AUSTIN — Texas had a lot to play for.
In the final game of the regular season, the Longhorns needed a win in order to become bowl eligible, and they wanted to collect a victory for the seniors playing their last home game.
Additionally, Texas was attempting to keep its head coach employed.
Even with everything on the line, the Longhorns failed to produce.
For the first time this season, Texas did not reach the end zone, falling to visiting TCU 31-9 to secure the program’s third consecutive losing record and put Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong’s job in serious jeopardy.
Following the performance, however, Strong admitted the players were simply overwhelmed by everything that was on the line.
“With everything we’ve been going through,” Strong said, “it was just
too must pressure placed on them. I told them that I never wanted them to make it about me. I just wanted them to go enjoy the game, have fun, don’t play tight, loosen up and go make plays.
“But they are young, and they get caught up in everything. It affects them.”
The Horned Frogs jumped out to an early 7-0 lead thanks to quarterback Kenny Hill’s 4-yard run with 9 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Texas (5-7, 3-6 Big 12) responded with a nine-play, 71-yard drive ending with senior Trent Domingue’s 21-yard field goal on its ensuing possession before pulling within a point after Mitchell Becker’s 24-yard field goal late in the first half.
But the 7-6 halftime deficit would not last long.
After the teams exchanged field goals to start the third quarter, TCU (6-5, 4-4) recorded 21 unanswered points.
“Our players on offense are frustrated because we’ve been there,” Strong said. “When you get in the game, you can’t press. You’ve got to just let it happen for you.
“That’s what we didn’t do. We kept pressing and not letting things happen.”
Texas freshman quarterback Shane Buechele, who completed 16 of 39 passes for 218 yards, agreed.
“It was just a lack of execution,” he said. “They played well in the box, and when we’re down there, we just have to pound it down there. That’s what we’ve done all year with our run game.”
The Longhorns posted 407 total yards of offense behind a 165-yard outing from D’Onta Foreman for his 13th consecutive 100-yard game, giving him 2,028 rushing yards for the season, which is the second highest total in school history.
“I can’t even put into words what it means,” the junior said. “I’m so proud. The season didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, but I’ve been blessed to be out there and to be mentioned with (guys like Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams).
“I will never deny how happy I am with that.”
Now, Texas enters its offseason with the possibility of returning next year with a new head coach and potentially without Foreman, who could be heading to the NFL after delivering a Heisman-caliber season.
Regardless of what happens, Strong hopes his 16-21 overall record at Texas is not the only thing taken into consideration.
“You know what,” he said, “if the decision has been made, it’s been made. I would like to think this game does not affect the situation.”