The Opening Kickoff
• The University of Texas will represent the Big 12 Conference in the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl. The Longhorns will square off against former Big 12 foe, Missouri.
• The Texas Bowl will be played on Wednesday, Dec. 27 at NRG Stadium in Houston.
• The Longhorns finished the regular season 6-6 overall and 5-4 in conference play. The Tigers finished 7-5, winners of their final six, and 4-4 in Southeastern Conference action.
• Both schools will be making their first bowl appearance since 2014.
National Game Coverage
• The 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl will kickoff at 8 p.m. CT and is set to air on ESPN. Adam Amin (play-by-play), Dusty Dvoracek (analyst) and Molly McGrath (sideline) will call the action.
• Longhorn Network’s Texas GameDay show begins two hours prior to kickoff. Following the game, LHN will also host Texas GameDay Final with interviews and analysis.
• A Longhorn IMG Radio Network broadcast can be heard nationally on SiriusXM ESPNU Radio Channel 84.
• ESPN Radio will have a national radio broadcast of the game. Bill Rosinski (play-by-play), David Norrie (analyst) and Ian Fitzsimmons (sideline) will call the action. The ESPN Radio broadcast can be heard on SiriusXM channel 80.
The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
• The Texas Bowl began in 2006 and the 2017 version will mark its 12th game.
• Texas played Arkansas in the 2014 Texas Bowl, while Missouri’s lone appearance was a loss to Navy in 2009.
• The game will be played at Houston’s NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. The Stadium has hosted two Super Bowls – XXXVIII on Feb. 1, 2004 and LI on Feb. 5, 2017.
The All-Time Series
• Texas and Missouri meet for the 24th time in the history of the series. UT holds a 17-6 advantage all-time.
• The Longhorns have won 15 of the last 17 meetings dating back to 1931.
• The two schools played nine times as Big 12 Conference foes, with Texas winning seven of those games.
• The two schools have met once previously in a bowl game, a 40-27 Longhorn victory on Jan. 1, 1946 in the Cotton Bowl.
Longhorn Bowl History
• Texas makes its 54th all-time bowl appearance, second-most in the nation behind just Alabama. The Longhorns own a record of 27-24-2 all-time in bowl games.
• The 2017 Texas Bowl marks the 22nd time the Longhorns will play a current SEC opponent in a bowl game. UT is 12-8-1 in such games.
• This year’s bowl marks the eighth time Texas has played a bowl game in Houston. The Longhorns made six appearances in the now defunct Bluebonnet Bowl, with a record of 3-2-1.
• With the 2017 Texas Bowl, Texas makes its 37th all-time appearance in a bowl game played in the state. UT is 18-16-2 in such games, having played in the Cotton Bowl 22 times (11-10-1), Bluebonnet Bowl six times (3-2-1), Sun Bowl four times (2-2), Alamo Bowl three times (2-1) and Texas Bowl once (0-1).
Head Coach Tom Herman
• Tom Herman is in his first season at Texas and his third season overall as a head coach. He is 6-6 thus far at UT and 28-10 overall as a head coach. In just three seasons, Herman has guided his teams to a record of 7-4 against Top 25 opponents, 3-3 against Top 10 foes and 2-1 against teams inside the Top 5.
• For the third time in three seasons as a head coach, Herman’s program will appear in a bowl game. At Houston, he guided his team to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in year one and the Las Vegas Bowl a season ago.
• Herman went 22-4 in his two seasons at Houston prior to taking over the Longhorns’ program.
• In his first year at UH, Herman led the Cougars to a 13-1 record and a win in the Peach Bowl during his first season. He was just the fourth head coach in NCAA history with at least 13 wins in a rookie season (Chris Petersen, George Woodruff, Walter Camp) and just the fifth to win the first 10 games of his career (Petersen, Woodruff, Camp and Larry Coker).
• Punter Michael Dickson and safety DeShon Elliott were both named unanimous All-Americans. There have now been 22 unanimous and 60 consensus All-Americans in Texas Football history.
