Oklahoma State vs. Texas: 10 Things We Learned in the Longhorns' Loss
The Oklahoma State Cowboys ended the Texas Longhorns' perfect Big 12 run with a 38-13 drubbing in Austin. The 24th-ranked 'Horns will again fall out of the Top 25 and now need some serious help to emerge on top of the Big 12.
It was fun while it lasted.
The Longhorns were predictable on offense and could not do enough on defense to slow down the Cowboys. Clint Chelf was dominant in the Pokes' win, accounting for four touchdowns and 296 total yards of offense.
Not only does the loss take Texas off the national radar, it puts head coach Mack Brown right back on the nation's hottest seat.
Now it's back to reality for a program that can't help but disappoint in big moments.
We Have Been Kidding Ourselves with Case McCoy
Just like Texas' six-game winning streak, Case McCoy's unlikely tear through the Big 12 came to an end on Saturday. His performance against the No. 12 Pokes should taper fans' expectations of him moving forward.
Make no mistake. The 'Horns would not have ever had an undefeated Big 12 record without McCoy.
Between his game-winning sneak against Iowa State and his lights-out performance against Oklahoma, the world of college football began to fall in love with McCoy's style of play. He was small, unconventional and oddly confident in leading Texas into the teeth of its conference schedule.
That sentiment reached new heights last week, as he led his team to a comeback win over West Virginia in overtime. After that, how could he not be destined for a BCS bowl?
Well, he could throw three interceptions against Oklahoma State at home. That would probably do it.
Try as he may, McCoy could not pull off the magic for a second straight week. His pick-six gave the Cowboys an 18-point halftime lead, and he threw two more trying to battle back.
There is a lot to love about McCoy, but he has never had the ability to single-handedly lead this team to a win. Anyone who has watched him play over the past four years already knew that.
Mack Brown Is Right Back on the Hot Seat
Even with his program marching back up the rankings, Brown's job at Texas was far from secure. After another double-digit loss, he's right back on the hot seat.
Brown entered Saturday's matchup 11 wins behind Darrell K Royal for most in the history of the program. He was also carrying an 8-9 record in his past 17 home games, and a 29-18 overall record since 2009.
After being totally unprepared for Chelf's rushing abilities and failing to make significant adjustments at halftime, those 11 wins could not seem farther away. At this rate, he may not get them until 2015. That is, if he gets one last chance.
As of now, the writing is on the wall that we are watching the end of Brown at Texas. No coach who ever has an 8-10 streak at the stadium named after Royal should be allowed to pass him on the all-time wins list.
The Injuries Are Starting to Hurt
The Longhorns have been overcoming injuries all season. Against Oklahoma State, it seems they have finally reached the limit of what they can handle.
Right tackle Josh Cochran has been out since Week 3 and the Longhorns haven't missed a beat. Linebacker Jordan Hicks has been out since Week 4 and Texas recovered. Quarterback David Ash went down the same week, and the 'Horns have been undefeated since.
Then the 'Horns lost both star tailback Johnathan Gray and defensive tackle Chris Whaley against West Virginia. And in Saturday's loss, both were sorely missed.
In lieu of Whaley, Oklahoma State racked up 183 rushing yards while not allowing the Texas front to sack Chelf. Without Gray's big-play ability, the Longhorns could only muster 3.5 yards per carry.
Every team deals with injuries, but every team can also only take so much. After losing two of the best players from its front seven and its two best offensive players, Texas has clearly lost a step on both sides of the ball.
Being Ranked Is Not Such a Good Thing?
After starting 1-2, Texas had a long climb back into the Top 25. Considering how they've played when they've been ranked, the Longhorns should be in no rush to get back there.
In three games in which it has been ranked this season, Texas is 1-2 with its one win coming against New Mexico State. In its two losses, Brown's team has been outscored 78-34.
Maybe that's why it took so long for voters to put them back in the rankings.
The Home-Field Advantage Is All but Gone
This was mentioned earlier and bears repeating. After Saturday's loss, the Longhorns are 8-10 in their past 18 home games.
Texas fans have developed a reputation for showing up late and leaving early over the past four seasons. To combat that trend, a video entitled "Turn Up DKR" was circulated this week asking fans to "do their part."
