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Texas Can't Stop Oklahoma State

Big 12 title hopes fade as Longhorns struggle against Cowboys
Russ Espinoza, 9:21am, Mon. Nov. 18, 2013

The Longhorns returned to Earth this weekend, landing with a thud that reverberated around the Big 12. The Longhorns 38-13 defeat Oklahoma State doubled as the worst home loss in Mack Brown’s sixteen seasons, and served as precisely the kind of loss that could recharge the recently quieted discussion about Coach’s security up top.

Texas’ six-game winning streak and undefeated record in conference play got squashed by No. 13 OSU in a pivotal conference matchup that proved a tale of two quarterbacks. Texas’ Case McCoy tied a career high with three interceptions – including a backbreaking pick-six to put Texas down 18 before the half – while State’s Clint Chelf diced the Longhorn defense on the ground and in the pocket.

The Cowboys (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) rode a winning streak of their own into town. With Saturday’s win, they’re now 5-0 since Chelf’s taken over and in superb position to take the conference title if they can beat No. 3 Baylor in Stillwater next week.

The 6’1” senior, unheralded as a rusher, broke an early scoreless tie by dashing 18 yards for a touchdown four minutes into the first quarter. Overall, Chelf accounted for 292 of Oklahoma State’s 380 offensive yards, rushing for a second touchdown and throwing two more. His only blemish was a late first quarter interception in the end zone by Longhorn safety Mykel Thompson back when the game was still up for grabs.

A huge pick at the time, it enabled the Longhorns to keep the Cowboys at arm’s length. Texas cut into a 14-3 second quarter deficit when Malcolm Brown, Texas’ new primary ball-carrier following Johnathan Gray’s season-ending Achilles injury, found the end zone from seven yards out to cap a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive with four minutes left in the second quarter.

But Chelf pierced the Longhorn defense for 65 passing yards on OSU’s ensuing drive, including a fortuitous 11-yard touchdown pass that sailed through Longhorn safety Adrian Phillips’ hands.

Texas looked desperate to atone for the Cowboys’ late touchdown with a score of their own to regain momentum entering the half. After a few short passing plays for minimal gains, offensive coordinator Major Applewhite called another pass with 28 seconds left at the Texas 37. The result was McCoy’s first interception of the game, this one a killer pick-six that Cowboy cornerback Justin Gilbert returned 43 yards up the sideline to put the Horns in an insurmountable hole.

It also throws a major dent into any plans the Longhorns had of winning the Big 12. Now, instead of controlling their own destiny, the Longhorns need Baylor to beat Oklahoma State next week before facing the Bears themselves Dec. 7.

Even if that happens, Texas’ withering defense, slipping quarterback, and generally frail condition suggests last week’s win at West Virginia may have been their last. The Longhorns’ depleted themselves with numerous key injuries just in time to make these final three weeks against the Big 12’s best matter.

Texas proved deep and plucky enough to beat the likes of TCU, Kansas, West Virginia – and even No. 22 Oklahoma – on one leg, but it often takes two to stand like a champion.

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