Longhorns And Cowboys Open Big 12 Schedules
By: Willie Bee
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Both teams can soup up their uniforms all they want in Stillwater this Saturday, but it's still going to be a boring matchup as far as the colors go when the Texas Longhorns visit the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Orange, black and white will dominate the stands and the field at Boone Pickens Stadium when the clubs kick off a little before 8:00 p.m. (ET) in the prime-time FOX telecast. The game itself holds promise to be anything but boring, however.
Texas, ranked eighth on the Don Best Linemakers Poll, opened as a 2-point underdog on the college football odds slate, but that line has swung all the way around to the Longhorns laying 2½-3 points by midweek. An early 70-point total was swiftly knocked down to 66, still one of the higher totals among Saturday contests.
One reason for the line shift to Texas' favor is the status of Cowboys quarterback Wes Lunt. The freshman suffered a left knee injury early in Oklahoma State's 65-24 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15, and is listed as doubtful for Saturday's clash with the Longhorns.
Lunt is expected to resume practicing this week, but assuming he can't play, the Cowboys should still be in good hands under the direction of JW Walsh. Oklahoma State didn't seem to miss a beat when Walsh came on for Lunt two weeks ago, as the redshirt frosh threw for nearly 350 yards and four scores while adding another 73 yards on the ground along with a touchdown.
Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State (2-1 straight up & against the spread) come into the contest with the top-ranked offense in the country. Gundy's gang leads the nation in scoring (62.3 ppg) and total offense (686.7 ypg), and it's a balanced attack with more than 300 yards both rushing and passing per game.
That offense was mistake-prone in the loss at Arizona, however, and the Cowboys defense was unable to hold back the Wildcats after OSU built an early 14-zip lead. Arizona tallied 501 yards against Okie State, roughly the same number of yards allowed to lesser opponents Savannah State and ULL combined in the two wins.
Texas (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) also brings a potent attack into the contest, ranking 16th in total offense (514.3 ypg) and seventh in scoring (49.3). True soph David Ash is at the helm with outstanding numbers that include a 190.5 passer rating (3rd-best in the country) and seven TDs without throwing a pick.
It's the ground game that is the real forte for the Longhorns, churning out nearly 260 yards per game with a deep stable of ball carriers. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron have split most of the load, and come in with nearly equal stats for the year. They are spelled by Johnathan Gray and DJ Monroe, who has certainly made the most of his eight carries this season by scoring three times.
Like Gundy and Oklahoma State, Texas' Mack Brown has had two weeks to prepare for this conference opener for both schools, and the Longhorns enter the fray virtually injury-free. The only key player who may miss this game for UT is LB Jordan Hicks who is questionable for Saturday due to a hip injury he suffered in the win at Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago.
The Cowboys have won and covered the last two meetings, both times as road 'dogs in Austin. Texas reeled off 12 straight in the series before OSU pasted a 33-16 decision on the 'Horns in 2010, and holds a commanding 22-4 advantage all-time. The last six get-togethers have split the totals down the middle after string of three straight 'overs' from 2003-05. Texas has won seven of the eight tilts in Stillwater where the last four on T. Boone's gridiron have jumped the total.
Bettors will want to keep an eye on the latest weather reports; current forecasts call for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms for Stillwater on Saturday, with the thermometer in the low-70s for kickoff.