Ugly win over Iowa State still a win for UT
October, 4, 2013
By Max Olson | ESPN.com
To say “a win is a win” and just move on doesn’t feel applicable. Not on this night.
The final score -- Texas 31, Iowa State 30 -- seemed like one of the few things the Longhorns got right on Thursday.
There are positive ways to spin what Texas did against the Cyclones, what with the fourth-quarter comeback and the final stop and getting to 2-0 in the Big 12. But it’s hard to heap too much praise on that victory without sounding disingenuous.
In his postgame comments, though, Mack Brown said he considers this a great win for Texas. He loves a good comeback. He’ll take the victory and he won’t complain.
“One of the trademarks of our football teams have been comeback wins, especially in close games like this,” Brown said. “I’m so proud of our guys.”
He also offered this: “It’s about winning. It’s not about who called plays good or who scored points. Stats do not matter. Points do. So I’m proud of this team, proud of the coaches for hanging in there.”
Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports
Texas celebrated the win over Iowa State, but that doesn't mean it was a great victory for Mack Brown and his Longhorns.
If we want to strip away the details and just get real simple, yes, the Longhorns needed to escape Ames, Iowa, with a win. They did just that.
This was ultimately the result they wanted. How they did that, however, wasn’t very pretty when you go down the list.
A 45-yard touchdown run and a 44-yard Hail Mary accounted for more than half of Texas’ total offense in the first half.
After his 45-yard score, Johnathan Gray received five carries for 14 yards the rest of the half. Texas was wise to ride him in the second half against Kansas State -- when Case McCoy came in for David Ash and had to run the show -- and he put up career-best numbers. This time, he was too often a nonfactor. He’d finish with six carries on Texas’ final drive and just 10 during the rest of the game.
Coaches said ISU took away Texas’ ability to run, and that the pass game would have to set up a successful rushing attack. So McCoy attempted a career-high 45 passes, completing 26 for 244 yards.
Oh, and there was the personal foul penalty in which it appears Texas receiver Mike Davis took a cheap shot at an Iowa State defender's knees after a play was over. That's not a good look and could merit a reprimand from the Big 12 this week.
But surely none of this comes anywhere close to mattering as much as Texas’ last drive of the night. The Cyclones can’t complain about the position they put themselves in. Texas’ 75-yard drive to clinch was aided by 23 yards of obvious ISU penalties.
But the goal-line ending was something else entirely. ISU coach Paul Rhoads probably had every right to be outraged when it was all over, after referees ruled that Gray did not fumble from 2-yards and 1-yard out on consecutive attempts.
They were close and difficult calls, the second one more so than the first. Iowa State fans will maintain Texas got two gigantic favors from the officiating crew.
But for Texas to get a 1-yard rushing touchdown from McCoy -- after its own fans howled throughout that it was finally time to use the dual-threat freshman Tyrone Swoopes -- was almost a fitting ending to a game that Texas just barely did enough to win.
“We were able to put enough together to get out of here on a Thursday night, and we’ll take a win any day,” McCoy said.
What Texas did Thursday was enough to beat Iowa State. It won’t come anywhere close to being enough against Oklahoma next week.
But, again, Brown sees lots of positives. Nothing he saw on Thursday night dented his optimism going forward.
“This gives us some confidence. They’re happy in there,” Brown said. “They’ll feel better going into next week’s game. You can coach them hard when you win and you mess a lot of things up.
“This is good. This will be a real positive for us moving forward. I’m really excited. I think I love comeback wins on the road more than anything in football.”
Brown might not find many who agree with him. But the scoreboard says his team won, and Texas isn't playing well enough to ask for much more than that.
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BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35