OSU-Texas: Key Match-ups & Prediction

This week starts Big 12 Conference play. Much like last week's K-State win over vaunted OU, and Saturday's game in Morgantown where newbie West Virginia hosts Baylor, the Oklahoma State-Texas matchup will be a key chapter in the book written about the 2012 Big 12 season. Kansas State is the clubhouse leader, but the winners of Saturday's two games will join the Wildcats by the end of the day.

If Oklahoma State can make it three in a row over Texas then the Cowboys will have another bye week and a soft road trip to Kansas to further cement themselves up there on the leaderboard.

Everyone seemingly is picking Texas to win. ESPN is fawning all over the Longhorns, but remember they have a financial stake with the LHN. All of The Oklahoman writers picked Texas, except John Helsley, who also happened to be the only Oklahoman writer that picked Kansas State the week before.

My question is, what has changed so much in the last year that makes anyone believe that 38-26 and 33-16 wins in Austin the last two years can't be repeated at home in Boone Pickens Stadium?

I'll answer that one for Mack Brown. The Texas head coach will tell you his quarterback is a year older and more confident, his stable of running backs are really good, and he has two bookends and two bookcorners that make the Longhorns defense really strong in forcing bad plays and preventing good ones for the opposing offense.

All that is good but I would say at 3-0 with wins over Wyoming, New Mexico, and a down Ole Miss team that Texas has not been tested, even hit in the mouth. Arizona did that for the Cowboys and any entitlement over a Big 12 Championship is gone after that desert slap in the face.

Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are gone. But Wes Lunt is pretty good and all J.W. Walsh did when Lunt was out against Louisiana was help set a total offense record of 742 yards and OSU has been playing football for 110 years, so that's not a bad accomplishment for J.W.

Can the Cowboys win and make it three in a row over Texas? You betcha!

Key Match-Ups
1. Oklahoma State corners Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert
vs. Texas wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Mike Davis
The crazy aspect of this game is that with each of these match-ups that I picked, you can go with the corresponding match-up on the other side of the ledger. For instance, take Texas stadnout corners Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs against Cowboys wide receivers Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore.

That match-up will be just as important because both Oklahoma State and Texas are proud of their corners, and in Saturday night's game both the Cowboys and Longhorns need to trust their corners to cover in man so they can devote as much defense as possible to stop the run.

The match-up I want to see would be Brown on the taller Davis as Brown loves to muscle up to a bigger receiver. Go ask Jeff Fuller, formerly of A&M, or current K-State receiver Chris Harper how well Brown does when he is at a size disadvantage. Brown on Davis makes sense too because we all want to see the speed on speed of Gilbert covering the Olympian (long jumper) Goodwin.

The Texas receivers are good, but Brown and Gilbert are better. One is an All-American and the other is a potential first-round NFL Draft pick.

Advantage: Solid to Brown and Gilbert

2. Oklahoma State defensive tackles Calvin Barnett and James Castleman
vs. UT guard Mason Walters, center Dominic Espinosa and guard Trey Hopkins
This one cuts both ways as well as the Cowboy' trio of Lane Taylor, Evan Epstein and Jonathan Rush are going to need to push around Texas defensive tackles Chris Whaley and Desmond Jackson. I think that match-up goes to Oklahoma State in a major way with the seniors Taylor and Rush both pretty good and very wise.

This scenario is different as the experience is all with the Texas trio, although they have not seen anybody quite like Barnett yet. The best advise here is strike first, strike fast, and strike with plenty of force. Barnett and Castleman need to make Texas feel that the night is long and not the other way around. Push in the middle will go a long way toward curtailing the Longhorns coveted run game.

Advantage: Too Close to Call

3. Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh
vs. Texas Defensive Front Seven
Anybody for looking at David Ash vs. the Oklahoma State defensive front seven? It is in play too. The biggest aspect of the Walsh vs. Texas storyline is that Walsh is inexperienced. Or is he? This is a "gym rat" film studying fool that has seen more football than most quarterbacks his age, just not on the college field.

Truth be told, he is not the only one in the game with that issue. A huge factor here is whether Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks can go or not. If not, the experience situation gets much more even. Texas gets the nod here, but not by much. Walsh's mind and his mobility go a long way toward either evening this up or putting himself in an advantageous role.

Advantage: Slight to Texas Defensive Front Seven

Game Prediction
Okay, Texas is good but so is Oklahoma State, and the weapons may be a little stacked in the Cowboys favor with the defense a little bit in the Longhorns favor. My feeling is this is a four-quarter game that will be a one score difference all the way to the final couple of minutes. Turnovers and the side that does the best job of run defense gets this one. I say it goes the Cowboys way.
No. 22 Oklahoma State 38, No. 10 Texas 28

Week 5 Predictions
No. 7 West Virginia 38, No. 24 Baylor 34

Iowa State 27, Texas Tech 14

No. 14 TCU 31, SMU 20

Last Week
Baylor 31, La-Monroe 23
Actual Score: Baylor 47-42

No. 17 TCU 47, Virginia 16
Actual Score: TCU 27-7

No. 8 West Virginia 59, Maryland 20
Actual Score: West Virginia 31-21

Northern Illinois 26, Kansas 21
Actual Score: Northern Illinois 30-23

No. 15 Kansas State 34, No. 6 Oklahoma 28
Actual Score: Kansas State 24-19

Record: SU 29-1/ATS 16-5 (Games involving FCS teams don't have point spreads.)

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