AUSTIN, Tex. (ABC4 Sports) – If BYU was going to upset 7th-ranked Texas, the Cougars would have to play a near perfect game on the road.
The Cougars were far from perfect.
Backup quarterback Maalik Murphy threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as starting quarterback in a 35-6 blowout win over BYU on Saturday.
Murphy, a redshirt freshman, replaced Quinn Ewers, who was sidelined with an injury to his throwing shoulder sustained in last week’s win at Houston. He completed 16 of 25 passes.
Before facing BYU, Murphy threw eight passes this season, completing four for 47 yards. He didn’t have a touchdown pass or interception.
“When you’re playing against great teams, you can’t make the amount of mistakes we made and hope to get a victory out of that,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We created some turnovers, we had an opportunity to be in the red zone, and had a penalty bring it back. It’s just little things like that that teach our guys to be a little more disciplined.”
The Longhorns’ Xavier Worthy opened the scoring, returning a punt 74 yards for a TD.
Jonathon Brooks, one of the top rushers in the nation, gained 98 yards for Texas (7-1, 4-1) and added 40 more receiving.
BYU quarterback Kedon Slovis had a rough day, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. All three of the turnovers led to Texas touchdowns. Slovis finished 24 for 39 for 197 yards passing.
“I think at times we had a lot of success,” Slovis said. “I don’t think the score necessarily reflects, you know, we were in the game late with a chance. Kind of just one play in a drive that killed us. Really it’s execution. They’re a good team, and that makes execution harder when they’re a really good team.”
Sitake was asked after the game if he considered replacing Slovis in the game.
“Everybody thinks the easy answer is to get a new quarterback in there,” Sitake said. “How about let’s just protect for him first, and give him a chance? When he’s getting hit, that’s not his fault.”
The second interception, by former walk-on safety Michael Taaffe, was returned 45 yards and set up a second Murphy-to-Mitchell touchdown pass, this time for 13 yards.
Slovis’ lost fumble set up a 34-yard TD run by Longhorns reserve running back Jaydon Blue in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars managed to win three times this season while getting outgained by between 112 and 202 yards. One reason for that was an edge in turnover margin in each of those games, including 5-0 against Texas Tech last week. BYU ranked third nationally in turnover margin and fifth in turnovers gained. The Cougars lost on both fronts against Texas. They were out gained 354-292, while Texas had a 3-2 turnover margin.
Crew Wakley had an interception for the Cougars, while Isaiah Bagnah forced and recovered a fumble.
“If you just looked at the score and didn’t watch the game, it looks like we got our butts kicked more than we did, I feel like,” Wakley said. “I don’t think there’s any panic mode by any means.”
The Cougars (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) next play at West Virginia next Saturday.