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the score

OSU UT Preview

Texas enters as the underdog, rightly so

By Russ Espinoza, 1:44PM, Fri. Oct. 14, 2011

Blake Gideon (with ball)
Blake Gideon (with ball)
Photo courtesy of UT

The Longhorns return to DKR Texas Memorial Stadium without the luster of a perfect record, without a year’s worth of “scoreboard,” and – in all likelihood – a chunk of their dignity in the fallout from last week’s 55-17 manhandling by No. 3 Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl.

A point differential of that magnitude – on that stage, to Public Enemy No. 1 no less – is a rare humiliation for a larger-than-life program like Texas. Naturally, most watching 2011’s Red River Rivalry reached the same plain-to-see conclusion: that the Sooner “men” bullied the Longhorn “boys,” all day. Pile on how Landry Jones was every bit the star Texas feared; then recall how Oklahoma’s swarming defense mugged three instant touchdowns out of UT’s five turnovers; and OU’s 55 points could’ve ballooned into the 70s if not for slaughter-rule ethics.

The Sooner state’s sister school, No. 6 Oklahoma State (5-0, 2-0 Big 12), might spin itself as a rival of Texas, but their recent head-to-head record against UT paints the ugly truth. The Cowboys are 1-10 in these showdowns since 2000, but that “1” is greater than its face value, as it came just 11 months ago in a 33-16 Cowboy win over those notorious 2010 Longhorns. Oklahoma State improved to 9-1 that night by virtue of a bruising 26-3 halftime lead. But the darker side of that single tally lies in the inevitability of it turning over.

Texas will again be tasked with managing Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden and All-American wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Statistically, Weeden is the best quarterback Texas will face all season: the senior signal-caller ranks 12th in the nation in quarterback rating (165.0) and flexes a 75.8 completion percentage with a 15/6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Blackmon is an elite possession receiver who caught nine passes for 145 yards in last year’s contest. At 13.3 yards per catch and a season long of 56, Hubert Anyiam is their likeliest big-play receiver.

Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy is a man: he’s 40 (as of 2007). The lion’s share of his manhood currently lives vicariously through his blistering offense. The Cowboys arguably own the nation’s best offense: they’ve lit up opponents for 257 points over five games – which included a 30-29 road victory over No. 21 Texas A&M – for an average of 51.4 points per game. Though Texas got partial vindication from pushing around UCLA and Iowa State, the concern across Austin is that UT will again trip over itself and suck wind in a shootout. Defensively, the Longhorns simply don’t have the playmakers necessary to net sacks and force takeaways from Oklahoma State’s exacting, relentless offense – Texas has only accrued six sacks in five games; linebacker Emmanuel Acho leads in that category with two.

Oklahoma State’s defense allows 27.6 points per game – so they can be had, unlike the back-breaking Sooners. I think UT’s quarterback carousel of McCoy and Ash will have their fun, but they won’t have the endurance and skill to match Weeden and company score-for-score.

Oklahoma State wins, 44-31.

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