Since 2011, Oklahoma State is 3-2 over Texas and won those games by an average of 13 points per game. Last year in Austin, the Cowboys escaped with a 30-27 victory after a Texas botched snap on a punt. Texas has an extra week to prepare for this game after the Longhorns lost two weeks ago to CAL 50-43.
The Longhorns are averaging 44 points per game and have been very balanced rushing for 238 yards per game along with passing for 262 yards per game. Quarterback Shane Beuchele has completed 66% of his passes for 720 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Buechele has given the offense the spark it needed to stretch opposing defenses vertically. Last year, the offense averaged 145 passing yards per game and scored 26 points per game. In the team’s 7 losses, it passed for 2 touchdowns and threw 6 interceptions. Beuchele has been solid in making reads and has a great touch on his passes, however, in the team’s loss to CAL he made freshman mistakes that cost his team the game.
Running back Dont’a Foreman leads the team with 288 rushing yards with 3 touchdowns on the ground. He will need to be a factor this week against the Cowboys in order to take the pressure off of Beuchele. If the running game is a non factor early the offense will become one dimensional.
Texas must start fast on the road and allow play makers like wide receiver John Burt (12 receptions 175 yards with 1 touchdown) the opportunity to make plays down the field.
Defensively, the Longhorns are allowing 34 points per game more than last year’s 30 points per game. This was supposed to be the strength of the team entering the season and through the first four weeks, the unit is giving up 150 rushing yards per game along with 235 passing yards per game. The unit will be challenged by a potent passing attack by the Cowboys and quarterback Mason Rudolph. Last year, the secondary allowed 233 passing yards per game which was the highest total since the 2008 season when they allowed 259 passing yards per game.
Texas is -3 in turnover margin and must be able to win the turnover battle this Saturday on the road. Last year, the team was +11, but was +12 at home and -1 on the road. That trend cannot continue this weekend. The front seven has recorded 11 sacks so far this year.
The Cowboys played well enough to win last week in Waco but made key mistakes inside the redzone losing 35-24. Oklahoma State is averaging 39 points per game and have been a pass heavy offense that is passing for 340 yards per game while only rushing for 126 yards per game. Quarterback Mason Rudolph is an experienced signal caller that has completed 61% of his passes for 1,296 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Running back Justice Hill leads the team with 211 rushing yards with one score. The lack of success of the running game could be explained by the loss of former quarterback J.W Walsh. Walsh, was a tough runner that was utilized in read options that allowed the Cowboys offense to put pressure on opposing defenses. In his absence, the offense has not been the same type of up-tempo attack that we saw last year.
Oklahoma State boasts two of the top wide receivers in the conference in James Washington and Jaylen McCleskey. Both players are athletic with the speed to take the top off of the defense. On the year, the duo have combined for 48 receptions for 712 yards with 4 touchdowns. Look for both players to attack a suspect Longhorns secondary this weekend.
Oklahoma State’s offensive line has allowed 14 sacks so far this season and must be able to protect Rudolph to give him time to locate his receivers.
Defensively, the Cowboys have been very solid in run support and are giving up 143 rushing yards per game. The unit is allowing 27 points per game and 274 passing yards through the air.
The Cowboys are +1 in turnover margin and have recorded 9 sacks on the year. However, to win this game they must be able to shut down the run and force Beuchele into short to intermediate throws underneath coverage.
Look for Oklahoma State to blitz early on to force Beuchele into mistakes on the road.