OSU-Texas: Moving On To Baylor

AUSTIN, Texas - I know you want to feel better about Saturday night in Austin. There is a silver lining to the Cowboys 36-10 loss at the hands of the fourth-ranked Texas Longhorns. It may seem hallow, but it is valid. For the first time in three years Texas took Oklahoma State very seriously.

Several players from Texas that would not have played against some opponents because of injury -- like linebacker Robert Killebrew and cornerback Aaron Ross -- played because they felt a challenge in the Cowboys. A season-high 89,036 mostly Texas fans showed up because they felt Oklahoma State was worthy.

The Cowboys came in with confidence buoyed by the previous Saturday's win over Nebraska. They believed they were stepping on the field Saturday night to beat Texas. Unfortunately, Texas believed they could as well, and the Longhorns gave this OSU team their full attention and best shot. Respect can be a hard thing to earn, and as the Cowboys discovered against Texas an even harder situation to live with.

What went wrong? That question is not entirely fair because Texas had plenty to do with the proceedings from start to finish. Texas is more talented than Oklahoma State and they exposed several areas of concern that will have to be addressed in recruiting.

We'll start with big plays. The Cowboys have lived on them offensively. Those chunk plays are what ignites the offense including the running game and the Longhorns defense made them disappear. Oklahoma State did have an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Grant Jones, but the Cowboys only had only two chunk plays for 50 yards compared to six chunkers for Texas for 183 yards.

The banged up Texas secondary showed it still had some life as the Longhorns did as good a job on Adarius Bowman as any team has done all season. Bowman had five receptions for 66 yards to lead the Cowboys, but his longest reception was for 20 yards and that was one of the two OSU chunk plays. The other for 30 yards came on the last play of the first half.

"They whipped us in all areas," said head coach Mike Gundy. "Up front and on both sides of the ball they dominated us."

Texas put pressure on Bobby Reid, the kind of pressure Nebraska backed off from because their coverage couldn't hold up. Texas held up on the back end. Facing pressure, Reid threw balls away, got sacked, never looked off receivers giving the Texas secondary plenty of opportunity to jump passes, and when he scrambled the Longhorns controlled how far he got.

By the end of the second quarter Texas had a commanding lead. In the third quarter thanks to Oklahoma State penalties, another problem that appeared for the first time this season, Texas had the ball for 12 minutes, 25 seconds. Those two circumstances kept the Cowboys from doing the one thing on offense that worked halfway decent, running the football. Keith Toston was solid when he got in, carrying the ball seven times for 48 yards. The second half, which only consisted of 20 plays on offense, was completely out of sync for Reid and all of his offensive teammates.

"I thought their coaches did a good job," said Gundy. "They obviously had the luxury when we got down by two scores of opening up and blitzing every down because the risk-reward is in their favor, so they just opened it up on us. I didn't think Bobby played very well. He missed some throws early in the game, so you have to give them credit. This is a very talented football team that we played. We came here to win the football game. Our players were very excited to go out and play the game, but the better team won tonight."

The proving to Longhorn fans that the next great run/pass quarterback in college football resides in Stillwater will have to wait. Reid will have two more opportunities to show Texas and their fans what he can do.

Meanwhile, Colt McCoy showed he could handle Oklahoma State's pressure and that other than Martel Van Zant, who did a great job holding star Horns wide receiver Limas Sweed to two catches for 18 yards, the Longhorn quarterback and the other Texas wide outs could victimize the other Cowboy corners. When OSU pressured the middle was open and McCoy, who completed 23-of-29 passing for 346 yards and three touchdowns, found it often.

For the first time this season the defense deserved better. Usually it has been the other way around, and while the defense gave up 510 yards and allowed too many third-and-long conversions, they did hold Texas to field goals on three first-and-goal situations while forcing Texas to fumble on a fourth goal-to-go scenario. The defense added two sacks to their season total making it 30, and they forced two turnovers.

"Our defense played well except on big downs, (when it was) third-and-long," said Gundy. "We have to stop them and a couple of times we dropped coverage. They threw some balls that I thought our guys should have intercepted. I didn't think we competed for the ball very well."

Had the offense found its equilibrium and kicked into any gear other than first this might have been a game. The best way to handle it is chalk it up to Texas being really good, OSU still being a little green, and move on.

Next week, speaking of green, Baylor comes to Stillwater. The Cowboys owe the Bears their best shot after the eight-turnover disaster from last season. Also, the Cowboys primary goal for the season was to get back to a bowl. A win over Baylor gets the Cowboys to six with two games left to cut loose and look for style points at Texas Tech and in Bedlam.

"The most important thing is pride," said Gundy. "No matter what the situation is there is another team (Baylor) that is coming in to compete against you. Our players will practice hard and get ready and we will move on down the road."

One other note from Austin: Sunday morning the Texas players will wake up and climb out of bed and courtesy of big hits by Jeremy Nethon, Jacob Lacey, Donovan Woods, Patrick Lavine, Rodrick Johnson, Marque Fountain, Xavier Lawson-Kennedy and a few others they will feel like the score was a little closer than it was.

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