The Texas Longhorns won their first bowl game in five years by beating former Big 12 Conference foe Missouri in a 33-16 victory in the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl on Wednesday night at NRG Stadium.
The Missouri Tigers (7-6), who left the Big 12 Conference for the SEC in 2012, spent the entire game behind and the Longhorns (7-6) ended their first year under head coach Tom Herman on a bright note.
For both teams, it was their first bowl appearance since 2014.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 112 yards, going 11-for-15 and throwing one touchdown.
Texas quarterback Shane Buechele added 55 yards passing, going 6-for-14.
Running back Daniel Young had 48 yards rushing on 12 carries for the Longhorns while running back Kyle Porter had 11 carries for 30 yards.
Young also had 64 yards of receiving from three receptions and one touchdown.
For the Tigers, quarterback Drew Lock went 18-of-34 passes for 269 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
Running back Larry Rountree had 14 carries for 74 yards.
Wide receiver Jonathon Johnson had three receptions for 85 yards.
The Missouri defense was penalized three times on the Longhorns’ first drive, which resulted in a 22-yard touchdown pass to Young just two minutes into the game.
In the first 6 minutes of the game, the Tigers were penalized five times for 49 yards.
Ehlinger connected with a wide-open Young on a 42-yard pass, going all the way to the Missouri 13-yard line at the start of a Texas drive at the 4:37 mark in the first quarter.
Two plays later, Ehlinger found wide receiver John Burt in the corner of the end zone on a 7-yard touchdown pass to double the Longhorns’ lead.
In the first quarter alone, Missouri only mustered 61 yards of total offense to UT’s 110.
The Tigers began the second quarter with their best field position of the game, thus far, at midfield and marching down the field in five plays to get on the board after a 4-yard run from running back Ish Witter.
But Missouri’s offense continued to struggle after a fumble was forced by P.J. Locke III and Anthony Wheeler returned the ball for a 38-yard touchdown run with 7:47 remaining in the second quarter.
It was the Longhorns’ eighth non-offensive touchdown of the season after not registering any in 2016.
The Tigers, again, turned the ball over after Davante Davis forced the ball out of the hands of tight end Al Okwuegbunam on the next drive and defensive end Breckyn Hager recovered at the Texas 44-yard line.
However, the Longhorns couldn’t add more to their advantage before the end of the half and led 21-7 at the break.
It only took one play at the start of the second half for the Tigers to get going, scoring on a 79-yard touchdown pass from Lock to Johnson.
Pinned at their own 2-yard line, the Tigers managed to drive 87 yards in 16 plays to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Tucker McCann to narrow the deficit with 2:44 left in the third.
But if the Longhorns couldn’t do it on offense, their defense and special teams did.
After Texas punter Michael Dickson’s 58-yard punt placed the Tigers at their own 10, the Tigers’ snap went through the end zone for a safety late in the third.
A 41-yard field goal by Joshua Rowland gave the Longhorns a 10-point lead with 12:15 remaining.
With time ticking away for the Tigers, the Longhorns’ special teams continued to shine as Dickson’s 34-yard punt was downed at the Missouri 4-yard line with 3:20 left.
Davante Davis picked off Lock just two plays later to ice the game.
UT added a late touchdown on an 18-yard run from Texas City grad Armanti Foreman from 18 yards out.