For entertainment purposes only, I'll take "under" three quarters. Sure, the Cowboys are fresh off of a season-high 267 rushing yards against Nebraska while RB Mike Hamilton had a career night (194 yards) against Texas last season. It tends to get your attention, and that's part of the reason why OSU won't run on Texas. Having needed to wage two of the three biggest comebacks in program history against Okie State in 2004 and 2005, and having to come from behind four straight weeks, re-focused Texas is determined to hit the ground running this Saturday. And that's why OSU's running game will ground to a halt. The Pokes will try to head Texas off at the pass, which is an unsettling thought considering the Horns' pass defense is rated No. 112 and OSU boasts a Biletnikoff Semifinalist in WR Adarius Bowman. Dual-threat QB Bobby Reid has shown he can be contained, but he'll move his team through the air.
The Cowboys have a truly suspect defense, rated No. 77 nationally (355.4 ypg). The unit is No. 3 nationally with 3.5 sacks per game, but its two DEs are responsible for nearly all of the damage. Given the fact that the Cowboys' defensive strength is at the edge, you would think that Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis will rely less on the lateral running game and, instead, run up the gut out of the 'I' formation. You would think.
And I'm thinking Texas 42, Oklahoma State 23.
Ross Lucksinger, InsideTexas.com Editor -- Recent history dictates that Texas will struggle in the first half of this game, and not just the recent history of the series, but also the recent history of the Longhorns. The Horns have had to come back in each of the last four ballgames and Oklahoma State, coming off a monumental win over Nebraska and boasting one of the best offenses in the Big 12, looks prime for the early game "surge" (as Mack Brown put it) each team has been giving the defending national champs.
Not this year my friend.
Combining all of the things the Longhorns have had to go through, theyll be more determined at the start of this game than at any other previous Oklahoma State game. Theyll be focused and determined not to let things get out of hand and make Oklahoma State look less like the team that beat Nebraska and more like the team that lost to Houston.
In the end, itll be a little of both, but a solid win for Texas. The Pokes' flexible offense will create issues for the Longhorns defense and Oklahoma State will put some points on the board but will not threaten in the first half anywhere close to where they have in the past. I mean it cant happen three years in a row right? Texas 35, Oklahoma State 20.
Mike Blackwell, Inside Texas Magazine Editor -- What is it about Oklahoma State? When Ricky Williams was a senior, the Longhorns beat the Cowboys in Austin with a field goal that bounced off an upright and through the goal posts. Then in the last two years, Texas trailed about 100 to nothing at halftime, only to come back and win.
Neither of the last two Oklahoma State teams are as good as the one Texas will face Saturday. Which means, of course, that Texas will win easily on Saturday.
I do, however, have this lingering doubt in my brain, or maybe its my stomach, about how Texas has won the last few games. If Texas loses, remember this paragraph. There are only so many bullets you can dodge, and the Longhorns certainly ducked a few in the last couple of weeks. Part of me says that after having their guard up the last couple of weeks, maybe this is the week they blink, and before you know it, the well is dry and the scoreboard is frowning on them.
The last two or three Texas teams are as predictable as a T. Boone Pickens charitable donation in Stillwater. The Longhorns win all of their games at home (Ohio State notwithstanding), and never lose a game as a home favorite. They just dont.
And after last weeks flag football game in Lubbock, the Texas defense will enjoy playing against a team thats much more basic than Texas Techs circus.
Offensively, Texas will be able to feature a more balanced attack, because chances are good that the Longhorns will not trail 21-0 after 15 minutes of play, as was the case last week when an all-out aerial assault was required. Look for Jamaal Charles to have his best statistical game of the year (150 yards on 20 carries), and Texas will get in control of this one early enough to give the home crowd a glance at a couple of players who have been lost in the shuffle the past few weeks: Jevan Snead and Henry Melton.
The Horns get a lead early and win easily. Texas 42, Oklahoma State 17.