• The Longhorns were one of just three FBS teams with two unanimous All-Americans in 2017.
• Linebacker Malik Jefferson was named a second team All-American.
Big 12 Players of the Year
• Three Longhorns earned Player of the Year honors from the Big 12 Conference, voted on by the league’s 10 head coaches.
• Junior linebacker Malik Jefferson was named Co-Defensive Player of the Year following his 110 tackle, 10 tackle for loss and four sack regular season.
• Junior punter Michael Dickson was named Special Teams Player of the Year for the second straight season. He is leading the nation averaging 48.4 yards per punt.
• Senior defensive lineman Poona Ford was honored as the Defensive Lineman of the Year. He totaled 30 tackles and eight tackles for loss as a disruptive force on of the league’s top defenses.
All-Big 12 Honors
• Four Longhorns were named first team All-Big 12: P Michael Dickson (second straight season), unanimous selection DB DeShon Elliott, DL Poona Ford and LB Malik Jefferson.
• DB Kris Boyd earned second team honors, as well, from the Associated Press.
• Three more received honorable mention: DL Breckyn Hager, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey and OL Patrick Vahe. DeShon Elliott received honorable mention as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
• Fourteen Longhorns earned Academic All-Big 12 honors. First teamers (3.20+ GPA) included P Michael Dickson, WR Devin Duvernay, DS Jak Holbrook, DL Chris Nelson and RB Kyle Porter. Second teamers (3.00-3.19 GPA) were QB Shane Buechele, OL Garrett Graf, TE Garrett Gray, LB Jeffrey McCulloch, OL Jake McMillon, OL Zach Shackelford, DL Gerald Wilbon, OL Connor Williams and TE Robert Willis.
• Deep snapper Jak Holbrook was also honored as a member of the CoSIDA Academic All-District 7 team.
• Punter Michael Dickson was named the Big 12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
First Time Starters
• Thirteen Longhorns have made their first career start this season: TE Cade Brewer, RB Toneil Carter, OL Terrell Cuney, QB Sam Ehlinger, TE Garrett Gray, WR Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey, LB Gary Johnson, OL Derek Kerstetter, TE Kendall Moore, OL Denzel Okafor, RB Kyle Porter and RB Daniel Young.
First Time Players
• Twenty-eight Longhorns have made their first career appearances, including eight true freshmen (marked *) and seven redshirt freshmen (marked ^).
• Maryland: LB Marqez Bimage*, TE Cade Brewer*, LB Demarco Boyd^, DL Jamari Chisholm, DL Ta’Quon Graham*, WR Reggie Hemphill-Mapps^, OL Patrick Hudson^, LB Gary Johnson, K Joshua Rowland, DS Kaleb Smith, DB Josh Thompson* and RB Daniel Young*
• San Jose State: OL Austin Allsup, RB Toneil Carter*, QB Josh Covey, DB Jarmarquis Durst, QB Sam Ehlinger*, TE Kendall Moore and OL J.P. Urquidez^
• USC: DB Chris Brown^
• Iowa State: OL Derek Kerstetter*
• Baylor: WR Davion Curtis^, DB Donovan Duvernay^, WR Philipp Moeller
• Kansas: RB Trenton Hafley, TE Robert Willis, TE Michael Wilson, RB Tim Yoder
Youth Is Served
• Texas’ youth has shined through in the starting lineup this season. UT’s last two recruiting classes (true/redshirt freshmen and true sophomores) have combined to make 76 starts this season, including 62 on the offensive side of the ball.
• At QB, sophomore Shane Buechele and true freshman Sam Ehlinger each started six games.
• At RB, true freshman Daniel Young started the last four games, while sophomore Kyle Porter (three) and true freshman Toneil Carter (two) also started.
• At WR, sophomores Collin Johnson (eight) and Lil’Jordan Humphrey (seven) led the way, while redshirt freshman Reggie Hemphill-Mapps (two) and sophomore Devin Duvernay (one) made starts.
• True freshman TE Cade Brewer made three starts.
