kind of got to us,” sophomore running back Johnathan Gray said. “We had to regroup and come back at half time and just adjust. And that’s what we did.”
Texas never fully pulled away from Kansas until the third quarter, as the Jayhawks were able to tally two field goals to keep them within striking distance for most of the game.
The turning point came after a Cedric Reed forced fumble that was recovered by Whaley and brought to the endzone for his second touchdown of the season. The former running back noted a pick-6 against Oklahoma last month and currently has more touchdowns than wide receivers Jaxon Shipley and Kendall Sanders combined.
“I thought it changed momentum completely," Mack Brown said. "We were challenging the guys and somebody had to step up and make a difference in the game and change their momentum in the second half. After that it really wasn’t a game.”
Malcolm Brown carried his team with four touchdowns, a career-high to mark his second consecutive multiple score performance. Brown had two touchdowns last week against TCU and credits his success to the offensive line.
“We want to run tough every week,” Brown said. “I think that offensive line did a great job and made it a whole lot easier on me. I know we just want to ground those yards out and that is what we came out and did.”
Before Tyrone Swoopes came in to replace him, Case McCoy recorded 20 completions for 196 yards. The senior was sacked for the first time in nine quarters and threw two interceptions in the win.
“I thought Case did a good job of not getting frustrated when he had the turnovers that he had,” Mack Brown said. “He did a good job of leading the team in the second half when things weren’t going really well. [He had] a little adversity today but he stepped up and handled it very well.”
After handling plenty of trouble to begin the season, Texas now has to handle with success as it has won its last five games and sits atop the Big 12.
“We really haven’t had success [this season],” Gray said. “We’re headed to success and we’re doing a great job right now. We’re climbing that ladder and getting better and better each week.”