The Oklahoma State Cowboys host the Texas Longhorns in Stillwater for what should be an exciting Big 12 Conference game. Oklahoma State is 0-1 in conference play after dropping a 24-35 loss to Baylor last week, and this game opens conference play for the Longhorns.
Texas leads the all-time series with Oklahoma State 24-6, but the Cowboys have won four of the last six games. Unfortunately, the Longhorns have not lost in Stillwater since 1997. The Cowboys are currently favored by 2.5 points, so it should be a close game. Kickoff is set for 11 AM, and you can watch the game on ABC or listen to it on the radio at 96.1 FM.
The Longhorn offense is led by Freshman QB Shane Buechele who has been solid in his first three career games. Texas ranks 44th nationally averaging 262 passing yards a game. Buechele has completed 66% of his passes so far, throwing 7 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He also has the ability to move out of the pocket if necessary; so far he has rushed for 66 yards on 22 attempts and 1 touchdown.
Texas’s rush attack features multiple runners who as a unit rank 23rd nationally averaging 238.3 yards per game. Leading the pack is Junior D’onta Freeman who has 288 yards on 6.4 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns. Sophomore Chris Warren III also has 260 yards on 5 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns. Throw in backup quarterback Senior Tyrone Swoopes who has 88 yards on 4.2 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns, and the Longhorns are able to put the ball into the hands of a number of capable runners.
Texas has no clear cut leader as far as receivers go as five different players have caught a touchdown pass. Four of those guys have double digit receptions for the season, so expect to see Shane Buechele continue to spread the ball around.
Another interesting note is that NFL-prospect Senior offensive lineman Kent Perkins is currently suspended for driving while intoxicated, so the Cowboys may look to take advantage of the void that Perkins leaves.
Texas boasts a mediocre defense that ranks 74th nationally in passing yards allowing 235.7 yards per game and 60th nationally in rushing yards allowing 150.7 yards per game. In their game two weekends ago against California, the Longhorns surrendered 50 points. With an extra week to prepare for Oklahoma State, they undoubtedly worked to fix some issues on the defensive side of the ball.
Texas ranks 12th nationally in sacks averaging 3.7 per game, which is bad news for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State allows 3.5 sacks per game, so the Cowboy offensive line needs to shine in order for the rushing game to be successful and for Mason Rudolph to have enough time to throw.
The Longhorns have not been successful at forcing turnovers, ranking dead last with only 1 recovered fumble and no interceptions, so as long as the Cowboys take care of the ball, they could potentially put up some big points.
The Cowboys desperately need a win right now. This game could easily dictate the outcome of the rest of the season. Win, and the Cowboys are still in the hunt for the Big 12 Championship. Lose, and they are most certainly destined for a rough road the rest of the season.
Offensively, Mason Rudolph could have a big game for the Cowboys. The Texas secondary is mediocre, and the Longhorns are allowing a 37% conversion rate on 3rd down. The running game showed a lot of improvement last week, and if Justice Hill can fix his fumbling issues, he could rise to stardom quickly. The Cowboys need to establish the run in order to open up the pass game for Rudolph.
Defensively, Oklahoma State needs to stop the run game. The Cowboys were effective against a powerful Baylor rush attack last week, and they need to continue that this week. Look for the defensive line to do their best to get into the backfield with Kent Perkins absent from the game due to his suspension. Also, the Cowboy secondary has to show improvement. The defensive backs were torched last week by Baylor QB Seth Russell, and while Shane Buechele does not really compare, Oklahoma State cannot allow the Longhorns to gain major yardage off busted pass coverage.