Zac vs. Colt: A QB Showdown In Austin

STILLWATER – Zac Robinson is having the type of season that few Oklahoma State quarterbacks have ever enjoyed. Unfortunately, he's probably not getting the recognition he deserves because of Colt McCoy of Texas. Robinson and his No. 7 Cowboys will get a chance to prove they deserve to be on the big stage when they go on the road Saturday to face McCoy and the No. 1-ranked Longhorns.

Zac vs. Colt: A QB Showdown In Austin Robinson is one of the major reasons the Cowboys are 7-0 for only the second time in school history – the last time was in 1945. The junior from Littleton, Colo., has the nation's third-best passing efficiency (191.9) while throwing for 1,488 yards and 14 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He has completed 70.1 percent of his passes.

McCoy is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy, and will win it easily if he continues to put up the numbers he has in leading the Longhorns to a 7-0 record. He has the nation's fourth-best passing efficiency (190.8) while throwing for 1,894 yards and 19 TDs with just three interceptions. He has completed an amazing 81.2 percent of his passes.

"He's playing with tremendous confidence right now. I don't know Colt, and I don't know what his relationship is with his team but when I watch him on tape, it looks like he's a tremendous leader. His team is rallying around him," Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said on Monday.

"I don't know what's out there nationally quarterback-wise but I would say he's probably playing as good as anybody in the country right now. The few times I've heard him talk or seen anything about him, I sure like him. I don't like to play against him, but I like him as a person from what I see and from what I hear.

"But I like the guy we have playing also. I like Zac Robinson. He performs for us and makes plays. It sets up for an interesting game, and I think it's good that the teams that are playing in it have quality people at the quarterback position. I think it says a lot for the direction that we're going, and obviously says a lot about Colt."

Robinson is 13-5 as the Cowboys' starting quarterback since taking over for Bobby Reid in the third game of the 2007 season. McCoy is 27-6 in his three-plus years as the starter for the Longhorns.

Analysts will attempt to break down Saturday's nationally televised matchup (ABC-TV at 2:30 p.m. Central time) against the No. 1 and No. 7 teams in the nation … but it's not going to be decided by which teams runs the ball best, which defense can force the other team to alter its game plan, or any other attempt to decipher the game.

If Zac Robinson plays his game – and outperforms Colt McCoy – then the Cowboys will return to Stillwater with an 8-0 record and the frontrunners to capture the Big 12 South Division title.

That, however, is easier said than done. It's not impossible, though. A year ago, inside Boone Pickens Stadium, Robinson set a school record with 430 yards passing and the Cowboys rolled up 594 yards of total offense as Oklahoma State took a 35-14 lead into the fourth quarter against the 12th-ranked Longhorns. But Texas scored 24 unanswered points, including Ryan Bailey's 40-yard field goal on the game's final play, to rally for a 38-35 victory.

It was the fourth time since 2003 that the Longhorns had rallied to defeat the Cowboys. Texas had a 28-point comeback against OSU in 2004 and trailed by 19 points before scoring 38 in a row to win in 2005. In the second half of the last five games between the two teams, the Longhorns have outscored the Cowboys 158-14.

"Looking back at the tape (of the 2007 game) the next day there were just a few things here and there that we saw, things that we could have done as an offense and not put our defense in that situation," said Robinson, who was 30 of 42 passing for 430 yards against the Longhorns last season. "As an offense we feel we have to finish drives, get a few more first downs and maybe it wouldn't have happened."

But both Robinson and Gundy believe that this year could be different.

"It's a totally different team. It's a totally different attitude. It's more of a team. We're all playing together," said Robinson. "The defense is playing really well right now. Offensively, we feel like we can go out and score every time we touch it. (And) special teams have also been huge for us. It's a totally different team, and just a totally different attitude."

Gundy says, "I like the way our defense is playing right now. But it's hard to predict what will happen if you ever get in that situation again. I think we're a little farther along as a team. We're more mature, we have a little more depth, (and) we have more continuity. We feel like the players are a little more seasoned in situations like this, but again it's college football and you never know what's going to happen."

The Cowboy defense must continue to play at its best to have a chance against the Longhorns, especially with the way the 6-3, 210-pound McCoy is playing.

If you're an Oklahoma State fan, please sit down before reading the rest of this paragraph. McCoy's numbers in Texas' four home games this season are out of this world. He has completed 86 of 103 passes (86.4 percent) for 1,073 yards and 12 touchdowns (with no interceptions) for a 212.4 passing rating. In addition, he's rushed 40 times for 293 yards (7.3 yards per carry) and six TDs. In last Saturday's thrashing of the 11th-ranked Missouri Tigers, McCoy set a school record by completing 90.6 percent of his passes (29-of-32) while throwing for 337 yards and two touchdowns.

"We just need Zac to play his game, and he's done it lately," the Cowboy head coach says. "Zac has pulled the ball down and run more effectively in the last few weeks. He's been more effective in our option game.

"One thing that we've asked Kendall (Hunter), Zac, Dez (Bryant), Brandon (Pettigrew), (Andre) Sexton, (Ricky) Price, Jeray (Chatham), and (Patrick) Lavine to do … they just have to play their game. The only thing that we can control is what we do, in preparation and effort. We can't control what they do, and so we just ask them to play their game."

Robinson was preparing to make just the seventh start of his career. But Saturday's showdown with the Longhorns will be his 19th under center for the Cowboys. Those additional 12 starts make a world of difference for Robinson who is now the unquestioned leader of the team.

"He's been tremendous for us," Gundy said. "I don't know how many starts he's had now … he's 18 games into it. When you bring a young man in here and you can get three years out of him, you're talking 36 games. So he's about halfway through his career.

"I would say in the last 7 to 10 games his leadership skills have really developed, and a lot of that has to do with the confidence that it's his job, he's the guy, and he knows that if he makes a mistake it's OK. I think that's a part of it."

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