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Texas vs. Oklahoma State Prediction: Big 12 Rivals Face Off in Stillwater

Top-20 teams looking to stay within reach of the current conference leaders.

A year ago, the Texas Longhorns snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, blowing an 11-point lead in the second half to fall 32-24. UT will have a chance at revenge Saturday versus a banged-up OSU squad.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 8

The winner of the matchup will remain in strong contention for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. In fact, with both teams carrying just one loss so far in conference play, this could serve as a preview of the matchup at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on the first weekend in December.

Here's what to watch when the Longhorns and Cowboys play in Stillwater this weekend.

No. 20 Texas at No. 11 Oklahoma State

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ABC
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Texas -6.5
Tickets: As low as $164 on SITickets.com*

When Texas Has the Ball

The rugged Iowa State defense cooled off a Texas offense that entered their game last week as one of the most efficient groups in the country. After Quinn Ewers torched the Oklahoma defense a week earlier for 289 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception on 21-of-31 passing, the freshman phenom came back to earth against ISU. Ewers didn't bomb against the Cyclones, but Iowa State flustered him over the course of the game with its hybrid-heavy scheme.

Fortunately for the Longhorns, they still have arguably the best combo of running backs in the country. Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson combined for 206 rushing yards on 39 attempts versus ISU, as UT head coach Steve Sarkisian leaned on the duo down the stretch to put his team on top in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma State has taken a step back on defense from a year ago but continues to have one of the Big 12's most disruptive units. The Cowboys are averaging nine tackles for a loss per game, with defensive linemen Tyler Lacy, Sione Asi, Brock Martin, and Collin Oliver contributing nearly half of their stops behind the line of scrimmage. If UT wants to take advantage of OSU's middling secondary, keeping that D-line from getting into the backfield is job one.

When Oklahoma State Has the Ball

Questions about the health of quarterback Spencer Sanders ran rampant prior to OSU's game against TCU last week. Sanders played the entirety of the team's double-overtime loss to the Horned Frogs, but it clearly took a toll on him physically. The Cowboys scored just six points in the third and fourth quarters as their QB appeared to be laboring to stay in the game.

If Sanders can't play on Saturday, the QB duties go to head coach Mike Gundy's son, Gunnar. That will probably limit the Pokes' ability to generate as much production from the QB run game, which has diversified their offensive attack this year.

Sanders' probable absence means Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski may take the opportunity to come after Gundy and OSU's ground game with reckless abandon. The Longhorns have a well-balanced D this year that enables them to take chances closer to the line of scrimmage and rely on their secondary to prevent big plays down the field.

Final Analysis

Texas has been one of the more befuddling teams in college football this year. For the most part, the Longhorns have played solid football. Struggling to put away teams like Iowa State and Texas Tech, however, shows they still have a ways to go before they're taking full advantage of their edges in pure talent and athleticism over most of their foes in the Big 12.

Oklahoma State is one of the classic "more-with-less" programs that give UT fits, so, historically, this is a spot where the Longhorns would trip up. The line of 6.5 points tells the real story of this game, though: Without Sanders, the Pokes will need the Horns to commit some serious self-inflicted errors to stage an upset.

Perhaps Mike and Gunnar Gundy can channel some father-son magic into a handful of explosive plays on offense to avoid needing to manage extended drives. Even if they can, it seems likely that UT will wear down the OSU defense with Robinson and Johnson over the course of a game that is never really in doubt.

Prediction: Texas 33, Oklahoma State 24

Podcast: Week 8 Preview, Predictions, and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.

*Price as of publication.