OSU-Texas: Key Matchups & Predictions

"Give me liberty or give me death," is the famous quote by American statesman Patrick Henry. It applies on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium as the word in the Big 12 bowl community is that the winner of this game will get the invite to join the Tennessee Volunteers for a very orange week of varying shades in Memphis, Tenn. over Christmas week culminating with the Dec. 29 Liberty Bowl.

I know, I know, the Liberty Bowl doesn't sound as great as some of the potential destinations but I would differ. I felt going into the season that a trip to Memphis for the tradition-rich Liberty Bowl would be a great bowl destination for this young team on its way toward fighting to be a Big 12 favorite in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

I especially feel that way now after the rough results of the past three games. The Liberty Bowl is one of those older bowl games that does things up right and it is a prestigious Big 12 vs. SEC matchup. Give me Beale Street and give me barbecue, and that is my quote.

It won't matter to any of the players on the field but there will be fans in the stands checking to see if Texas offensive line coach Joe Wickline is calling any plays. This is the Joe Wickline Bowl. It won't go any distance in deciding the several lawsuits that have been filed between Oklahoma State and Wickline, and Wickline and OSU athletic director Mike Holder.

Somebody will feel better after it is over, either Wickline on the flight back to Austin or Holder as he rides home in the chilly Stillwater night.

Late notes on the game indicate Texas may be dealing with an added injury on the offensive line this week to starting right guard Kent Perkins. Also, the word is that Oklahoma State is going to shuffle its starting offensive line some for the Longhorns.

OSU vs. Texas Key Matchups
OSU defensive tackles Ofa Hautau or James Castleman
vs. Texas right guard Kent Perkins or Jake Raulerson

Stopping the run is a key and that means controlling up front with your defensive tackles. I'm picking on the side where Perkins is at guard because the rumor is he was carted off the practice field on Wednesday.

Castleman is a Texan (from Amarillo) that would love to post another win over the Longhorns, and Hautau just wants to post a win. Raulerson considered Oklahoma State but turned down Wickline, who was then the O-line coach at Oklahoma State and was recruiting Raulerson. Raulerson ended up with Wickline on the rebound. I'm guessing that he may have paid for that some in practice.
Edge: Hautau or Castleman and big if Perkins is hurt.

OSU offensive line vs. Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown
Spin the wheel of lineup changes on the offensive line. Is it dramatic or just an adjustment or two? Where the wheel stops and who will have the responsibility of blocking the defensive tackle that is one of the most versatile defensive linemen in the Big 12 nobody knows.

What I do know is that Brown is good enough to single-handedly screw up the Cowboys offense and whichever offensive lineman gets the assignment had better pick up and move his feet and be very strong with his hands and keep them on Brown. He will rip and tug and get hands off of him as well as any college defensive lineman in the country.
Edge: Heavy to Malcom Brown.

OSU linebackers Ryan Simmons, Seth Jacobs and Josh Furman
vs. Texas running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray
I really like Simmons, Jacobs and Furman, but there have been missed tackles in recent weeks and those will have to be corrected against Texas. Some of them are because of players are playing through some tough injuries. The open week certainly helped that. Brown and Gray excel at earning bonus yards after contact. This is a simple matchup to evaluate, the toughest group wins.
Edge: Too close to call.

OSU-Texas Prediction
I think the game comes down to three factors: 1, which team runs the ball most efficiently and successfully; 2, turnovers, and 3, whether either team can muster a touchdown or have a touchdown set up by either the special teams or the defense. A score or scoring opportunity in that fashion for two teams that can struggle offensively would be a big bonus.

Texas has the advantage in running the football, but Oklahoma State has the advantage in stopping the run. The limitations of Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in the passing game will be welcomed by Oklahoma State, which has been last in the league by two yards behind OU in pass defense.

Turnovers favor Texas but not seriously. Oklahoma State is the only FBS team in the nation that has not recovered a fumble this season and the Cowboys are due. As for defensive and special teams touchdowns the Cowboys have the edge four-to-two. OSU has two kickoff returns for scores by Tyreek Hill this season and they have two interceptions returned for touchdowns with freshman Ramon Richards doing it most recently at Kansas State. Texas has returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The Longhorns also have scored on a safety.

I believe the open week helped Oklahoma State and the Cowboys will be highly motivated with Senior Night and the last home game of the season. The Cowboys will defend the home turf and make it happen.

Oklahoma State 20, Texas 13

Big 12 Predictions
This Week
No. 4 TCU 51, @Kansas 10
The Horned Frogs need to continue to impress the CFP committee and they have no games left with ranked opponents. The only way to get it done is style points and that is unfortunate.

Oklahoma 24, @Texas Tech 23
The Sooners with their backup quarterback against what ever quarterback is healthy for Texas Tech grinds out a win in Lubbock.

Last Week: 2-2 (straight up) / 3-1 (against the spread)
Season Total: 51-9 (straight up) / 35-18 with a push (against the spread)
It is always a weird week when you have a better record against the spread than you do straight up because more often it is the other way around. The difference for me was that I did not pick Baylor to win straight up because I thought OU would find a way at home. However, I had Baylor covering the way too large spread on the game.

Last Week's Results
No. 15 Oklahoma 34, No. 12 Baylor 31
Actual Score: 48-14 Baylor

No. 23 West Virginia 42, Texas 20
Actual Score: 33-16 Texas

Kansas 17, Iowa State 14
Actual Score: 34-14 Kansas

No. 6 TCU 30, No. 7 Kansas State 24
Actual Score: 41-20 TCU

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