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Saturday, September 29, 7:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 12th-ranked Texas Longhorns hit the road for the second straight game as they pull into Stillwater for Saturday's Big 12 Conference opener against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Texas, which had a bye last week following a 66-31 win at Ole Miss on Sept. 15, is 12-2 in conference openers under current head coach Mack Brown. The Longhorns also have wins over Wyoming (37-17) and New Mexico (45-0) this season, and they have won 41 of their last 45 games in the month of September.
The 66 points put up by Texas two weeks ago marked the most surrendered by Ole Miss in the last 95 years, and it was the Longhorns' biggest scoring outburst since whipping Colorado in the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game, 70-3.
Brown liked the energy and focus his team had in the recent win, "I think our guys were extremely motivated and came out and played well. Our defense set the tone early and our offense followed. We gave up several big plays, but overall we played well."
Oklahoma State blew out FCS foe Savannah State in its season opener, 84-0, but fell the following week at Arizona, 59-38. Coach Mike Gundy's club rebounded to rout Louisiana in a 65-24 final on Sept. 15, and the Cowboys got an extra week as well to prepare for this game.
Gundy was obviously pleased with the way his team bounced back following the loss to Arizona, "We were disappointed in our play in the last game, and I had said that for a variety of reasons. Our team played well today, and we played efficient in all three phases. That's why the results are this way, but we have a lot of work ahead of us in different areas."
OSU, which has won five straight conference openers and will begin defense of its 2011 Big 12 title in this contest, has won eight straight home games overall -- its longest home winning streak since taking nine in a row back in 1984-85. Gundy is just one win shy of tying Pat Jones (62-60) as the all-time winningest coach in Oklahoma State history.
Texas owns a commanding 22-4 lead in the all-time series with Oklahoma State, which includes a 7-1 mark in Stillwater. Last year however, the Pokes claimed a 38-26 triumph in Austin to give Gundy just his second win in seven matchups with the 'Horns.
The Texas offense has been firing on all cylinders during the first month of the season, churning out 258.7 ypg on the ground and 255.7 ypg through the air. As a result, the Longhorns are scoring just shy of 50 ppg as foes continue to try and figure out a way to keep them at bay. QB David Ash has been the team's primary starter, and he has completed 76.4 percent of his passes for 703 yards and seven TDs. He has yet to throw an INT. Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley each have 12 receptions for a combined 304 yards and three scores, while the UT run game boasts a pair of capable backs in Malcolm Brown (238 yards, three TDs) and Joe Bergeron (207 yards, three TDs).
The Longhorns rolled up 676 yards of total offense in the win at Ole Miss, as Ash threw for a career-high 326 yards and four TDs. Davis and fellow WR Marquise Goodwin each caught a scoring pass and combined for 226 receiving yards. Goodwin added a rushing TD to his stat line, while Brown spearheaded the running attack with 128 yards and two scores. Texas did not commit a turnover.
Not content to let the offense grab all the headlines, the UT defense has stood tall this season in yielding just 16.0 ppg behind typical outputs of 148.3 ypg rushing and 180.0 ypg passing. The opposition has scored just five offensive TDs, and the 'Horns have come up with six INTs and seven sacks through three games. Jordan Hicks heads the unit with 23 tackles, although both Steve Edmond and Kenny Vaccaro are close behind with 22 and 20 stops, respectively. Jackson Jeffcoat has logged four of the team's 26 TFL thus far, and Alex Okafor has three sacks. Quandre Diggs has three picks, two of which he notched in the win over Ole Miss.
The Rebels generated 399 yards of total offense two weeks ago, but QB Bo Wallace threw three INTs and was sacked five times, all in just under 23 minutes of on-the-field action. In addition to Diggs' exploits, Okafor registered a pair of sacks.
Oklahoma State is averaging a whopping 62.3 ppg this season, the team having scored a combined 145 points in easy wins over Savannah State and Louisiana. The Cowboys have an abundance of talent at the skill positions, the most notable of which being RB Joseph Randle (335 yards, four TDs). Fellow backs Jeremy Smith (173 yards, four TDs) and Desmond Roland (160 yards, four TDs) have also performed well when given the chance, the team as a whole averaging 308.3 ypg on the ground and 7.0 ypc.
The play of QBs Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh have led to the team averaging 378.3 ypg through the air, and the two have combined to throw 10 TD passes and only four INTs. Josh Stewart has 19 receptions for 208 yards and two scores, while Blake Jackson has 12 grabs for 217 yards and a TD. Tracy Moore has a team-high four TD catches.
Walsh, who took over for the injured Lunt (knee) early in the blowout win over Louisiana, threw for 347 yards and four TDs, while adding 73 yards and another score on the ground. OSU scored on its first eight possessions to jump out to a 44-0 halftime lead, and continued to apply the pressure until the final second ticked off the clock. In the end, the Pokes set a new school record with 742 yards of total offense.
Stewart and Jackson both went over 100 yards receiving in the game, and they combined for three TD catches, while Randle rumbled his way to 105 yards and two scores on the ground.
The Cowboys have played well defensively in two of their three games this season, albeit against inferior competition, so the jury is still out on just how good the unit is overall. Their average yield of 27.7 ppg is far from ideal, but they have permitted just three passing TDs. The Pokes have come up with only six sacks and three turnovers to this point, but they have made 26 stops behind the line of scrimmage, and five guys have already hit double figures in total tackles.
The Ragin' Cajuns were limited to 110 rushing yards, but considering they were trailing almost immediately it didn't make much sense for them to try and establish the run. The Cowboys notched just one sack and one turnover, and no player tallied more than four tackles as Louisiana was forced to punt seven times and held the ball for nearly 10 minutes less than did Oklahoma State.
Expect a hard-fought battle between two teams that aren't about to roll over for the other. Walsh, who may be at it again with Lunt's status questionable, proved he has the goods to lead the Pokes to victory. But doing so against Louisiana is quite different than doing it against Texas, and the Longhorns will undoubtedly get after him. That leaves Randle and the OSU run game to keep them honest -- which is easier said than done. Add the fact that Ash and his offensive cohorts will likely get theirs, and that should give the visitors enough of an edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas 31, Oklahoma State 24
09/26 10:33:26 ET
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