Texas' journey to a Big 12 title took another step in the right direction Saturday with a 35-13 win over Kansas. But not without the Longhorns stumbling ever so slightly along the way.
Texas didn't need to do much to beat the Jayhawks, who still haven't won a conference game since 2010. All it had to do was continue to play sound defense against one of the worst offenses in the Big 12 and lean on the running game.
The 'Horns got results from both.
Holding on to a 14-6 lead in the third quarter and needing a spark, Texas defensive tackle Chris Whaley scooped up a forced fumble and rumbled 40 yards for a touchdown. It was his second score on the year—his first also came on a scoop and score against Oklahoma—which gives him more touchdowns than wide receivers Jaxon Shipley and Kendall Sanders combined.
Whaley's touchdown provided the lift Texas so desperately needed. Running back Malcolm Brown took care of the rest.
Brown, who had four total touchdowns heading into Week 10, matched that number against the Jayhawks. The junior carried the ball 20 times for 119 yards and four scores.
Longhorns with 100 Rush yards & 4 Rush TD in last 10 seasons: '12 Bergeron, '04 Benson, VY twice and now Malcolm Brown today.— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) November 2, 2013
Not too shabby for the guy who has mostly served as a complement to Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron. On a day when Gray was somewhat limited (18 carries for 68 yards) and quarterback Case McCoy was average (196 yards and two interceptions), Brown had his turn to shine.
Kansas' rushing defense gives up about 200 yards a game, so it isn't anything stout, but having a player step up when the usual suspects are a bit off their game is the sign of a complete team. After starting 1-2, few teams in the Big 12 look more complete than Texas does heading into the heart of conference action.
Brown has slowly become a bigger part of Texas' offense over the past several weeks. He rushed for 120 yards against Oklahoma and has accounted for roughly 82 percent of his yards on the season over the past three games.
Gray understandably gets a lot of the publicity—he's one of the best running backs in the Big 12—but don't forget that Brown has talent too. Like Gray, Brown was considered one of the best prospects in the country coming out of high school.
He's showing why so many schools were interested in him.
Brown will have an opportunity to finish the year strong against teams like Texas Tech and Baylor, which have shown vulnerability against the run.
By year's end, Brown could be mentioned in the same breath as Gray—and maybe as one of the better running backs in the conference.