They did their part, but it made little difference as their beloved 'Horns fell behind by 18 at the half. By the end of the third quarter, the rout was on and many of the faithful were making their way for the exits.
Sure, this is another example of Texas' increasingly fickle fanbase. But since when is that news? These people live in Austin, not College Station—they have better things to do than watch their disappointing team get flogged on a sunny afternoon.
If Texas expects fans to stay the whole 60 minutes, it needs to do better than 8-10.
Greg Robinson Is Not a Fix-All
Much of Texas' turnaround was credited to Greg Robinson, who had this defense playing its best football in two years. He is not solely to blame for what took place on Saturday, though the loss proves that he is not the fix-all many built him up to be.
Robinson's defense was not stellar against the Cowboys, but it wasn't awful either. It held the Cowboys below their season averages for points and total yardage. Remove McCoy's pick-six and his other pick that set the Pokes up at the Texas 21, and this defense did enough to give this team a chance.
That's the thing. Both sides of the ball have to be good, especially when you are riding a backup quarterback. He's done a great job, but Robinson can't do it by himself.
The Tyrone Swoopes Fan Club Is Only Getting Bigger
If there is one positive from Texas' 25-point loss, it is a solid series from backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. Given that and McCoy's struggles, the number of people pining for his increased role will only increase.
Swoopes' third game in mop-up duty was easily his most impressive. He completed three of his four passes for 17 yards, and he ran for another 22 in driving Texas 55 yards down the field.
Those numbers aren't going to earn Swoopes a SportsCenter segment, but he looked good nonetheless. He threw tight, accurate spirals on all three of his completions. His one incompletion came on a go route to Mike Davis, which he also put in the right place.
Sure it was a meaningless drive and provides a mostly meaningless sample size. It was also the most excited fans got for the entire second half.
The reasons for keeping Swoopes on the sidelines are dwindling by the game, especially if Texas lays another egg against Texas Tech.
Too Many Bubble Screens
If Texas wasn't running Malcolm Brown or Joe Bergeron into a wall, it was running a two-yard bubble screen. At least that's what it felt like.
For much of the game, and almost the entire first half, Major Applewhite was ultra-conservative on offense. You knew he had to establish the run with Brown and Bergeron, but his repeated usage of screen passes to the wide receivers was puzzling.
No receiver's production paid for this more than Marcus Johnson's. The sophomore standout, who was averaging 23.5 yards per catch, caught four balls for four yards the entire game. His first three catches, all on screens, went for minus-four yards.
This team is supposed to be built on speed, and instead the team's downfield threats were either catching it in the backfield or trying to block a screen. Tentative, to say the least.
Applewhite eventually opened it up in the second half, and Mike Davis rewarded him with a 41-yard reception on Texas' first drive. Talk about too little, too late.
Oklahoma State Can Ride Clint Chelf
Oklahoma State's quarterback position has been a revolving door these past two seasons. Thanks to senior Clint Chelf, the Cowboys finally have someone that they can rely on.
Going up against a tough defense with a relentless pass rush, Chelf could have easily been a train wreck against Texas. Instead, he put up a career-high 95 rushing yards and completed almost 73 percent of his passes, accounting for four touchdowns.
After four dominant wins in a row, Chelf has proved to his coaches that he can lead this team down the stretch run. More than that, he proved that he can be a dangerous playmaker with his dual-threat performance in Austin.
Texas Still Has Not Solved the Dual-Threat Quarterback
Chelf marks the third quarterback to put up career-best rushing numbers against the Longhorns in 2013.
With his 95 rushing yards, Chelf joins Iowa State's Sam B. Richardson and BYU's Taysom Hill as quarterbacks to set career highs against Texas this season. And once he found success with his legs, completing 73 percent of his passes came easy.
Against Oklahoma and TCU, Texas seemed to make significant strides against mobile quarterbacks. But Blake Bell and Trevone Boykin are both below-average passers. Chelf and Richardson are both solid arms, and each gave Texas fits.
It will be interesting to see if Texas Tech or Baylor let their more traditional quarterbacks test the Longhorns with their legs as well.