Save a Longhorn, Ride a Cowboy: Texas Must Beat Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

Mark CrystelContributor IIINovember 10, 2010

Texas QB Garrett Gilbert threw five interceptions last game.  The good news:  he's not likely to do that again in consecutive games.
Texas QB Garrett Gilbert threw five interceptions last game. The good news: he's not likely to do that again in consecutive games.Eric Francis/Getty Images

"We aren’t a very good football team right now."

That’s what Florida’s coach Urban Meyer said after the Gators scored seven points in a loss to Mississippi State, their third loss in a row.

At this point, those words seem like they were muttered years ago as the Gators have climbed back into the "top 25." With a win over South Carolina and a berth in the SEC Championship, those words will seem like a distant memory.

Texas made it to the BCS championship game last season, but a loss at Kansas State last week has dropped their record to 4-5. Like Florida recently, the Longhorns come in with a three-game losing streak.

What’s even more surprising is the Longhorns have lost their last three home games as well.

Texas coach Mack Brown said after the Kansas State game: "We are lacking confidence right now."

That sounds a bit like what Urban Meyer said about his Florida Gators. Then Florida went on to defeat Georgia and blew out Vanderbilt last week.

Can the Texas Longhorns turn their season around too?

This isn’t the first time this season they have been written off.

Back in early October, the Longhorns went into Nebraska after suffering a two-game losing streak, including a 22-point home loss to UCLA as more than a two-touchdown favorite.

Going into Lincoln as a 10-point underdog to face a red hot Nebraska team, Mack Brown had a plan.

Knowing Nebraska’s defense was strong and quick, he had his offense run spread formations to stretch out the Nebraska defense, while figuring out a way to keep Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and his unit in check.

It worked, and the Longhorns came out of Lincoln with a seven-point win. It also spoiled the Huskers' chance at revenge from last season's Big 12 championship game where Texas beat them on a last-second field goal.

Less than a month later, the Longhorns find themselves in a similar situation. But this time, they are at home.

Oklahoma State, despite losing several key players from last season, has excelled this season, especially on offense. With new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen from Houston, along with quarterback Brandon Weeden taking the snaps, the Cowboys are averaging nearly 550 yards of offense per game, 177 yards more than Texas.

The Longhorns have the edge on defense, however, as the unit is giving up 267 yards per game, 146 yards less than the Cowboys. They also held Texas Tech and Nebraska to one offensive touchdown.

As good as the Cowboys’ offense is, you never know what can happen in the Big 12. Back in 2008, Missouri was 5-0 and averaging 55 points per game. Even more impressive, the team had not  attempted a punt. They seemed unstoppable, but lost their next game at home, as a 14-point favorite.

Ironically, the team that beat them was Oklahoma State.

It’s not that Texas isn’t a good football team, but rather it’s mistakes and turnovers. The Longhorns have out-gained each and every opponent this season. In their three most recent losses, they out gained each opponent by at least 100 yards.

The problem is miscues, as they are (-12) in turnover margin this season, including five interceptions at Kansas State. That’s not likely to happen again this week, especially at home.

If the Longhorns can clean up the turnovers, they’ll have an excellent shot at winning this game and getting back on track, just as Florida did after their loss to Mississippi State.

History is on their side. Austin, Texas is a tough place for opponents to win consistently, as the Longhorns haven’t lost four consecutive home games in over 50 years.