Tuesday's college football: Texas overcomes Ehlinger injury, routs Colorado 55-23
San Antonio — Texas has been tested all year, but losing senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger to a shoulder injury was an obstacle the Longhorns never anticipated.
The same spirit that pushed the team through this entire chaotic season helped the Longhorns thrive without him.
Sophomore signal-caller Casey Thompson came off the bench and passed for 170 yards and four touchdowns, and No. 20 Texas overcame Ehlinger’s injury to beat Colorado 55-23 in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Tuesday night.
Freshman running back Bijan Robinson had 183 yards on 10 carries with a TD for Texas (7-3). He was selected the bowl’s offensive MVP.
“We had a lot of young guys that stepped up in this game,” Robinson said.
The Longhorns are undefeated in four bowl games under Tom Herman, unbeaten as a head coach in five bowls overall.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by some really dedicated young men that 10 months ago made a decision that they were going to go to work every day and do whatever it took to get through this season together,” Herman said. “And they did. We had our ups and downs, but they never wavered. They never gave up hope. They never gave up confidence. They kept playing for each other. I couldn’t be prouder of my team.”
More adversity developed against the Buffaloes (4-2).
Ehlinger missed the second half after sustaining a shoulder injury in the second quarter. Herman said he was uncertain when the injury occurred, but Ehlinger returned to the field in the third quarter in warmups, with his right arm in a sling. There was no immediate word on the extent of his injury.
“I hated that he couldn’t finish the game, but we wouldn’t be here without him,” Herman said. “He was the leader behind this senior class. I don’t know what the future holds for him, but I know that I’m thankful for him being on our team, being on my team each and every day. What he means to us is indescribable.”
The NCAA is offering athletes an extra year of eligibility given the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is unknown if Ehlinger will return.
He played the entire first half Tuesday, completing 10 of 16 passes for 160 yards and a score.
Colorado was playing its sixth game of the season due to the coronavirus. The Pac-12 initially canceled its season only to reverse the decision and delay the start until Nov. 7.
The Buffaloes had two games canceled due to virus issues, but competed in the Alamo Bowl despite failing to reach the traditional six-win threshold required for the postseason.
The Longhorns appeared more polished throughout, striking quickly to open both halves.
Fueled by a 39-yard pass from Ehlinger to Joshua Moore, Texas drove 74 yards on four plays in 50 seconds on its opening possession. Robinson dove in for an 8-yard TD run with 12:51 left in the opening quarter.
Robinson scored again two possessions later, catching a 14-yard pass from Ehlinger with 5:28 remaining in the first.
The Longhorns didn’t take a step back without Ehlinger.
Thompson started the second half in place of Ehlinger and led Texas to a touchdown on its opening possession. Thompson completed a 13-yard scoring pass to Moore just 37 seconds into the third for a 24-10 advantage.
Thompson added a 25-yard touchdown pass to Moore, a 23-yarder to Robinson and a 73-yarder to Kelvontay Dixon. The backup was 8 of 10 on the night.
“I’m really proud of the young guys,” Herman said. “I’m really, really excited about the future. What these last two games playing so many young guys has shown is the trajectory of our program and what we’re capable of with these young guys.”
Cameron Dicker set an Alamo Bowl record with a 53-yard field goal late in the first half that extended the Longhorns’ lead to 17-7.
Colorado’s only sustained drive of the first quarter ended in an interception when Sam Noyer threw into a group of four defenders. Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown made his second interception of the season, picking off Noyer at the Buffaloes 11-yard line. Overshown had six tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery
Jarek Broussard rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries for Colorado.
►Oklahoma State 37, No.18 Miami 34: Spencer Sanders threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns, and the Cowboys held off No. 18 Miami in Orlando, Fla.
Oklahoma State (8-3) called 15 consecutive pass plays to open the game and stormed out to a 21-0 lead. Sanders threw TD passes of 30 and 32 yards to Brennan Presley, and LD Brown had a 2-yard touchdown run.
“Our game plan going in was to try to offset some of the speed and strength they have in the front six,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “They are a fast, athletic team. We wanted to throw the ball 25 times in the first half.”
Sanders also led the Cowboys with 45 yards rushing and was named Most Valuable Player.
“That MVP doesn’t just go to me,” Sanders said. “The defense stopped them when they needed to stop them. We scored when we needed to score. I told them that this MVP is for everyone.”
Presley caught a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put Oklahoma State up 37-26. He finished with six receptions for 118 yards. Tay Martin had six catches for 73 yards, and Dillon Stoner also caught a touchdown pass.
“We have a bunch of weapons,” Sanders said. “We have guys you haven’t even seen yet and guys that didn’t get many touches. Putting Brennan with that group makes it that much better.”
Miami (8-3) got on the board in the second quarter when D’Eriq King threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brevin Jordan. But King left with a right knee injury with 4:06 remaining in the first half. Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said he will be evaluated Wednesday.
King, who transferred to Miami from Houston before the season, announced last week that he would be returning to Miami and for a sixth season of college football.
“It’s harsh ... a year that’s had so much adversity, for a guy that’s done everything right,” Diaz said. “Hopefully we’ll get good news tomorrow.”
The Hurricanes rallied behind backup quarterback N’Kosi Perry, who threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Cam’Ron Harris’ 42-yard touchdown run made it 21-19 in the third quarter, but Jordan came up short on the 2-point conversion.
“The guys rallied around N’Kosi and did a great job,” Diaz said. “He looked like a guy that played a lot of ball and the team had confidence that they could move the ball with him.”
Perry’s 5-yard TD pass to Michael Harley helped the Hurricanes close to 37-34 with 5:39 left. But he misfired on six of his final nine passes, and his 6-yard pass to Michael Redding III was not enough to convert a fourth-and-9 with under two minutes remaining.