SAN ANTONIO — Sam Ehlinger passed for three touchdowns and ran for another, and Texas excised the frustrations of a disappointing regular season with a dominant 38-10 win over No. 12 Utah in the Alamo Bowl on Tuesday night.
After a 10-win season in 2018 set up a top-10 ranking to start 2019, Texas underwhelmed in a season the Longhorns expected to contend for the Big 12 title. Instead, they ended the year with both the offensive and defensive coordinators getting replaced.
For one game at least, Texas (8-5) wiped all that away with a bruising and convincing win over a Utah team that only a month ago was on the verge of making the College Football Playoff.
The Utes (11-3) didn’t get there after they were swamped in the Pac-12 title game by Oregon and perhaps struggled to shake off the heartbreak of what could have been.
Texas physically handled the Utes at the line of scrimmage. Longhorns linebacker Joseph Ossai had three sacks of quarterback Tyler Huntley and six total tackles for a loss.
“We knew that we were going to have to play with a greater passion and physicality than they would,” said Texas coach Tom Herman, who is 4-0 in bowls in his career with three wins in three seasons at Texas.
Texas also pounded out 231 yards on the ground against the nation’s No. 1 rush defense, which had held 10 opponents under 70 yards. Texas’ most important run came on a 31-yard burst by Ehlinger on third down on the drive that led to his 6-yard touchdown that made it 24-3 late in the third quarter. Keaontay Ingram later had a 49-yard TD burst on the sideline late in the fourth.
“Very disappointing end to a very good season,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We got outplayed, we got outcoached. It doesn’t diminish one iota what this senior class accomplished.”
Ehlinger finished with 201 yards passing. His first touchdown went to Collin Johnson, who missed six games this season because of a nagging hamstring injury. His last was to Devin Duvernay, who caught three passes for 92 yards.
“I’ll take those guys in one-on-one coverage against anybody in the country,” Ehlinger said.
Utah: The Utes delivered a dud after a season that was so good until December. Whittingham had talked about what a boost getting a 12th win would be, particularly against a name program like Texas. Now the Utes head into 2020 needing to replace nine senior starters, six on a defense that was among the best in the nation much of the season.
Texas: For the second straight year, Texas used a bowl win to pummel a team that just missed the national playoff. What it means for 2020, there’s no way to tell. Texas will have new offensive (Mike Yurcich) and defensive (Chris Ash) coordinators in what will be a pivotal year for coach Tom Herman. The Longhorns expect to return 15 starters.
Utah plays BYU in Salt Lake City on Sept. 5.
Texas hosts South Florida on Sept. 5.