The Texas Longhorns travel to Stillwater this weekend riding a three-game losing streak to the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Last year, OSU stole away from Austin with an overtime win, adding to the revenge angle for the Longhorns this time around.
With an unblemished record in Big 12 play so far, Texas probably won’t need motivational ploys. The Cowboys, on the other hand, need whatever help they can get after starting the conference slate 1-3. Head coach Mike Gundy will be pushing every button he can leading up to this game.
Whatever the outcome, expect a charged atmosphere for homecoming at Boone Pickens Stadium. The Pokes are breaking out throwback uniforms to honor the 30th anniversary of OSU’s 1988 squad and running back Barry Sanders’ Heisman Trophy-winning season.
Texas at Oklahoma State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Texas -3.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Texas’ QB protection
After a shaky start to the season, UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger has played somewhere between steady and spectacular. However, a shoulder injury has raised the possibility that he won’t be available Saturday night. That means backup Shane Buechele could end up running the Longhorns' offense again.
Either way, UT can’t allow OSU’s pass rush to beat up Ehlinger or to harass Buechele. The Cowboys currently lead the country in sacks with 30 in seven games, and they will be coming for UT’s QBs in waves.
2. New wrinkles
Both squads had an open date last week, allowing the coaching staffs to scheme up some surprises for each other. The growing desperation around Stillwater could prompt OSU’s coaches to get especially funky.
3. Watch out for the Wolf
Oklahoma State QB Taylor Cornelius has thrown eight interceptions through seven games, one fewer than Mason Rudolph threw for the Cowboys in all of 2017. That abysmal ball protection is contributing to growing calls for Gundy to sit the fifth-year senior.
Cornelius better keep an eye out for freshman safety Caden Sterns lurking around the back end of UT’s defense. With apologies to Harvey Keitel, Sterns has rightfully earned the nickname the “Wolf” for his ability to lie in wait and snatch away ill-advised throws. The rookie DB has already picked off four passes this year, which ties him for second in the country.
At 6-1 overall and 4-0 in Big 12 play, Texas seems to be leading a charmed life. The Longhorns are 4-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer and have enjoyed a plus-eight turnover margin in their last six contests. Those things have a tendency to even out over the course of a season, so it would be in UT’s best interest to take its play up a notch in its remaining games.
Can Oklahoma State take the ‘Horns down a peg? If the team that took the field in the Pokes’ previous two games this year shows up, no chance. Yet, given that Mike Gundy and his staff had the benefit of an open date last week to tinker with things, expect a better showing in front a raucous primetime crowd.
UT’s defense has shown a susceptibility to giving up big plays this season, and OSU has the offensive skill players to capitalize. Look for the OSU defense to force a handful of mistakes from the Texas QBs and pave the way for a minor upset.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 27, Texas 24
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.