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OSU Football: Texas Preview

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Down a game in Big 12 play, the pressure is on for Oklahoma State to stay in the conference race when the Cowboys host No. 22 Texas on Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium, an 11:00 a.m. kickoff.

In one of the weirdest streaks in college football, the road team has won seven straight in this series.

The Longhorns (2-1) have had an extra week of rest since falling to Cal 50-43 on Sept. 17th. The Texas offense, behind running backs Chris Warren III and D’Onta Foreman, got off to a hot start scoring on each of its first four possessions before Cal climbed back in the game. The two star running backs lead the Big 12 in rushing yards per game with Foreman averaging 144 and Warren III averaging 86 rushing yards per contest.

At quarterback, Texas may have finally found their quarterback in Shane Buechele. The true freshman has completed 66 percent of his passes for 720 yards and seven touchdowns through three games and has distributed the ball evenly between his top five targets, which includes former quarterback Jerrod Heard. UT coach Charlie Strong brings in bruising backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes for short yardage situations, calling it the “18-wheeler package.”

Defensively, the Longhorns have a stout linebacking crew with star outside linebacker Malik Jefferson leading the way. They are susceptible in the secondary, however, and Mason Rudolph is every bit as good as Davis Webb, who threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns against Texas.

The Cowboys (2-2, 0-1) are riding a two-game weather delay streak. Despite the loss to Baylor, due in large part to a pair of costly fumbles by freshman Justice Hill, there’s reason for optimism with OSU’s much-maligned ground game. For the second week in a row, the Cowboys had a 100+ yard rusher. That hasn’t happened since Joseph Randle did it in 2012. Hill looks to be the best option, assuming his fumbling issues have been corrected.

Baylor did a good job of containing James Washington and Texas could employ a similar strategy when defending Oklahoma State’s dynamic receiver. Mason Rudolph was sharp, throwing for 279 yards against Baylor and was excellent on third down, but he failed to find the end zone for the first time this season. On Monday, Mike Gundy mentioned the Cowboy Backs need to get the ball more often.

Last year’s meeting ended in a wild, 30-27 OSU win after Texas punter Michael Dickson dropped the snap deep in Longhorn territory and just managed to get off a shank that went for just 10 yards. Ben Grogan was able to kick the game-winning field goal with six seconds remaining.

Oklahoma State should be able to score on Saturday, but the win will depend on the Cowboy defense and its ability to slow down UT’s high-powered rushing attack and limit Buechele’s throwing options.

OSU Player To Watch – Justice Hill needs the ball in his hands, he just needs to keep it there. Look for Gundy to try to build the freshman’s confidence early.

Texas Player To Watch – Malik Jefferson is a must-watch player when he steps on the football field. Oklahoma State’s offensive line must protect Mason Rudolph from Jefferson when UT blitzes.

Prediction – Oklahoma State breaks the home team curse and wins 35-28.

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