• On the offensive line, true freshman Derek Kerstetter has started nine games at right tackle, sophomore Zach Shackelford has started seven games at center and sophomore Denzel Okafor has started four at left tackle.
• On defense, sophomore Brandon Jones started 11 games at safety while sophomore Malcolm Roach has started three at defensive end.
• Texas is tied for the national lead with seven non-offensive touchdowns after scoring none in 2016.
• Holton Hill had three of them: interception returns of 45 (SJSU) and 31 yards (Maryland) and a blocked field goal return of 65 yards for a score against Maryland.
• DeShon Elliott had two: interception returns of 43 (at Baylor) and 38 (at USC) yards.
• Antwuan Davis returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown against Kansas.
• Reggie Hemphill-Mapps also had one, returning a punt 91 yards to the house against Maryland.
• The season opener against Maryland marked the first time since Oct. 10, 2009, that UT had scored three non-offensive TDs in a game.
• UT’s seven non-offensive touchdowns are more than the 2014-16 seasons combined and the most since the 2009 team that played for a national championship.
• Texas’ defense gained 22 turnovers during the regular season, good for 26th-most in the country and second-most in the Big 12 Conference.
• The Longhorns had 15 interceptions, 18th-most nationally and also second-most in the conference.
• UT had a turnover margin of plus-four on the season.
• Texas forced a season-high four turnovers in a win over Kansas.
• The Longhorns had three turnovers in wins over Iowa State and Baylor, and forced at least two turnovers in seven games this year.
Going The Other Way
• Through 12 games, Texas has returned five interceptions for a touchdown. That mark is tied for the most in the country with Wisconsin and also ties a school record, done previously in both 1987 and 2000.
• DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill each returned two interceptions for a touchdown in 2017, while Antwuan Davis had one.
• Hill started the season off with one each against Maryland and San Jose State.
• For a third straight game, a Longhorn returned an interception for a TD as DeShon Elliott returned one 38 yards to the house at Southern California.
• At Baylor, Elliott intercepted one on the third play of the game and returned it 43 yards to the end zone.
• Against Kansas, Davis intercepted his first career pass and took it 16 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
Points Off Turnovers
• One of the Longhorns’ biggest areas of improvement in 2017 has come in its quick change offense and defense following turnovers.
• Through 12 games, Texas has allowed opponents to score just 24 points off 18 Longhorn turnovers (seven of them coming on a pick-six at WVU). In contrast, Texas has scored 96 points off 22 turnovers forced thus far.
• In comparison, last season, UT’s defense allowed opponents to score 68 points off 23 Longhorn turnovers, while the offense scored just 41 points all season off 20 opponent turnovers.
Pedigree For Success
• Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is in his third season under Tom Herman and his 13th straight season as a defensive coordinator. He has found success at each of his four previous stops as the DC: UConn (2005-10), FIU (2011-12), Utah State (2013-14) and Houston (2015-16).
• Texas ranks fourth nationally in third-down defense (.276) as opposed to 51st nationally (.383) a season ago. UT is ranked eighth in fourth-down defense (.300) after finishing 52nd in 2016 and allowing opponents to convert 47.1 percent.
• Five Longhorn opponents in 2017 rank inside the Top 17 nationally for total offense, including No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Oklahoma State. The Longhorns rank 42nd in total defense and sixth in rushing defense. That marks a drastic improvement from a season ago when UT was 94th in total defense and 76th in rushing defense.
• Against a schedule where seven opponents rank in the Top 36 nationally in scoring, the Longhorns rank 31st in scoring defense, a large jump from last season when they ranked 90th.
• The Longhorns lead the Big 12 in third-down defense, fourth-down defense, defensive touchdowns and first downs defense while ranking second in interceptions, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks, total defense and turnovers gained.
• The 2017 Texas defense became the first in the Big 12 since 2006 to hold every conference opponent under 30 points in regulation. Overall, dating back to the league’s inception in 1996, UT is the 10th team to accomplish that feat. The Longhorns’ 2001 and 2005 defenses also did so.
