Texas vs. Oklahoma State Football: Complete Game Preview
Who: Texas at Oklahoma State
When: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 at 6:50 p.m. CST
Where: Stillwater, OK
Stadium: Boone Pickens Stadium
Radio: Longhorn Sports Network Radio, Royal Purple Road Radio in Stillwater 87.9 FM
The Longhorns (3-0) and Cowboys (2-1) open up their Big 12 schedules after going through bye weeks.
Both have flashed explosive offenses, Oklahoma State more than Texas, but both teams' defenses have looked very vulnerable through three games. If those same issues develop in Stillwater, it might be a race to 60 points to determine a winner.
Check out the complete preview of the matchup in Stillwater.
Depth Chart for Texas
QB: David Ash, Case McCoy
RB: Joe Bergeron OR Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray
WR: Jaxon Shipley, Bryant Jackson
WR: Mike Davis, Kendall Sanders
WR: Marquise Goodwin, D.J. Monroe
LT: Donald Hawkins, Kennedy Estelle
LG: Trey Hopkins, Sedrick Flowers
C: Dom Espinosa, Garrett Porter
RG: Mason Walters, Thomas Ashcraft
RT: Josh Cochran, Luke Poehlmann
DE (Buck): Jackson Jeffcoat, Cedric Reed
DE (Strong): Alex Okafor, Reggie Wilson
DT: Brandon Moore, Ashton Dorsey
DT: Desmond Jackson, Chris Whaley
SLB: Demarco Cobbs, Tevin Jackson
MLB: Steve Edmond, Dalton Santos
WLB: Jordan Hicks, Kendall Thompson
CB: Quandre Diggs, Duke Thomas
FS: Kenny Vaccaro, Josh Turner
SS: Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson
CB: Carrington Byndom, Sheroid Evans
PK: Nick Jordan OR Nick Rose
P: Alex King, William Russ
Depth Chart for Oklahoma State
QB: J.W. Walsh, Wes Lunt
RB: Joseph Randle, Jeremy Smith
WR: Isaiah Anderson, Charlie Moore
WR: Tracy Moore, C.J. Curry
WR: Josh Stewart, John Goodlett
LT: Parker Graham, Devin Davis
LG: Jonathan Rush, Brandon Webb
C: Evan Epstein, Jake Jenkins
RG: Lane Taylor, Eli Dickerson
RT: Daniel Koenig, Chris Grisbhy
DE: Cooper Bassett, Nigel Nicholas
DE: Ryan Robinson, Tyler Johnson
DT: James Castleman, Anthony Rogers
DT: Calvin Barnett, Davidell Collins
SLB: Caleb Lavey, Ryan Simmons
MLB: Alex Elkins, DeMarcus Sherod
WLB: Shaun Lewis, Joe Mitchell
CB: Brodrick Brown, Kevin Peterson
FS: Shamiel Gary, Lavocheya Cooper
SS: Daytawion Lowe, Zack Craig
CB: Justin Gilbert, Ashton Lampkin
PK: Quinn Sharp, Bobby Stonebraker
P: Quinn Sharp, Michael Reichenstein
What Happened to the Longhorns Last Week
The Longhorns went through a bye week, but not before slashing through Ole Miss in a 66-31 win in Oxford.
Texas flexed its offensive potential, eating up yards on the ground and through the air. But defensively, the Horns were still suspect to the big play.
Poor tackling and discipline were the root causes for Texas' defensive miscues, and it seems only natural to believe that the coaching staff harped on those fundamentals during the off weekend.
Onto the injury report, linebacker Jordan Hicks, who suffered a hip injury against the Rebels, is listed as the starter on the depth chart for the weekend. That could lend belief to him being a game-time decision, but if he can't go, Texas will have to get creative with a unit that has performed below the hype.
What Happened to the Cowboys Last Week
Like the Longhorns, the Cowboys went through a bye week as well, but their defensive woes are much more significant.
Offensively, Oklahoma State is the top scoring offense in Division I, racking up over 62 points per game. But after shutting out Savannah State in its home opener, OSU gave up 59 points in a losing effort to Arizona. A week later, the Cowboys beat Louisiana-Lafayette, but not before allowing 24 points to the Ragin' Cajuns.
When Texas and Oklahoma State met last season in Austin, the Cowboys were not defensively stout either.
Perhaps in their off week this season, some defensive improvements will reveal themselves.
What It Means to Both Teams
For both teams, it is a chance to start off strong in the Big 12. Securing a win over the other means an important win in the conference, but it also looks to build momentum.
The Longhorns will face West Virginia, Oklahoma and Baylor in the three weeks after, so a 1-0 start could lead into something much better for Texas.
The Pokes have Kansas, Iowa State and TCU in the coming games, nowhere near as tough as Texas' schedule, but jumping to a 1-0 mark in conference is easy to build on when going against the Jayhawks.
Key Players for Texas: Linebackers
As much as the offense has had to step up its game, defensively, the linebackers will have to show up big time against the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle is a dynamic running back, and controlling his production will fall on the shoulders of a Texas linebacking unit that may be without Jordan Hicks.
It is a game that will feature plenty of youth and inexperience at the position, and if the young guys cannot hold down the fort over the middle, it could get ugly for Texas.
Key Player for Oklahoma State: Joseph Randle
With the Cowboys having lost quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon to the NFL, the offense has sputtered.
But star running back Joseph Randle is making his own case as a dynamic option for OSU's offense, and the junior has run for at least 100 yards in his three games this season. With 50 carries for 335 yards, he looks the part of an explosive playmaker.
Randle's contributions on Saturday will be a big part of what the Cowboys are able to do with some limitations at the quarterback position.
Of course, their defense must play well, but it will be Randle's exploits that will have the biggest impact in a win.
Texas Will Win If...
Texas wins if it stops the run.
Forcing J.W. Walsh or Wes Lunt, whichever takes the field, into a one-dimensional look will challenge the young quarterbacks to test the air, a prime time for the Longhorns to rekindle their fortunes in the secondary.
By taking away Joseph Randle and his impact on the ground, Texas would have eliminated a huge chunk of the Cowboys offense.
The Longhorns will probably move the ball well against a generally lackluster defense, so managing the ground game for OSU will be critical.
Oklahoma State Will Win If...
The Cowboys will win if they manage to take away one dimension of the Texas offense.
If Texas cannot run the ball, the chances are that it will not be able to throw the ball. The Longhorns love to run to set up the pass, which was evident against Ole Miss, but if they are limited in what they can execute, they will struggle offensively.
Running the ball will be key, so with a Cowboy defense that has been suspect in recent years, stopping the Texas offense may be more important than scoring.
Prediction: 45-41 Texas
It will be a shootout in Stillwater as defense is thin, and it may be a simple case of better offenses against overmatched defenses.
If the Longhorns are able to open up their offense throughout the game, their offensive strengths should lead to the victory.
Texas boasts a much better overall defensive product, but when poor tackling and positioning are huge concerns, there is reason to throw that out the window.
Offensively, the Longhorns may just have too many options at the skill positions. The Cowboys will have to have someone other than Joseph Randle making big plays if OSU is to win.