The first play was an accurate measuring stick for how the rest of the game would turn out.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger fired to wide receiver Joshua Moore on a post route, and the rest was history. Moore dashed 78 yards to the end zone to put Texas in front 7-0 on the opening play from scrimmage. Much of the same was seen throughout the rest of the night in Austin, and the Longhorns (1-0) cruised to a 59-3 victory over UTEP (1-1).
The Miners struggled to pressure Ehlinger, who torched the UTEP secondary by completing 24-of-32 passes for 429 yards and five touchdowns — in the first half alone. The early-season Heisman candidate enjoyed a career-high in yards and touchdowns through just 30 minutes of game time while the Miners failed to force a single punt in the opening half.
Texas thwarted nearly everything the UTEP offense threw at it on Saturday night. After a 100-yard rushing performance in Week 1, running back Deion Hankins was stuffed for 34 yards on 11 carries. Longhorns star outside linebacker Joseph Ossai led the charge with a team-high eight tackles and an assisted stop behind the line of scrimmage. Impressively, UTEP’s offensive line — which allowed nearly three sacks per game a season ago — allowed just two sacks to a dominant Texas defense.
UTEP, 43-point underdogs, withstood the shutout in the first half. One possession after missing a 49-yard field goal, the Miners rebounded with a 46-yard drive. Kicker Gavin Baechle received a redemption opportunity from 47 yards out and he drained the long-distance attempt on fourth down. In the early third quarter, UTEP launched one more prosperous drive but the Miners kept Baechle on the sideline and elected to go for 4th and 2 on the Longhorns’ 20. The attempt failed and the Miners were shut out 14-0 in the second half under the lights.
The latter half featured plenty of repetitions for the second-stringers. With the game out of hand, UTEP’s defense forced consecutive three-and-outs to start the third quarter. Texas exchanged Ehlinger for quarterback Casey Thompson and later Hudson Card, while the Miners turned from Gavin Hardison to backup Calvin Brownholtz to finish the night.
Following up Hardison’s 12/27 performance, Brownholtz completed 7/10 passes against a primarily backup Longhorn defense. Texas held a lopsided advantage in the passing game, out-gaining the Miners 481-190 in the department. The Longhorns weren’t afraid to share the wealth either and seven different pass-catchers recorded a touchdown in their season opener.
The 56-point loss is UTEP’s worst loss since 2009 when the Miners fell 64-7 to Texas. One week after the Miners secured their first double-digit win since 2016, their luck reversed against the No. 14 team in the country. Luckily for UTEP, the next opponent on the schedule tones down to Abilene Christian and the Miners will have an opportunity to finish 2-0 against FCS programs this season.