Big 12 Report: No. 20 Texas focused as showdown with No. 11 Oklahoma State looms

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock (13467635t) Texas linebacker Jaylan Ford (41) celebrates after he recovered an Iowa State fumble late in the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Austin, Texas Iowa St Texas Football, Austin, United States – 15 Oct 2022

Big 12 Report: No. 20 Texas focused as showdown with No. 11 Oklahoma State looms

After surviving a scare and eeking out a win against Iowa State, the Texas Longhorns have turned their attention to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

After the win that some may say was ugly, head coach Steve Sarkisian praised his team’s effort, “We did not play well,” he said, “but what I loved was the fight. A year ago, we do not win that game.”

Throughout the season and a half that Sarkisian has been at the helm in Austin, the biggest criticism of his teams has been the inability to finish games. As ugly as the win against the Cyclones may have been, it reflects a change in culture around the Texas program. The fact that the Horns stepped forward and made the plays that were critical to securing the victory on a day that didn’t always break Texas’ way indicates a change in the mindset of the team. “This was a good culture win for us because it wasn’t easy,” Sarkisian said.

Linebacker Jaylon Ford was recognized as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Iowa State. Ford recorded an interception in the red zone and recovered a fumble late in the game as Iowa State was driving to potentially take the lead. Both plays prevented Cyclone scores and were instrumental in securing the win for the Longhorns. Ford also chipped in eight tackles to pace the Texas defense.

This week Texas will face off against No. 11 Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The 5-1 Cowboys are a strong offensive team that will test the Texas defense as much as any team they have faced all year. The offense is led by quarterback Spencer Sanders, who Sarkisian referred to as an “elite competitor.” Sanders has thrown for 1,639 yards with 13 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions.  

The game could devolve into an old fashioned Big 12 shootout as the Oklahoma State defense ranks 126 against the pass and 75 in scoring defense. Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers has a first-class deep threat in Xavier Worthy, but the Longhorns have also begun to discover complimentary threats such as Jordan Whittington and JT Sanders. Combine that with the threat of the Texas run game and we could have a track meet on our hands.

Around the Big 12

No. 8 Oklahoma State fell to No. 13 TCU 43-40 in two overtimes. The Cowboys led the Horned Frogs 24-7 in the second quarter but were unable to withstand the TCU rally. Max Duggan led the Horned Frogs to the win completing 23 of 40 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. The win keeps TCU undefeated and atop the Big 12 standings. TCU will face No. 17 Kansas State next.

Oklahoma rebounded from Red River with a big win against No. 19 Kansas 52-42. Dillon Gabriel returned from injury and threw for 403 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Sooners. Kansas was without starting quarterback Jalon Daniels leaving backup Jason Bean to step in. He threw for 265 yards and four scores in defeat. This week, Kansas will face Baylor and Oklahoma will have a bye.

A field goal with 33 seconds remaining gave West Virginia a narrow win over Baylor 43-40. Mountaineer running back Tony Mathis rushed for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries as he stepped up in the absence of leading rusher CJ Donaldson. Despite amassing 509 yards of offense, Baylor dropped its second consecutive conference game, and lost starting quarterback Blake Shapen to an apparent concussion. Conversely, West Virginia has won three of its last four games and has righted the ship after an 0-2 start. Next week, Baylor will host Kansas and West Virginia will travel to Texas Tech.

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