No. 12 Texas at Oklahoma State
Saturday, 7:50pm Eastern, Fox
Line: Texas -3
Alright folks, time to lace 'em up real tight, it's conference football season. Texas seems to be back, ranked 12th and whipping up opponents on the way to a 3-0 start to their season. Oklahoma State is putting up ridiculous offensive numbers but couldn't pass their one test against a BCS foe, getting stomped by Arizona out in Tucson.
All of that said, do we really know how good the 2012 Longhorns actually are? Has a young Oklahoma State team learned from it's loss to the Wildcats? This could end up being one of the more intriguing matchups of Week 5 and perhaps the most telling for these two programs all season long.
So, let's take a look at this Big 12 clash.
For Texas to Win: Texas hasn't been challenged at all in their three non-conference games, and yes I just said it, they weren't challenged by facing an SEC team. If it weren't for Kentucky, Ole Miss would be easily the worst team in the conference, but anyway. The Longhorns have been getting it done with a balanced offensive attack, but against the Cowboys they need to win by throwing the football.
In the loss to Arizona, OSU was exposed through the air defensively, giving up 320 yards. While Texas obviously doesn't run the same style of offense the passing game will still be key to winning as OSU has been stout against the run and that could be an issue for Texas.
The good news for Longhorn Nation is QB David Ash has looked very good through three weeks of action, completing 75% of his passes and having 7 touchdowns to no interceptions. If Texas wins this one it has to get it done through the air.
For Oklahoma State to Win: Keep doing what you are doing on offense. Seriously, outside of Oregon this could be the most explosive offense in the country. Let's not forget that they also put up a ton of points in the butt-kicking they got at Arizona, specifically they put up 38 points.
The other factor for them to win is to create defensive turnovers. Right now the team is averaging a bad -1.33 turnover margin. They need to win that battle and keep the Longhorn offense off the field any way possible. Forcing turnovers is the best way to do just that.
Key Player, Texas: I already mentioned his name, but it's David Ash. He's stepping it up a level in terms of the competition he'll face and he needs to show that he's up to the challenge on a week in and week out basis before I become a believer in this team. Ash has yet to throw an interception and has been crazy accurate, but let's see what he does against a defense that will be hungry to force turnovers.
Key Player, Oklahoma State: Wes Lunt, the freshman QB is easily the key player for the Pokes on Saturday night. It'll be his first Big 12 test and Texas' defense is one of the better against the pass so far on the season. He needs to show he's calm and can handle the situation. He actually was the glue holding this team together in the Arizona game, going 37-60 for 436 yards (11.8 yards a completion) so if he can draw off the experience he should be more than a survivor against Texas.
Key Stat: Zero – it's the number of sacks allowed by the Oklahoma State Cowboys. I don't care who you are playing, not giving up a sack through three games, one of which was a loss is a heck of an impressive feat. Texas' defensive pressure is a whole different animal though and lucky for the Pokes this one is at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Saturday in Stillwater will see two teams with a lot to prove knocking heads and by the end of the night our questions should be answered affirmative or negative on each of these teams. Either way, this one should be entertaining.