Texas Tech looks to derail No. 7 Texas’ Big 12 title plans

Field Level Media

November 22, 2023 at 12:27 am.

No. 7 Texas can take another step toward a College Football Playoff berth when it hosts dangerous Texas Tech on Friday in a Big 12 Conference regular-season finale in Austin.

The Longhorns (10-1, 7-1) control their destiny for a spot in the Big 12 championship game — win and they’re going to Arlington Dec. 2. They can still get into the game with a loss via a series of tiebreakers, but coach Steve Sarkisian said his team is determined to take care of its business.

“This is on us,” Sarkisian said Monday. “Let’s go handle our business the way we know how to do it. It’s a tall task. It’s going to be a tough game Friday but at the end, let’s not leave it up to somebody else. Let’s do it our way and the way I know we’re capable of doing.”

The Longhorns have won five straight games since their last-second, 34-30 loss to then-No. 12 Oklahoma Oct. 7 in Dallas.

Texas is coming off a 26-16 win last Saturday at gritty Iowa State as Quinn Ewers passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns and CJ Baxter ran for 117 yards to help the Longhorns overcome a slew of mistakes.

Ewers, still not at 100 percent after suffering a shoulder injury last month, completed 23 of 33 pass attempts and Xavier Worthy caught four of his throws for 77 yards. Baxter, drawing his third start of the year and taking over for the injured Jonathon Brooks, had his first collegiate 100-yard rushing game.

Texas outgained Iowa State 404-332 and held the Cyclones to just nine yards rushing on 21 carries.

The Longhorns’ 10 wins in 11 games are their best start since 2009, when they went undefeated before losing to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game.

Texas Tech (6-5, 5-3) heads to Austin for the last scheduled meeting in the storied rivalry.

The Red Raiders are coming off their third straight win, edging UCF 24-23 at home last Saturday. Tahj Brooks carried the load, amassing a career-high 182 yards on 24 carries and a TD, with 110 of those yards coming after halftime.

They closed the game by running 11 times, eight of them by Brooks for 34 yards, to run off the final 5 1/2 minutes. Brooks has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight of Texas Tech’s last nine games.

“(The win over UCF) was a big part of continuing to build this program, having this mindset of what’s next and where can we go,” Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire said.

Texas Tech has clinched a bowl game for the second straight year by winning its past three contests by a combined 11 points.

The Red Raiders are dead set on delivering a final blow against Texas as the Longhorns depart for the Southeastern Conference after this season.

“Starting off 1-3, nobody in America would have thought we would be bowl eligible,” Tech safety C.J. Baskerville said. “For us to play the way that we have… and still be bowl eligible and now have a winning record in the Big 12 no matter how we finish, it’s a big deal.”

The Longhorns have a 54-18 advantage over Texas Tech in the all-time. The Red Raiders won 37-34 in overtime in Lubbock last season.

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