Texas is an interesting football team. Their greatest strength is running the ball, and not in a finesse way, but a "pound it down your throat" way. Their greatest weakness is their run defense (but I will let Derek discuss that in his preview). On the offensive side though, they are still sneaky. If there is one thing that Case McCoy received from his brother Colt, it was that come the fourth quarter, if it is close, then he will find a way to get the Longhorns a victory. If McCoy doesn't, that still doesn't rule the 'horns out because they have an automatic (and I mean 100 percent for the year) kicker in Anthony Fera. The Cowboy defense will have to shut the Longhorn offense (run game) down early and put the foot on the throat when the opportunity presents itself. This could be the game that puts the crown jewel on a player like Caleb Lavey's season.
Speaking of Lavey, this season has been special. If he plays anywhere near the level he has played all this season, then the Cowboys will cruise on defense. Lavey has averaged almost eight tackles (7.8) and one tackle for loss (1.17) during the conference season. He is also fifth in the conference in solo tackles in the conference season (38). However Lavey's days go, the entire defense goes. If the heartbeat of the defense thrives then it will be hard for the Cowboys to leave Austin with a loss.
When pressure is applied on Case McCoy, he makes mistakes. All five of his interceptions thrown this season came during the conference. McCoy threw two against the only other statistically comparable defense in the Big 12 to OSU, TCU. His decision making from quarters one through three are questionable even when he's not under duress, so the if/when Tyler Johnson, Calvin Barnett, etc. are in his face, it could be a field day for Justin Gilbert and Tyler Patmon. Don't forget Kevin Peterson either, he grabbed his first collegiate interception last week and that may be the threshold that needed to be broken for Peterson to become a defensive playmaker like his other cornerback teammates.
The last OSU/Texas meeting is one that all Cowboy fans remember with great disdain. The new rules from the Big 12 had been handed down to the Paddle People, which effectively muted them during times that in the past opposing teams feared due to the home-field advantage of Boone Pickens Stadium. That wasn't even the worst though, that spot was reserved for "Fumble-gate." The running back responsible for that infamous play, Joe Bergeron will see a huge part of the load now that the three running back system of Texas has been paired down to two.
Match-ups to watch:
- Calvin Barnett vs. Joe Bergeron: Last year, Bergeron was the difference in the game, no matter the controversy, he was the difference. If his play has been any inclination of what's to come, Barnett could shut down the Longhorns short yardage threat.
- Tyler Johnson vs. UT Left Tackle Donald Hawkins: The Cowboys 28-year-old athletic freak has wreaked havoc this season at the defensive end position, now he will have take on some of the best O-linemen in the Big 12, especially their blind side man Hawkins.
- Lyndell Johnson vs. Mike Davis: The Longhorn wideout Davis is one of the few vertical threats in the 'horns offense. He does have a tendency to get frustrated though when he gets bumped off his routes and is jammed at the line. Enter OSU's resident thumper Lyndell Johnson, if he can frustrate Davis, that knocks out a threat that the Longhorns may desperately need if the game is close in the fourth.
Signs that OSU will leave Austin with a 'W':
- Caleb Lavey grabs an interception.
- OSU forces and recovers one fumble.
- Multiple interceptions
- Two or more sacks
- Lyndell Johnson gets called for targeting!