HD GameDay: Battle of Bowl Eligibility

It will be the Battle of Bowl Eligibility in Stillwater, Okla. on Saturday when the Longhorns (5-5, 4-3) take on Oklahoma State (5-4, 3-3) at 6:30 p.m. on FOX from Boone Pickens Stadium.

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Texas will travel north having won back-to-back games, including a 33-16 trouncing of then-No. 20 West Virginia in Austin.

After not having a single player rush for 100 yards in a game through eight games this season, the Longhorns have had consecutive backs eclipse that mark over the last two weeks.

First it was Malcolm Brown’s 116-yard, two-TD effort against Texas Tech and then last week it was Johnathan Gray who rushed for over 100 yards and scored three times.

Texas has been able to move the ball with more consistency and effectiveness because of the play of its offensive line, led by UT offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Joe Wickline, who, as you might have heard, is going through some legal battles with OSU – his former employer – right now.

The Longhorns are expected to be without two key linemen for this game, though, and could have to shuffle players around to make due. You could see Taylor Doyle, who has been starting at center, slide to right guard to replace an injured Kent Perkins while Jake Raulerson, who initially took over at center after Dominic Espinosa got injured, get his first game action since the Baylor game.

Look for OSU to try and take advantage of this with a front four that is considered the strength of their defense led by DE Emmanuel Ogbah, who leads the Big 12 and is No. 6 nationally in tackles for loss (14.5) and No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 7 nationally in sacks (9).

Speaking of front fours, Texas’ should play a major role in this game as they try and put pressure on a very turnover-prone OSU QB in Daxx Garman, who has 11 TD passes and 11 INTs on the season.

The Cowboys aren’t running the ball nearly as well as they grew accustomed to with Wickline coaching up their offensive line, but they have one of the top playmakers in the conference in Tyreek Hill, who can break open a game in the blink of an eye.

Last Time These Two Faced Each Other

Case McCoy threw three interceptions that led to 14 points for the Cowboys in OSU’s 38-13 victory in Austin. Texas was down 28-10 at halftime. Malcolm Brown carried the load for UT’s offense to the tune of 25 carries for 79 yards and a TD. Tyrone Swoopes came in for a few snaps and went 3-of-4 for 17 yards and was sacked once. McCoy ended the day going 26-for-39 for 221 yards.

Five WVU Players to Watch

RB Tyreek Hill - Everyone knew the JUCO transfer had speed on top of speed when he arrived at OSU, but it really is something to behold until you see it for yourself. Hill, who has been clocked at 10.19 in the 100, has two kickoff returns for touchdowns and leads the Big 12 in all-purpose yards (had 278 all-purpose yards in loss to Florida State).

QB Daxx Garman - Prior to making his debut on Sept. 6 in relief of injured starter J.W. Walsh, Garman hadn’t played in a game since 2009! After playing in 2009 at Jones HS just outside of Oklahoma City, Garman’s family moved to Texas, where he enrolled at Southlake Carroll. But he was unable to play in 2010 because of transfer rules. He signed with Arizona in 2011, then transferred to Oklahoma State in the summer of 2012 and sat out that season under transfer rules. He’s been wildly inconsistent this season, or extremely consistent depending on how you look at it with 11 TD passes and 11 INTs.

DE Emmanuel Ogbah - Ogbah is a pass-rushing demon for the Cowboys, who leads the Big 12 and is No. 6 nationally in tackles for loss (14.5) and No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 7 nationally in sacks (9).

CB Kevin Peterson - Peterson could be the top cornerback in the Big 12. He held West Virginia’s Kevin White to three catches for 27 yards (White had 16 catches for over 130 yards against Texas). At that point White entered the game averaging 9.9 catches and 145.7 receiving yards per game.

P Kip Smith - Field position could be key in a game where the weather is expected to be crummy (or perfect football weather to others). Smith has been a weapon for OSU this season. He’s second in the Big 12 in net punting (40.3 average) with a long of 71 yards. He has 13 punts of 50 yards or longer and 16 punts have been downed inside the 20.

Five Keys to the Game

1. Offensively, Texas needs to take the same approach against Oklahoma State that it took against Texas Tech: power running with a lead blocker (TE Geoff Swaim has been a monster in that role). Once you get past OSU's front four, that Cowboys' defense is vulnerable.

2. The fastest way to trouble for Tyrone Swoopes is to be dropping back a bunch and allowing Big 12 sack leader Emmanuel Ogbah to rock him and sock him into turnovers.

3. If Oklahoma State attacks Texas with a bunch of zero coverage blitzes, the way WVU did in the second half, have WR screens and speed sweeps (to fast guys like Daje Johnson, Jacorey Warrick or Armanti Foreman) ready. And let's see some QB power and QB counter with Swoopes going right between the tackles this week.

4. Under no circumstances does Texas kick or punt to blazer Tyreek Hill in the middle of the field. Pin him against a sideline with directional kicks.

5. Blitz Daxx Garman until he can't see and just make sure you account for Tyreek Hill. OSU's offensive line is weak. Garman isn't as mobile as JW Walsh and has been a turnover machine (11 INTs). And outside of Hill, OSU doesn't have a home run threat.

HD Predictions


Texas is the better team in this matchup.

Believe it or not, UT has the better quarterback as Tyrone Swoopes (10 TDs, 6 INTs, 57 percent comp rate) is more of a threat to run than OSU QB Daxx Garman (11 TDs, 11 INTs, 54.4 percent comp rate).

