Sam Ehlinger threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score, and No. 11 Texas held off Kansas 24-17 on Friday to clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game.
The Longhorns opened a 24-7 lead on Cameron Dicker’s 34-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but the lowly Jayhawks responded with Peyton Bender’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Daylon Charlot and recovered the ensuing onside kick.
After Gabriel Rui made it a one-score game with a 45-yard field goal with 1:37 remaining, Kansas was unable to recover another onside kick and Texas (9-3, 7-2, No. 15 CFP) closed out its third consecutive victory.
Tre Watson finished with 79 yards on 14 carries as Texas continued its strong second season under coach Tom Herman.
Ehlinger threw two interceptions, but he made enough plays to get another win. The Longhorns had a 98-yard drive on their first possession that ended with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ehlinger to Collin Johnson.
Texas’ offense struggled for much of the first half, and then got back on track in the third quarter. Watson’s 31-yard run helped set up Andrew Beck’s 5-yard touchdown reception, and Ehlinger’s 3-yard TD run made it 21-0 with 1:02 left.
Kansas (3-9, 1-8) dropped its last four games in David Beaty’s final season as Jayhawks coach. Les Miles was hired Sunday to replace Beaty.
Pooka Williams Jr. had 18 carries for 103 yards for Kansas, including a 57-yard touchdown run in the fourth. Bender was 18 for 35 for 159 yards.
Texas: It was a sweet day for the Longhorns after its 2016 loss at Memorial Stadium ended a string of 13 consecutive wins over the Jayhawks, likely sealed the fate of embattled coach Charlie Strong and ultimately led to Herman’s hiring away from Houston.
Kansas: Fails to send Beaty off with a win, capping another losing season.
Texas: Will face the winner of Friday night’s showdown between No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 12 West Virginia in the Big 12 championship.
Kansas: The Miles era begins in earnest.
Source: The Associated Press