• Orlando’s unit leads the nation in defensive touchdowns (6) after the Longhorns did not have any last season. They also lead the nation in interceptions returned for a touchdown (5), tying a school record.
• In his first season at UH, his defense led the nation with 35 takeaways, while finishing eighth nationally in rushing defense (108.9 ypg) and 20th in scoring defense (20.7 ppg). Last season, Orlando’s defense finished 13th in total defense and fourth in rush defense. They were also third nationally with five defensive touchdowns and allowed just 23.5 ppg.
Rushing Defense Is Stout
• Texas’ rush defense has been stout, ranking sixth nationally and surrendering just 105.7 yards per game. Over the last 11 games, UT has allowed just 91.4 rushing yards per game.
• For the seventh time this season, Texas held an opponent under 100 yards rushing when it held Texas Tech to just 62 yards on the ground.
• The Longhorns held five of their nine Big 12 opponents under 100 yards rushing, including four of the final five, and each of the last three.
• The three-game stretch to end the season marked the second such three-game stretch of the season. The Longhorns also held SJSU, USC and Iowa State under 100 yards rushing in three consecutive games. That stretch marked the first time since the first three games of the 2010 season that a UT defense had accomplished that feat.
• Texas has held seven opponents under 100 yards rushing this season, the most since doing so 10 times during their run to the National Championship Game in 2009. Combined from 2012-16, UT held just six opponents under 100 yards rushing.
Stopping Potent Offenses
• Texas played against seven of the nation’s Top 36 scoring offenses in 2017, holding six of their 12 opponents to season-low scoring outputs.
• UT held the nation’s No. 3 offense Oklahoma State to 13 points (10 in regulation). The Cowboys averaged 46.3 ppg and their next lowest output this season being 31 points.
• Texas held Oklahoma (44.9 ppg, 4th) to a season-low 29 points in the AT&T Red River Showdown.
• The Longhorns held WVU to a season-low 14 points. The Mountaineers are 19th nationally, averaging 36.3 points per game.
• UT held USC (34.5 ppg, 24th) to just 17 points in regulation, and 27 total, in its double-overtime loss.
• The Longhorns also held Iowa State (17-7 win), Baylor (38-7 win) and San Jose State (56-0 win) to season lows.
• In total, Texas held nine of their 12 opponents under their season averages, and a 10th, Kansas State, before the Wildcats’ touchdown in overtime.
Getting Off The Field
• The Texas defense has been successful at getting the opponents’ offense off the field this season and limiting their opportunities to score points.
• The Longhorns are allowing opponents to convert just 51-of-185 (.276) attempts on third down, fourth-best nationally. UT also ranks eighth nationally in fourth-down defense, having allowed opponents to convert just 6-of-20 (.300) attempts.
• Between third- and fourth-down attempts in 2017, the Longhorn defense has allowed opponents to convert just 57-of-205 (.278) attempts.
• This has been quite a turnaround from 2016, when the Longhorns allowed opponents to convert 72-of-189 (.381) attempts on third down and 8-of-17 (.471) on fourth downs.
Built Ford Tough
• Nose tackle Poona Ford was named the Big 12 Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year, and was also named a first team All-Big 12 performer.
• He has been an integral part of the Longhorns’ stout rushing defense, starting all 12 games at defensive tackle.
• He has totaled 30 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks to go along with one quarterback hurry, pass breakup, forced fumble and field goal block.
• Ford had four games this season with multiple tackles for loss: 2.5, Oklahoma State; 2.0, Kansas; 2.0, Texas Tech; 1.5, at TCU
• He registered multiple knockbacks in all but one game, including a season-high five against Kansas State.
• Despite playing on the interior defensive line, Ford finished fourth among UT defenders with his 54 tackles a year ago. He added 5.5 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two blocked extra points.
• He was named second-team All-Big 12 by ESPN.com and was also tabbed honorable mention All-Big 12 by the league’s coaches.
