AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The cheers of “Texas Fight!” had likely never sounded louder, and the postgame singing of the “Eyes of Texas” had never sounded sweeter.
At least not for Texas coach Tom Herman and this group of Longhorns.
Texas gave Herman his biggest win in burnt orange and got one of the program’s biggest victories in years Saturday night, a 37-14 romp over No. 22 Southern California that saw Texas rally early, dominate late and smother the Trojans after the first quarter.
“I ain’t gonna lie: I feel like we kinda proved that we’re back,” Texas cornerback Kris Boyd said. “But it’s just the beginning.”
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, and Anthony Wheeler returned a blocked field goal 46 yards for a score. The Longhorns trailed 14-3 in the first quarter before shutting down freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels and scoring 34 unanswered points.
The win could be a huge boost for a Texas (2-1) program that desperately needs one after eight years without a Big 12 title and a run of bad seasons. Herman is 9-7 with the Longhorns and got this win in front of an energized school-record crowd of 103,507 that stayed to the end and kept up deafening chants of “Texas Fight!”
“There is a bit of release, a bit of a hump that we got over that we can win a big game. Not just come close, but win,” Herman said. “We’ll evaluate where this win stands by how we respond to it, how we play the rest of the season.”
Ehlinger threw touchdown strikes of 47 yards to Lil’Jordan Humphrey and 27 yards to Joshua Moore. Wheeler’s scoop and score came in the third quarter after Texas blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt. The touchdown put the Longhorns up 30-14.
Daniels passed for 322 yards, but the Trojans (1-2) were held to minus-5 yards rushing. Texas made USC one-dimensional and turned its defense loose, USC coach Clay Helton said.
“They wanted to see what J.T. could do in the passing game and forced our hand,” Helton said.
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