Michael Pearle, Co-Publisher -- I've noticed lately that Mack Brown has gotten back in the habit of telling his team that they must expect their opponent to "have a surge" at the beginning of games and that the team must learn to withstand that. That was a mantra that the coach often used early in his Texas career. For example, when Texas lost to OU 63-14 in 2000, he said post-game, "It wasn't even a game because we did not play in the first half. I told the guys they would have a surge and then it would be our turn. It didn't happen. They had the surge, and they kept it."
Then after last year's huge come-from-behind win over Oklahoma State at Stillwater, Brown said he told the team before the game that "at some point we could expect to be behind. We knew we had to withstand the surge. Oklahoma State has a lot of good players, and they have been in the mix for a lot of good things over the past several years."
In this week's press conference, after Texas Tech, Brown said the same thing: "I think the fact that Texas usually gets that type of effort from other teams, and then you add that we're the defending National Champions, we're getting everybody's best shot. So we need to start better, but we are also learning that we're going to get that extra effort from teams in the beginning of games, so we need to manage it and handle it and go on from there as we work through the rest of the season." Added Limas Sweed on Oklahoma State: "Those guys are going to come out with high intensity, and we'll have to match that to keep them from jumping out on us early."
I am no psychologist, but I'd be very interested in hearing from one about the effect it has on his team for Brown to keep planting in their minds that the other team is going to come out and jump on them from the opening whistle. There's certainly some truth in what the coach is saying, no doubt, but it almost appears Texas plays like it expects to be dominated early, and then what transpires on the field in the first half or so becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Horns have trailed early against OU, Baylor, Nebraska and Texas Tech in the last four weeks, only to pull those games out. With Okie State up next and their recent history of busting out fast on Texas, I am really worried the Horns are going to get into an early hole again this weekend, and I wonder if it may finally be one too deep to climb out of.
Well, maybe, but probably not, not this weekend. Something tells me that this game, at night under the lights, with highly touted Bobby Reid coming to town, may just have the vibe of that legendary, 1990 matchup with the Houston Cougars and their wiz-kid QB David Klingler that saw the Horns pound the Coogs in a raucous blowout win on national TV. After two weeks on the road in front of hostile crowds, with two emotional victories to show for it, I see Texas coming out with a surge of its own Saturday night, buoyed by a loud, adoring crowd eager to welcome their heroes home. The Horns are painfully aware of what the Cowboys have done to them early the last two years; they will be determined that it doesn't happen again. The game will be competitive, but I think Texas will stay in control the whole way, with OSU trying to play catch-up. They won't. Texas 41, Oklahoma State 24.
Clendon Ross, Co-Publisher -- So, Wednesday, I caught a replay of the second half of the Oklahoma State-Nebraska game from last weekend. I wish I hadn't. I haven't slept since. OK, I've slept, but it's been a restless sleep, with nightmares of the snubbed Bobby Reid torching the Texas defense, firing sideline shots or lofting deep passes off play-action to big receivers Adarius Bowman and D'Juan Woods, with speedy tailback Dantrell Savage occasionally finding the edge and last year's defense Horn-shredder Mike Hamilton powering downfield to move the chains and keep the play-action effective.
All of the above is a legitimate concern, not just because of the talent of the guys involved -- they are all very talented -- but because the Texas defense for three weeks now has proven quite susceptible to colossal breakdowns. There's no reason to believe that will abate this week.
And if that's again the case, you can expect the Cowboys to put a lot of points on the board, which means another week of living on the razor's edge, where the offense will be forced into a shootout rather than a grind-it-out, state-school-style pounding. The Horns have proven capable of winning with both styles, but the margin for error is so much smaller when the defense is porous that each week becomes a near toss-up.
For Texas offensively, the gradual move to more I-formation over the past weeks is an extremely positive development, as is Colt McCoy's now proven ability to make plays with his feet (both on rollout passes and when tucking and running). The Horns' offense is equally as dangerous as the Cowboys'.
So I guess we're back to defense. I'll go with Gene Chizik's bunch to make a few more plays and tilt the balance in the Longhorns favor. But sleep won't come easy till this one is in the books as a 'W'. Texas 38, Oklahoma State 35.
Pat Culpepper, Special to Inside Texas -- Texas 28, Oklahoma State 21.
Average of IT Members Picks: Texas 44, Oklahoma State 24.
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