Texas Game Now Looks More Difficult

As I was watching Texas take apart the West Virginia defense on Saturday afternoon I came to realize that Oklahoma State would have a much more difficult chore in attempting to become bowl eligible against Texas in what shapes up to be a very chilly (weather-wise) matchup Saturday night in the final home game of the season at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Mother Nature is due to put the chill on the state this week, and now with five wins following their 33-16 win over the Mountaineers the Longhorns have more reason to come to Stillwater ready to play than ever.

Also, for anyone thinking that new head coach Charlie Strong and his tough love discipline had caused he and his staff to lose what remains of the 2014 Longhorns all they have to see is the locker room celebration following the win over West Virginia as the players lifted Strong up and passed him around like the Packers' linebacker Clay Matthews on the Sunday Night Football open.

The Longhorns are revived and at 5-5 need one more win to be bowl eligible. Their final two opportunities to get bowl eligible are Saturday in Stillwater or Thanksgiving night at home against TCU. Which one do you think looks more do-able?

In a quick evaluation of the matchup four things become apparent. Both teams are capable on defense, Oklahoma State appears to have an edge on special teams, both quarterbacks are struggling, and Texas appears to run the ball much better but the numbers don't exactly show it unless you are looking at the West Virginia game.

I look at three areas going into the game week with the Longhorns that I will plan to study more. Rushing offense and defense, quarterback play, and third-down play.

Running the football is first. The knock is OSU can't run the ball effectively and Texas is a potential rushing juggernaut. I'm not sure if that is true, but my eyes made me believe it on Saturday. Texas ran the ball for 227 yards against the 3-3-5 Mountaineers defense, a defense that allowed the Cowboys sometimes anemic run game to gain 194 yards in Stillwater.

Texas is led by Malcolm Brown, who has run for 623 yards and an average of 4.1-yards a carry. Oklahoma State will get Desmond Roland back and his heart will be heavy after losing his mother but he should be fresh physically having rushed for 512 yards and a 3.9 yards average. The Cowboys senior running back missed the Kansas State game after his mother's passing.

Texas has the lead on the season on Oklahoma State in rushing offense with the Longhorns averaging 177.6 yards per game and Oklahoma State averaging 141.1 yards. Conversely, the run defense has Texas allowing an average of 156.9 yards a game and Oklahoma State only allowing 151.3 yards rushing a contest.

We could bore you with lots of numbers, but in both scoring and total offense and defense the numbers between the two teams are similar. The biggest difference is in total defense where Texas is allowing 61.8 yards fewer a game.

The quarterbacks numbers are virtually identical with the completion percentages close. Daxx Garman has thrown for 1,883 yards with 11 touchdowns and also 11 interceptions. Tyrone Swoopes, who is showing improvement while throwing for 1,847 yards and 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, will be looking to show he can improve on the road. I think quarterback play is huge and Texas will tee off with its pass rush on Garman. He will have to play much better and I'm not sure he is capable of that. I hope I am wrong.

Third downs and turnovers will be very important, as they are in every game. Texas is much better in turnovers as they are a plus-six on the season while Oklahoma State is minus-one.

Third downs are interesting. Oklahoma State is 49-of-139 and converting 35.3 percent on third down. Texas is 50-of-153 for a 32.7 third-down percentage. On defense, Oklahoma State has allowed 54-of-144 third-down conversions for 37.5 percent. Texas has allowed opponents to convert 60-of-170 third downs for 35.3 percent.

It looks like a close game with Oklahoma State having a home field advantage but right now a quarterback deficiency. I know that the offensive line has been struggling and you can pick a part both teams at various times, too many times this season. Somebody after Saturday night will know for sure that they have a postseason bowl trip awaiting and a 13th opportunity to play this season.



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