TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Texas went “Horns Up” on Alabama with a convincing 34-24 victory in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night.
“When we prepare the way we prepare, we’re hard to stop,” said Longhorns star quarterback Quinn Ewers, who was 24-of-38 for 349 yards and three touchdowns.
“We knew this whole week …. we were going to ball out and try to make them quit,” Ewers said.
Georgia transfer Adonai Mitchell had two touchdown receptions for Texas while another ex-Bulldog, Jermaine Burton, had one for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama coach Nick Saban warned his team earlier this week to be prepared for a “street fight,” unaware it would be his celebrated secondary left beaten and battered.
“All the plays that they made were all explosive plays, and that was the difference,” said Saban, whose No. 3-ranked Crimson Tide (1-1) entered the night a touchdown favorite over the No. 11 Longhorns (2-0).
“They took a lot of shots in the game, and they made them. That’s how they play, and it’s a good way to play.”
Saban knows that better than anyone, having watched Texas coach Steve Sarkisian operate in the same fashion while working as the Tide’s offensive coordinator in 2019 and then 2020 College Football Playoff title season.
“The biggest thing,” Sarkisian said, “is that we were going to be aggressive with anything we did.”
That included defense. Texas sacked Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe five times and harassed him into two interceptions.
Milroe, making his third career start, was 14-of-27 passing for 255 yards with two touchdowns, along with being credited with 15 carries for 44 yards.
The Longhorns snapped what had been the nation’s longest home win streak (21 games) by connecting on six passes longer than 30 yards, the final one, a 39-yard bomb to Mitchell, closed the scoring with 8:23 remaining.
Texas took a 13-6 halftime lead, with Ewers lofting a rainbow pass that Xavier Worthy raced beneath for a 44-yard score and the lone touchdown of the first half.
Alabama led only briefly in the game when Burton reeled in a 49-yard touchdown catch with 49 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Tide a 16-13 lead.
Texas, however, was back on top 27-16 less than 1 1/2 minutes later.
The Longhorns needing only three plays to reclaim the lead after Burton’s score.
Texas pierced an Alabama defense coordinated by veteran Kevin Steele on the ensuing series when Ja’Tavion Sanders took an Ewers’ pass 50 yards to the Alabama 7. Ewers connected with Mitchell for a touchdown on the next play.
Milroe, on the first play of the next drive, had a pass intercepted at the Tide’s 37 and returned 32 yards to the 5.
One play later, Texas tailback Jonathan Brooks exploded up the middle and into the end zone for a 27-16 lead.
The Longhorns, who have just one 10-win season among their past 13, do indeed appear on their way to being back.
The Alabama dynasty, meanwhile, is shaken.
It was the most lopsided home loss of Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa, and the defeat snapped the Tide’s streak of 57 consecutive non-conference regular-season victories dating back to 2007.
The contest had been billed as the biggest game in Bryant-Denny since Joe Burrow led a No. 1-ranked LSU team to a 46-41 victory over a No. 8-ranked Alabama team.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey made the drive over from the conference office in Birmingham to attend.
“Tonight is about our future, and this is pretty cool,” Sankey said, referring to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC in 2024. “We had an opportunity, we had two universities interested in a new affiliation.
“What we decided was it was the right opportunity, and it keeps the connection to our region and our fans, and that’s the right platform.”
Oklahoma has four CFP appearances under its belt and appears to have righted itself this season after a 6-7 campaign in 2022.
Texas, meanwhile, seems ready to make itself at home in the SEC after spending this final season in the Big 12.
The Longhorns should make a significant jump in the polls on Sunday before playing host to Wyoming at 8 p.m. next Saturday.
Alabama returns to action with its first road trip of the season, traveling to Tampa to face South Florida at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Tide opens the SEC portion of its schedule the following week at home against No. 20 Ole Miss, a 37-20 winner over No. 24 Tulane on Saturday.
Saban, now 28-3 against former assistants, will be up against yet another one of his offensive coordinators in Lane Kiffin.