Heading into Saturday's game against Oklahoma State, Texas had won six games in a row despite numerous injuries to several of its key players.
That streak deserved some credit. The Longhorns, up against a narrative that questioned their toughness, showed plenty of resolve in the face of adversity.
Texas also faced some so-so opponents. A little Column A, a little Column B.
That all caught up to the 'Horns Saturday in the 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State. Though the loss doesn't technically eliminate Texas from a Big 12 title—a share is still possible—it does mean the 'Horns no longer control their destiny for an outright title and a BCS bowl berth.
Oklahoma State, on the other hand, is in the driver's seat. Win out against Baylor and Oklahoma, and the Pokes would hold a tie-breaker over the Bears or the Horns.
Yes, that would be the same Oklahoma State that, somehow, lost to West Virginia in late September.
But Mike Gundy's team has found its quarterback (Clint Chelf) and its running game (Desmond Roland). Roland had a modest 59 yards against Texas, taking a back seat to Chelf, who had 95 yards rushing and a pair of scores.
The improved ground game has made the Cowboys offense far more dangerous. Coupled with a defense that likes to force turnovers, Oklahoma State has transformed into one of the most complete teams in the conference.
That was evident Saturday. Oklahoma State was more balanced on offense (197 yards passing to 183 yards rushing) and was plus-two in turnover margin. Cowboys defensive back Justin Gilbert added another touchdown of his own with a back-breaking 43-yard interception return just before the half.
All of this, of course, was done without top receiver Josh Stewart, who did not make the trip to Austin.
With just three weeks left in the regular season, Oklahoma State should be considered the biggest threat to Baylor's Big 12 title hopes. Baylor has shown vulnerability against the run, albeit only briefly in a win over Kansas State. Additionally, any opportunity to take the ball away from the Bears' offense is critical to leveling the playing field.
Those are two areas where Oklahoma State excels.
The Bears can lose their game against Texas Tech in Arlington and still control their destiny by beating the Pokes on Nov. 23, TCU on Nov. 30 and Texas on Dec. 7. Regardless of whether Baylor wins or loses against the Red Raiders, a lot is going to be on the line next Saturday in Stillwater.
For a conference that's had its fair share of underwhelming games, Nov. 23 should be fun.
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