AUSTIN, TEXAS – APRIL 24: Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the Texas Longhorns reacts during the Texas Football Orange-White Spring Game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
No. 20 Texas (5-2) v. No. 11 Oklahoma State (5-1)
When: October 22, 2022
Gametime: 2:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: ABC/Longhorns Radio Network, SiriusXM 83
What’s at Stake: Texas will finish the season with a five-game journey through the heart of the Big 12. All of the Longhorns’ final five opponents have already won at least five games, and they all are vying for the conference title.
This stretch begins with a trip to Stillwater to take on the high-octane Oklahoma State offense. To stay in contention for the conference championship, the Texas defense must find a way to contain the Cowboys. Meanwhile, after suffering their first loss last week, Oklahoma State will be desperate not to fall out of the Big 12 championship chase themselves.
When the Longhorns have the ball: While the Oklahoma State offense has proven to be extremely prolific, the Cowboy defense has struggled, especially against the pass, ranking 126th nationally. This weakness should provide opportunities for the Texas offense and quarterback Quinn Ewers to find room to make big plays. Ewers is coming off a less-than-stellar effort against Iowa State and should be motivated to get the Longhorn offense back into high gear. Wide receiver Xavier Worthy has proven to be a big play threat and should draw attention in the secondary that could open up other targets such as Jordan Whittington and JT Sanders.
Of course, Oklahoma State also has to contend with the bruising Longhorn running game. If the Cowboys focus too much attention on shoring up the back end, running back, Bijan Robinson will run wild. Robinson is riding a five-game streak of amassing at least 100 yards rushing, and his streak is not likely to end this week.
This should qualify as a big game for the Longhorns, and head coach Steve Sarkisian generally creates an innovative attack in games deserving of that status. Look for Sarkisian to script Texas’ first few drives probing and exploiting weaknesses he has studied in the Cowboy’s defense.
When Oklahoma State has the ball: The Oklahoma State offense might be the toughest test the Longhorn defense has faced all season. When Cowboy quarterback Spencer Sanders is on, Oklahoma State can score and score in bunches. Sanders has thrown for 1,639 yards and 13 touchdowns this season against only three interceptions. Sanders is battling a shoulder injury he suffered in a victory over Texas Tech two weeks ago. The injury seemed to limit Sanders’ accuracy last week against TCU; he only completed 16 of 36 passes. Sanders’ health could go a long way in determining how effective the Cowboys will be on Saturday.
Texas’ defense has improved this year but has still been inconsistent getting stops on key downs that would end drives. The Longhorns’ only loss in conference play came against Texas Tech when the Longhorns allowed the Red Raiders to convert six of eight fourth down conversion attempts. This same issue surfaced again last week against Iowa State as the Cyclones converted on 60% of their third downs and picked up a fourth-down conversion as well. Texas was able to get enough stops to win the game, but the Cyclones’ efficiency kept the game close. For Texas to defeat Oklahoma State, they will have to be much better on these money downs.
Cornerback Ryan Watts suffered an injury against Iowa State but practiced this week and should be available for the game.
Key Horns to Watch: Everyone knows that Ewers, Robinson, and Worthy will make plays on offense, and it is a safe bet that Texas will score points against Oklahoma State.
The key players in determining this matchup will be found on the Horns’ defense. Leaders like DeMarvion Overshown and Jaylon Ford will be counted on to step up themselves and inspire the play of those around them in the big moments.
The Bottom Line: Texas is the more complete team in this matchup. Oklahoma State can score points, but if the Longhorn defense can hold serve, Texas should come out on top.