Oklahoma State at Texas is this week’s best matchup in the Big 12.
GAME OF THE WEEK Oklahoma State at Texas
When: 6:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday Where: Royal Memorial Stadium, Austin TV: ABC
KEYS FOR OKLAHOMA STATE
Stay balanced: Texas’ defense tries to eliminate the run game and then heat up quarterbacks with exotic blitzes from linebackers and defensive backs. That strategy can’t work if Chuba Howard experiences success running the football. Quarterback Spencer Sanders is also a threat to run. Oklahoma State can eliminate much of what Texas wants to do defensively by winning the early downs with the run game to set up manageable third downs.
Hit Sam Ehlinger: Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger looks at ease playing quarterback at Texas in his third year in the same system. No team this year, including LSU, has made him uncomfortable. Oklahoma State can’t sit back and let Ehlinger pick the defense apart with his arm. This isn’t the Ehlinger who arrived on campus. He’s improved tremendously and will dissect Oklahoma State if given the time.
KEYS FOR TEXAS
Stop big plays: Texas’ secondary received a much needed break against Rice after getting torched by LSU’s new-look offense the week previous. Oklahoma State’s offense isn’t as talented as LSU, but it is much better than Rice. Texas’ defensive backs much limit the damage and avoid letting Oklahoma State build momentum with chunk plays in the passing game, even if that means Todd Orlando must dial back his blitzes.
Run the football: Texas is morphing into a quick passing team thanks to the exploits of Ehlinger and a lack of depth at running back. Texas wins this game with ease if it can dominate the line of scrimmage and win the rushing battle against the Cowboys. Keaontay Ingram looked good against Rice, and Roschon Johnson is building a case to become a full-time running back. Add the power of Ehlinger and Daniel Young and this Texas team should bully Oklahoma State over four quarters.
Texas 37, Oklahoma State 30: I won’t trust this Texas defense to stop a high-powered offense attack until I see it with my own eyes. The Rice game doesn’t count. The last time we watched Texas’ defensive unit at home, it was ugly. Luckily, Oklahoma State isn’t LSU. Texas’ offense continues to score at will, while the defense does just enough to earn a hard-fought win.
BEST OF THE REST
SMU at TCU
When: 2:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday
Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth
Notes: Texas-ex Shane Buechele led SMU to a 3-0 start. TCU is coming off a big win against Purdue. The Horned Frogs are favored by 9.5 at home, though it’s not like SMU fans need to travel far to watch the game. This is about SMU’s offense vs. TCU’s defense, and I’m giving the edge to Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs.
West Virginia at Kansas
When: 3:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lawrence (Kans.)
Notes: This is a monster game for the Kansas program. A win at home against a Big 12 opponent would build real momentum for the football program and bring the Jayhawks a step closer to eventual bowl eligibility. West Virginia is a beatable team. The loser likely earns the cellar position in next week’s Big 12 Power Poll.
Baylor at Rice
When: 6 p.m. CDT on Saturday
Where: Rice Stadium, Houston
Notes: There aren’t many great games to choose from on the slate this week, so let’s turn our attention to Baylor. A week after facing Texas, Rice will provide a strong litmus test to determine how close the Bears are to programs like the Longhorns. It’s also a chance to build depth. Rice looked hapless against Texas.