Dickson Garners Postseason Honors
• Junior punter Michael Dickson, a native of Sydney, Australia, was named a unanimous All-American, one of just 22 Longhorns to ever earn that distinction, and the first punter to do so.
• He also became UT’s first-ever winner of the prestigious Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation’s top punter. He was a finalist for the award in 2016.
• Dickson was honored as the Big 12 Conference Special Teams Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2017, and also recognized with first team All-Big 12 honors both seasons.
• He was also named the Big 12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year this season.
• Dickson leads the nation averaging 48.4 yards per punt in 2017. His net average of 44.7 yards per punt is also tops in the country.
• He has punted 73 times this season, with 34 punts of more than 50 yards, 14 of more than 60 yards and a career-long 76-yard punt against TCU. That punt was the fifth-longest in the country this season, and was also tied for the fifth-longest in school history.
• Of his 73 punts, 32 of them have been downed inside the 20-yard line, 27 downed inside the 15, 14 downed inside the 10 and six downed inside the opponents’ five-yard line.
• Just 15 of Dickson’s 73 punts have been under 40 yards this season. Of those 15 punts, seven have been fair caught or downed inside the 10-yard line with an additional punt fair caught at the opponents’ 12-yard line. In comparison, he has had 26 punts with a net average of more than 50 yards and nine with a net average of more than 60 yards.
• Just 17 of his punts have been returned this season, with nine of those for three yards or less and five of them having gone for negative yardage.
• Dickson, who set a school record with an average of 47.4 yards per punt in 2016, has averaged more than 45 yards per punt in 9-of-12 games this season, while averaging more than 50 yards on six occasions.
• Dickson was twice named Ray Guy Award National Punter of the Week, following both his performances at Iowa State and versus Oklahoma.
• Against Iowa State, he punted seven times with a net average of 46.2 yards while against Oklahoma he punted five times and averaged a school-record-tying 55.0 yards per punt.
• Dickson owns seven of the top 12 single-game punting performances (min. 5 attempts) in school history.
• He is currently chasing the FBS record for punting average in a season, which stands at 48.4 yards (min. 50 attempts) and 47.8 yards (min. 75 punts).
Jefferson Leading the Longhorn D
• Junior linebacker Malik Jefferson was named the Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-Big 12 and a second team All-American in 2017.
• On the season, he leads the team with 110 tackles, including 79 solo stops. He also has gotten after the quarterback, with team highs of 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and six quarterback hurries.
• Jefferson became the first Longhorn since 2014 (Jordan Hicks, 147; Steve Edmond, 131) to reach the 100-tackle mark in a season.
• With one more solo tackle, to reach 80 on the season, Jefferson could become just the second Longhorn since 1996 to reach 80 solo stops in a season (Steve Edmond, 81, 2014).
• He has registered six games this season of double-digit tackle totals and has led the team, or tied for the team lead in tackles, in 9-of-12 games.
Buechele By The Numbers
• Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele started six games this season and has made 18 career starts to date.
• In making six starts and eight total appearances so far in 2017, Buechele is 131-of-199 (.658) for 1,350 yards and six touchdowns.
• Buechele surpassed 1,000 yards on the season at TCU. He is tied for the eighth-fastest player in school history (five games) to reach 1,000 yards in a season. He also reached 1,000 yards in five games a season ago.
• In his first start of the season against Maryland, he was 34-of-52 for 375 yards and two touchdowns. He set new career highs for passing yards, completions and attempts in that game.
• His 375 yards passing were 11th-most in school history for a single game and the second-most by a sophomore (Chris Simms, 383).
• Buechele has now passed for 200 yards in 14 career games and has two career 300-yard games. His fourteen 200-yard games are the sixth-most in school history.
• In 20 games, he has passed for 4,308 yards, just the ninth player in school history to surpass 4,000 career passing yards.
• Buechele has thrown a touchdown pass in 16-of-20 games and has eight career multi-touchdown games.
Spreading The Ball Around
• Eight times this season, 10-or-more players have caught at least one pass in a game, including each of the last six games. Prior to the 2017 season, 10-or-more players had caught a pass in a game just nine total times since 2000, a span of 213 games.
