AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sam Ehlinger ran for a touchdown and passed for another before leaving with a shoulder injury, and No. 13 Texas smothered Iowa State freshman quarterback Brock Purdy in a 24-10 victory Saturday night that pushed the Longhorns closer to a berth in the Big 12 championship game.
Texas (8-3, 6-2, No. 15 CFP) is in second place in the Big 12 and on track to play in the league title game if it wins at Kansas next week. Texas hasn’t won the Big 12 since 2009.
Texas had given up 114 points and 1,675 yards in its previous three games. The Longhorns allowed Iowa State just 224 total yards.
Shane Buechele took over for Ehlinger after halftime and his 27-yard touchdown pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey with 36 seconds left in the third quarter put the game out of reach. Buechele was 10 of 10 for 89 yards.
The Texas defense played its best game in weeks with a mix of blitzes that chased Iowa State freshman quarterback Brock Purdy all night. The No. 18 Cyclones (6-4, 5-3, No. 16 CFP) also played the first half without running back David Montgomery, who was suspended for throwing a punch against Baylor a week earlier.
Purdy had led the Cyclones to five consecutive wins since taking over the offense, but was under constant pressure and was sacked five times. He finished with 130 yards on 10 of 23 passing.
Iowa State: The Cyclones melted under the pressure of their biggest Big 12 game in years. The game didn’t look too big for Purdy, he just didn’t have any help when he needed it. Missing Montgomery for a half was critical because it not only took him off the field in running plays, it further exposed Purdy under a relentless pass rush without him there as an outlet or a blocker.
Texas: Ehlinger’s shoulder injury will make Texas nervous. He returned to the sideline in the second half, but it’s the second time he’s had to leave a game this season after taking a hard hit on his throwing shoulder. The Longhorns at least have the luxury of having Buechele, who was the full-time starter in 2016 and part of 2017. But if he Ehlinger can’t return next week, Texas fans will remember that Buechele was the starter when Texas lost at Kansas in 2016, a defeat that pushed coach Charlie Strong out after that season.
Iowa State hosts Kansas State
Texas plays at Kansas, where the Longhorns lost in 2016, next Friday with a berth in the Big 12 title game on the line.