NCAAF · Sat (10/16) @ 12:00pm ET
|Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX|
Our Pick: OKST Oklahoma State at +160. Get your $1000 First Deposit Match When You Sign Up With DraftKings!
Oklahoma State will enter this week’s game against Texas looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2015. Texas would love to give fans a reason to forget about the loss to Oklahoma by recording a big win over the No. 12 Cowboys. If Texas wants to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 title this season, this is a must-win game for them.
However, with how Oklahoma State is playing this season, beating them will certainly not be easy.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys are usually exactly what a Big 12 team is expected to be—a team with a high-octane scoring machine of an offense with a lackluster defense that struggles to stop anyone. That is what they have been for most of head coach Mike Gundy’s tenure. But that does not appear to be the case this year. Coming into the 2021 college football season, the Cowboys had a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball.
Quarterback Spencer Sanders was back, but Oklahoma State needed replacements on the offensive line, at wide receiver, and running back. So far, the rebuilt offensive line is doing an admirable job; the Cowboys rank 18th in the country in sacks allowed and second in the Big 12. At running back, Utah State transfer Jaylen Warren has rushed for 125, 123, and 218 yards in the three games he has been the featured back.
Tay Martin has emerged as the top target in the passing game with 100+ yards in each of the three games he has played in.
But what has been the driving force behind the Cowboys’ 5-0 start has been its defense. So far, it ranks 19th in total yards, allows 91 yards/game on the ground, and only 18.6 points a game (No. 24). They have played a bunch of lackluster offenses, though. But Baylor’s offense is one of the better in the country, and the Cowboys held them to 14 points last week.
Of course, holding back a running back like Bijan Robinson will not be easy. But the best defense against him may be getting their own offense rolling against a lackluster Longhorns’ defense.
The hardest part of Saturday’s game against the visiting Cowboys may not be the Oklahoma State defense or offense. No, it may very well be rebuilding their confidence after blowing a 28-7 lead against Oklahoma last week. Not only did their offensive production slowly peter away as the game went on, but the defense allowed Oklahoma to score 25 points in the fourth quarter.
But the Cowboys do not have an offense anywhere near as explosive as the Sooners. Oklahoma State does have a decent offensive line and a good running back-quarterback tandem, but their offense has not been overly impressive this season. So, maybe, the Longhorns will have better luck keeping a lid on the Cowboys offense. It is possible but will not come easy.
However, it will not matter how well the defense plays if they cannot get the offense rolling. Casey Thompson has thrown the ball well since taking over at quarterback, and Bijan Robinson may be the best running back in college football this season. However, the Oklahoma State defense played well against Baylor’s top-notch running game, so getting Robinson going could be easier said than done.
Of course, if Casey Thompson can get the passing game going, Robinson may have an easier time finding running lanes. But the Cowboys have a solid secondary, so that will not be easy, either.
The Longhorns are probably considered the favorites because of home-field advantage and the potential the Texas offense has shown it has. However, other contributing factors could be the insistent need many have to promote the Longhorns as one of the better teams in the country, whether they are or not.
Now, Texas is good. Robinson is a beast and Casey Thompson is an exciting young quarterback. But the defense has holes everywhere. Oklahoma State does not have the same kind of potential on offense, but the Cowboys have had a knack for finding ways to win this season. One week it is the passing game; in another, it is the run game. But then it has also been the defense.
So– how should you bet?
Beware the hype that seems to perpetually surround Texas. Take Oklahoma State to win via the moneyline. If you really believe in Texas, take them against the spread. Oklahoma State will keep the Texas offense from exploding, but this could be a close game if the Longhorns’ defense can return the favor. As for the total, it could go either way. Texas could explode on offense, and Oklahoma State will contribute enough to cover the over.
Or the Cowboys’ defense will stifle the Longhorns offense like Arkansas did, but without the offensive explosion that the Razorbacks had.