Oklahoma State travels to Texas on Saturday in an all-of-the-sudden hyped up game, mostly thanks to UT’s breakout star, quarterback Jerrod Heard. More on him later.
But to many, it still doesn’t have the feel that a Texas matchup would have had in the past. The Longhorns have fallen off the face of the college football earth in the past few seasons. Wins have dipped, attendance has struggled, and the mystique is gone.
The Horns simply haven’t looked the same ever since Colt McCoy led them to the BCS Championship Game in 2009. Ever since that loss to Alabama, Texas is 37-30 overall. And if you exclude their 10-2 mark against non-Power Five schools, the Horns are just 27-28 overall. To many, playing, and beating Texas doesn’t come with the same fervor it once did.
Don’t tell that to Oklahoma State.
“It’s still the University of Texas,” offensive lineman Zach Crabtree said. “Whoever we play in the Big 12, every one of those teams can win week in and week out. I don’t know if it matters that [Texas] is down. When you look at the past, they still have athletes, they still have good players. I’m from the state of Texas, about two and a half hours from Austin. I got boys down there playing that I know, and they’ve got a lot of guys down there.”
OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph will look to lead the Cowboys to their fourth straight win in Austin. This would have been an unthinkable accomplishment 30, 20 or even 10 years ago, but it’s 100 percent real, and Rudolph can’t wait.
“It’ll be a great challenge and a great atmosphere,” Rudolph said. “I try to have the same mindset going into every game. It is a challenge. It’s fun to play. It’s what every quarterback wants to do is to play in front of a big crowd. It’s obviously going to be a hostile environment and we’ll see how our guys will adapt to that. I think it’s going to be a tough road game.”
One reason for Texas’ struggles has been quarterback play. From Garrett Gilbert to Case McCoy, to Tyrone Swoops, the Horns haven’t had a consistent general in years. But now, after a pair of explosive performances by the freshman Heard, Texas fans can feel hopeful again, and Saturday’s game has regained some hype.
“For me, I love being at home. The atmosphere at Boone Pickens is great,” OSU defensive back Tre Flowers said. “But silencing 100,000 would be even better.”
After all, it’s still Texas.