Ehlinger’s Got Game
• True freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger has started six games and played in eight total this season. He made his first career start against SJSU, becoming just the fourth true freshman at UT since 1980, and the 10th ever, to start a game at quarterback.
• In combination with Shane Buechele, the 2016-17 seasons mark just the second stretch in school history in which a true freshman has started at QB for UT in consecutive seasons (also 1976-79).
• Ehlinger has passed for 1,803 yards while rushing for another 368. He could become the first Longhorn since Colt McCoy in 2008 to lead the team in both passing and rushing in a season.
• Ehlinger is tied for fastest in school history to reach 1,000 passing yards (four games) in a season.
• After passing for 380 yards and rushing for 107 against K-State, he passed for 278 and rushed for 110 against Oklahoma. He became the first freshman QB in school history (true or redshirt) to rush for 100 yards in consecutive games, and just the third freshman QB to do so twice in a season (Vince Young, ’03; Jerrod Heard, ’15).
• His 278 passing yards against Oklahoma were a UT true freshman record in the Red River Showdown. He was just UT’s third-ever true freshman to start at QB against the Sooners, joining Buechele (2016) and Bobby Layne (1944). In that game, Ehlinger became just the fourth player (seventh time) to pass for 275 yards and rush for 100 in a game. He joins Vince Young (Nov. 6 & 13, 2004) as the only players in school history to do so in back-to-back games. Colt McCoy, Ehlinger and Young are the only three players to have two games of 275 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in their careers.
• His 380 passing yards against K-State were the 10th-most in school history and the most ever by a true freshman quarterback.
• Ehlinger has passed for 200 yards in six games (all six that he has started) and has gone over 300 yards once. He has at least one touchdown pass in 7-of-8 games and has three multi-TD games.
Spreading The Ball Around, Part II
• Seventeen Longhorns caught a pass this season, with 10 of them reaching double-digits in receptions. The last time more Longhorns caught a pass in a season came in 2012, when 18 players did so.
Passing The Test
• Six different Longhorns attempted a pass this season. In addition to QBs Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger, WR John Burt, WR Jerrod Heard, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey and RB Chris Warren III attempted a pass. The last time more Longhorns attempted a pass in a season was 2011, when seven players did so.
• Wide Receivers Armanti Foreman (senior) and Collin Johnson (sophomore) eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in career receiving yards late in the regular season.
• Foreman has 82 career catches for 1,051 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has caught 27 passes for 261 yards and four scores this season.
• Johnson has 79 career receptions for 1,040 yards and five touchdowns. He has 51 catches for 725 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Freshman Class Chasing History
• True freshmen Sam Ehlinger and Daniel Young enter as the Longhorns’ top two rushers. One of them is looking to become the first true freshman to lead UT in rushing since Johnathan Gray in 2012.
• The last time two newcomers were UT’s top two rushers was in 1995, when Blinn transfer Shon Mitchell and true freshman Ricky Williams paced the Longhorns.
• The last time two freshmen were Texas’ top two rushers was in 1990, when Butch Hadnot and Phil Brown led the way.
• Texas played three overtime games in 2017 (1-2), including two double-overtime games (at USC, Kansas State). UT has now played seven (3-4) overtime games in school history.
• Prior to the 2016 season, Texas had played just two overtime games since the overtime rule began in college football.
• In 2016, the Longhorns went 1-1 in overtime games, defeating Notre Dame in double overtime.
• The Longhorns are 2-1 in overtime games played at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium.
The Longhorns and NRG Stadium
• The Texas Bowl will mark the sixth appearance for the Longhorns at NRG Stadium. The Longhorns are 4-1 all-time.
• They first played at the stadium in 2003, defeating Rice at then Reliant Stadium, 48-7. They’ve also played the Owls there in 2006 and 2010.
• UT beat Colorado 70-3 in the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game.
• The Longhorns were defeated by Arkansas in the 2014 Texas Bowl.
Source: Daily Texas Online
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