Plenty of sore spots are carrying over from a season ago into this year’s meeting between Oklahoma State and Texas. After benefiting from a series of controversial officiating decisions, the Cowboys absconded from Austin with a win that left Longhorn fans howling.
It was consistent with a strange conference rivalry in which the visiting team has won for the last seven years. OSU is favored to end that streak, but the Cowboys are still smarting from last week’s loss to Baylor, a game the Pokes would surely like back.
Texas had a week off to reset after California’s pass-happy offense went up and down the field on the Longhorn defense. The ‘Horns have to hope that Charlie Strong’s defensive intervention prepared them for a similar test this week from OSU.
Texas at Oklahoma State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Oklahoma State -2.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Cal Test
The Golden Bears abused the UT secondary in their 50-43 victory two weeks ago with a panoply of passing routes that blew holes in the Texas D. The tandem of Cal quarterback Davis Webb and wide receiver Chad Hansen kept UT’s defenders on their heels all night, connecting 12 times for nearly 200 yards.
Oklahoma State has a comparable passing pair in QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington. Expect them to try to replicate Cal’s success somehow.
2. Protecting Shane Buechele
Buechele has played a big part in Texas’ offensive rejuvenation under offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert. As a freshman, however, his lack of time in the weight room means he’s still on the smaller side. He already suffered a chest injury against Cal that kept him out of action for a noticeable stretch in the game.
OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will probably send Cowboy rushers after Texas’ freshman signal-caller pretty frequently. UT’s offensive line is facing the additional task of keeping Buechele safe while missing suspended starter Kent Perkins at guard.
3. Stopping Texas on the Ground
UT’s newfound appreciation for the passing game is getting the headlines, but the Longhorns rely on two punishing running backs to help keep the offense on schedule. The combination of Chris Warren and D’Onta Foreman can hammer away between the tackles at stretched out defenses trying to cover Texas’ wideouts. If OSU can’t balance its strategy to slow both part of Texas’ offense, the Cowboys are in for a long afternoon.
It’s tough to find a good angle between these two well-matched squads. If this were Texas’ first road game of the year, it might put such a young team at a disadvantage. It’s not, though, so there’s no reason to think the Longhorns will be rattled by the hostile environment.
Ultimately, this game will test Strong’s reputation for scheming and teaching on D. By taking a more active role in overseeing the defense for the last two weeks, Strong won’t have any fall guys if the Longhorns can’t keep OSU in check.
The bet here is that Texas’ head coach has made just enough tweaks to force a couple decisive plays when OSU has the ball. Meanwhile, quarterback Shane Buechele could have a big day throwing the ball out wide to his speedy receivers, which would force sound tackling on the part of the Cowboys.
A road win will give Texas a little extra confidence heading into its annual rivalry game with Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
Prediction: Texas 31, Oklahoma State 27
— 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.