Oklahoma State has really struggled to run the ball without Joe Wickline coaching up an OSU offensive line.

After years of having backs such as Tatum Bell, Kendall Hunter and Joseph Randle averaging at least 5 yards per carry, Desmond Roland is averaging just 3.9 ypc (131 carries for 512 yards and 7 TDs).

And after years of having receiving threats such as Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon and Josh Stewart, the Cowboys have no go-to guy at receiver (David Glidden leads OSU with 31 catches for 419 yards, 1 TD).

As long as Texas doesn't allow WR/RB Tyreek Hill to get going (don't kick it to him in the middle of the field!!!!), the Longhorns' D should be able to suffocate OSU's offense.

The strength of OSU's defense is the front four, led by Big 12 sack and TFLs leader DE Emmanuel Ogbah (9 sacks, 14.5 TFLs).

The back seven of the OSU defense is very beatable. The lone star appears to be CB Kevin Peterson, who helped limit WVU WR Kevin White to 3 catches for 27 yards.

I think the Texas defense dominates this game. Garman has thrown 2 interceptions in five of OSU's last six games, including the last 3 vs. TCU, West Virginia and K-State.

The Longhorns defense scores the first TD of the game, loosens things up for Swoopes and the offense, and the D adds another score late.

Texas 27, Oklahoma State 17



Interestingly enough, I think Joe Wickline is the key to this game. Not because of the job he's done with this patch-work group of offensive linemen, which is playing much better, but more so because of the impact it's made on Oklahoma State's run game.

The Cowboys aren't running the ball nearly as well as they were throughout the duration of Wickline's time at OSU. For as much as the Cowboys threw the ball around, it was always their run game that made them who they were.

Desmond Roland is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry (131 carries for 512 yards and 7 TDs), which is simply not going to get it done, especially against a Texas front seven that's as good as any in the Big 12.

As long as the Longhorns keep Tyreek Hill in check and Texas doesn't turn the ball over, I fully expect Texas to take control of this game early and never look back.

I think the Longhorns should be able to put pressure on Daxx Garman without bringing too much added pressure, which is going to make it that much harder on OSU's QB to not turn the ball over (he has 11 TDs and 11 INTs).

With the weather expecting to be ugly, look for the Longhorns to rely on Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray and D'Onta Foreman more than usual. Regardless of who lines up where for Texas on the offensive line, UT has to keep OSU's DEs in check as they are the best linemen the Pokes have. The best one is Emmanuel Ogbah, who leads the Big 12 in sacks and TFLs.

Nick Rose is going to have to be clutch as well. You can't miss FGs on the road, especially in a bad weather game where field position is going to be key.

Texas 28, Oklahoma State 24



Texas is sitting at 5-5 on the year, 4-3 in the Big 12 conference. Oklahoma State is 5-4 through nine games, 3-3 in the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma State will both try and become bowl eligible this weekend.

This is another good matchup for the Texas offense. The Cowboys in their five wins on the season have given up an average of 112 rushing yards per game and in four losses they have allowed 180 rushing yards per game. The formula for the Longhorn offense seems simple? Run the football to win the game. While that might be a formula, I believe Texas will have success throwing the ball on Saturday.

Oklahoma State has one of the worst pass defenses in America. The Cowboys check in at No 89 in pass defense allowing 248 yards in five wins and 330 passing yards in four losses. Texas will be able to move the ball through the air on Saturday making the ground game even more effective in the second half. I think you will see Texas establish the passing game to set up the ground attack.

For all the talk of the high-powered Oklahoma State offense, the Cowboys have scored a total of 33 points in the last three games combined vs. TCU, West Virginia and Kansas State. Yes, all ranked opponents I understand but this is the kind of team Texas should have very success against from an offensive standpoint.

I like Texas to get the road win running their record to 6-5 on the year with a score of …

Texas 34, Oklahoma State 17



Texas should win.

But the narrative all season has been will Texas win? Texas needed last week’s game and they managed to pull of an impressive victory over West Virginia – their first win over a ranked opponent since 2008.

However, winning on the road in Stillwater, Oklahoma on a cold and potentially nasty night, is a different task. And with the potential loss of offensive guard Kent Perkins, the game could be even more difficult.

Despite all the challenges in front of the Longhorns, I think they get the job done against Oklahoma State.

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes needs to improve. Texas needs Swoopes to play better than he did against West Virginia. Despite a hot start, the sophomore quarterback from Whitewright, Texas finished the game with an unimpressive stat line – 11-29, 124 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. I think Swoopes progress a bit but not by much. The running game will be effective against the Cowboys but it might not be as great with the issues on the offensive line. But running backs- senior Malcolm Brown and junior Johnathan Gray – will finish the game with a combined 175 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The Texas defense will have no problem stifling the Oklahoma State offense. Senior defensive end Ced Reed and junior defensive tackle Malcolm Brown will have dominating games. The defense will get two turnovers on the way to their sixth win of the season.

Texas 27, Oklahoma State 17

HD Reads

Know Your Foe: OSU.

HD Only: Exclusive Notes Package for Subscribers.

HD Roundtable: What’s Most Intriguing about final weeks of CFB &/or TXHSFB seasons.

Swoopes the sure thing at QB in 2015?

Kiss of Death.

Injury Update: Swoopes and Darius James.

FREE: Ultimate UT Recruiting Q&A.

Vance Rants.


Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights


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