Bohls: Texas stuns TCU, lat­est hint the Longhorns are ris­ing,

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SPORT SUNDAY - Kirk Bohls Con­tact Kirk Bohls at 512-445-3772.

The best team won. How long has it been since we’ve writ­ten that about the home team on a big stage?

But it’s the un­var­nished truth as Texas bested TCU and in dom­i­nat­ing fash­ion. There was noth­ing fluky about this one.

Starv­ing for rel­e­vance, un­ranked Texas staged yet an­other come­back vic­tory in con­sec­u­tive weeks to break the TCU stran­gle­hold in this se­ries, knock­ing off the 17th-ranked Horned Frogs 31-16 be­fore a rau­cous crowd on Satur­day.

Texas fi­nally sus­tained some­thing.

On the heels of a re­mark­able turn­around in which the Longhorns over­whelmed 22nd-ranked South­ern Cal 37-14, they stuck it to the Frogs at Royal-Memo­rial Sta­dium and walked off with a gritty up­set for their sec­ond straight win over a ranked op­po­nent.

Texas hadn’t done that in con­sec­u­tive weeks in 10 long years. Not since prob­a­bly Mack Brown’s sec­ond best team ripped No. 1 Ok­la­homa, No. 11 Mis­souri and No. 7 Ok­la­homa State in three straight weeks be­fore fall­ing to No. 6 Texas Tech on Michael Crab­tree hero­ics over the course of a month. That team went 12-1.

This edi­tion may not be 12-1 good. No one’s se­ri­ously ex­pect­ing Texas (3-1) to run the table, but no one should to­tally dis­count it ei­ther. Af­ter drop­ping that ugly sea­son-opener to Mary­land, the Longhorns have es­caped Tulsa and routed both USC and TCU to sig­nal good things ahead.

Texas is do­ing it with a rav­en­ous de­fense that had four take­aways Satur­day, has been rock-solid the last two games and has given a sput­ter­ing but ef­fec­tive of­fense time to gather it­self and strike for enough points to seal the deal. For the third straight week, quar­ter­back Sam Eh­linger was flaw­less with­out a turnover as he con­nected with ju­nior re­ceiver Collin John­son seven times for 124 yards as one of the Big 12’s most dan­ger­ous tandems.

Texas trailed USC and then scored 34 straight points to win go­ing away. Texas fell be­hind TCU 16-10 on a field goal mid­way through the third quar­ter, then roared to life with 21 unan­swered points to top­ple a team that was in last year’s Big 12 ti­tle game.

“All that does is val­i­date that we have taken an­other step,” Her­man said. “We’ve got many, many, many steps to take. I re­ally like our grit and the tenac­ity of this ball­club.”

We’ve all seen enough pos­i­tive signs turn sour, but this vic­tory over a po­tent TCU team that played Ohio State toe to toe a week ago stamps Texas as a le­git­i­mate team on the rise. It’s got stars ga­lore in prob­a­bly the league’s scari­est sec­ondary in fresh­man Caden Sterns — who had two in­ter­cep­tions Satur­day — and the phys­i­cal Bran­don Jones as well as line­backer Gary John­son and a de­fen­sive line led by the belly-rub­bing Chris Nel­son.

For a pro­gram as hun­gry as this blue blood fran­chise is, the “Eyes of Texas” sung at game’s end sounded a lit­tle more ro­bust. There’s no guar­an­tee the Longhorns won’t have more stum­bles, but these two wins are lay­ing the foun­da­tion for a Tom Her­man team that’s break­ing out.

NICK WAG­NER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Texas run­ning back Tre Wat­son tries to break free from TCU safety Ver­non Scott in Satur­day’s sur­pris­ing win.

NICK WAG­NER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

TCU coach Gary Pat­ter­son ar­gues a call dur­ing Satur­day’s loss to Texas. The Horned Frogs have dropped two in a row.

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