Undefeated and 12th-ranked Oklahoma State will travel south to battle wounded and desperate No. 25 Texas on Saturday at Austin in a game that is crucial to both teams in the race for the Big 12 Conference title.
The Cowboys (5-0, 2-0) retained their spot at No. 12 after an open date last week. Oklahoma State’s most recent game was a 24-14 home victory over then-No. 21 Baylor on Oct. 2.
Oklahoma State’s Jaylen Warren rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries, including a 4-yard scoring run with about two minutes left to cement the win.
Warren has at least 123 yards on the ground in each of the Cowboys’ past three games.
Spencer Sanders amassed 258 yards of total offense, passing for 182 yards and a touchdown and running for 76 more, but he also had three interceptions that kept Baylor in the game.
Oklahoma State has won its first five games for the first time since 2015. If it beats Texas, it will be a third consecutive win over a ranked team, something the Cowboys have never done.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy understands the trip to Austin and playing the Longhorns will be a big challenge.
“I keep mentioning each week that as we keep going, the teams we play are better,” Gundy said. “Texas will be the most athletic team we’ve competed against so far. We all know that in this league, defensively, one of the most important things that we can accomplish is minimize the big plays. And I would prefer not to get in a shootout with them.”
Oklahoma State has won seven of the past 11 games against the Longhorns and is 5-1 in games in Austin since 2010.
“You can win if your talent level on paper is not the same, but you have to have enough good players to keep yourself in the game somehow, which we’ve done in the last 10 years,” Gundy explained. “Once we were able to win some of those games, we developed the confidence that everything is going to be OK. Let’s just go play.”
The Longhorns are on the ropes after a 55-48 loss to then-No. 6 Oklahoma last week at Dallas, dropping four spots from their previous ranking.
Texas (4-2, 2-1) led 28-7 after one quarter and still was up by 18 points late in the third quarter before the Sooners produced one of the biggest comebacks in the storied rivalry between the two teams.
“There’s not a lot of time in our sport, the way the turnaround is, for the ‘poor mes,’ the ‘woe is mes,'” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. “No one is feeling sorry for us. I kind of like these challenges, quite frankly. This is when you learn a lot about yourselves.”
Oklahoma’s comeback spoiled impressive performances from Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson (388 yards and five touchdowns passing), running back Bijan Robinson (137 yards and a touchdown) and receiver Xavier Worthy (261 yards and two TDs on nine catches).
Texas is in fourth place in the conference, behind Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. Another loss could doom the Longhorns’ chances at playing in the Big 12 Championship game – perhaps against the Sooners – at the end of the regular season.
“We have to recognize what our goals are,” Sarkisian said. “We’d all love to win a Big 12 championship. We’d all love the opportunity to play Oklahoma again, but none of that can occur if we don’t handle business Saturday.”
This will be the first time both teams are ranked when playing each other since 2013.
–Field Level Media