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OSU Football: Pokes seeking fifth straight win in Austin

Horns Illustrated
Oklahoma State has dominated Texas with four straight wins at Darrell K. Royal Stadium.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – A team often can find it difficult to get motivated for its next opponent after a grueling battle against its biggest rival. Texas lost to Oklahoma, 29-24, last week and the Longhorns host No. 11 Oklahoma State (11 a.m. ABC) Saturday.

What motivation do the Longhorns (3-3, 2-1 Big 12) have as they await the Cowboys (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) arrival? OSU has won five of the last seven meetings including four straight in Austin.

The last time Texas won in Austin, Barack Obama and John McCain were duking it out on the campaign trail (2008).

Texas trailed the Sooners, 20-0, and fought back to take a 24-23 lead but an OU touchdown midway through the fourth quarter ended the Steers’ hopes of a victory. UT freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger led his squad with 106 rushing yards, but the running backs managed to pick up only 17 yards on 14 carries. Ehlinger also gained 107 yards two weeks earlier against Kansas State to lead the Longhorns.

Since Ehlinger took over as the starter, he has completed 55 percent of his passes throwing 6 TDs and 3 INTs. As he can be effective with his arm, the Pokes must stop the Horns from making progress with their legs. Ehlinger was decent against KSU (30 of 50) but lousy against Oklahoma (19 of 39).

OSU, on the other hand, has the nation’s best passing game (411.2-yard average) and total offense (610.7) and the second-best scoring team (48.8-point average). Quarterback Mason Rudolph leads the country with 394.7 passing yards per game. Receiver James Washington leads the nation with an average of 147 yards receiving (34-882).

Not good news for the Longhorns, who rank 108th in passing yards (264.8) allowed. Texas will likely employ a dime package with six defensive backs.

The Cowboys easily beat Baylor, 59-16, last weekend, but the Bears took a surprising 7-0 lead on their opening drive. Baylor ran the ball 10 times in the 12-play drive racking up 56 of the 75 yards in the drive—an unexpected twist to the Bears’ regular game plan.

The Pokes then scored five touchdowns for a 35-10 halftime lead. Rudolph, who finished with 459 yards and 3 TDs, tossed a couple of big strikes in the first half—38 yards to Marcell Ateman and 25 yards to Jalen McCleskey. Justice Hill scored on a 79-yard scamper and Rudolph scored on a one-yard run. He tossed this third TD pass to Washington on a 68-yard strike in the third period.

The Pokes rolled up a school-record 747 total yards. Hill picked up 117 yards rushing and Washington had 6 grabs for 235 yards, and Ateman had 119 receiving yards, the fourth consecutive game the duo had more than 100 yards apiece. According to stats.com, Washington and Ateman are the only FBS duo since at least 1996 to post four consecutive games where both players surpassed 100 yards receiving.

OSU’s defense has allowed 372.5 yards (53rd) and 24.3 points (56th) per game. Safety Tre Flowers leads the D with 31 tackles and shares the lead (Justin Phillips) with two interceptions.

Texas defense is ranked sixth nationally in third-down defense (26.6%), which should pose as an interesting matchup as the Pokes rank second in third-down efficiency (54.8%) on offense. The Steers also are strong against the run (23rd) giving up 116.7 yards per outing, but since surrendering 263 yards to Maryland in the opener, the Horns have allowed 87.4 rushing yards per game.

Texas also leads the nation with 44.8 yards in net punting and punter Michael Dickson’s 48.3- yard average is second nationally.

Linebacker Malik Jefferson leads the UT defense with 54 tackles—6 for losses including 2.5 sacks. Safety DeShon Elliott leads Texas with 5 interceptions and the team has 9 picks this year.

Three of those interceptions have been returned for touchdowns.

The Pokes also have three defensive TDS.

Only one team has won four straight at Darrell K. Royal Stadium—Oklahoma State. No other team has won more than three straight. For the third time in five games, Texas is facing an opponent ranked in the Top 12. They lost to then No. 4 USC by three points in double overtime and to No. 12 Oklahoma by five. The Pokes must play with minimal mistakes to roll out of Austin with a fifth victory.

FAST FACTS

*UT leads the series 24-7, but lost two straight games.

*UT leads 15-5 in Austin, but lost four straight.

*OSU is favored by 7.

*OSU coach Mike Gundy’s record: 109-51 (.681) overall; 5-7 vs. UT; 37-26 on the road; 65-40

vs. Big 12 opponents.

*UT coach Tom Herman’s record: 25-7 (.781) overall; at UT: 3-3; 0-0 vs. OSU; 2-1 at home; 2-1

vs. Big 12 foes.

*OSU is 9-5- 1 in games played on October 21.

*UT is 14-3- 1 in games played on October 21 including 11 straight wins.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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