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2016 Opponent Previews: Texas Longhorns

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We continue our look at OSU’s 2016 opponents.

NCAA Football: Texas at Kansas John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

When: October 1st, game time TBD

Where: Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)

Watch/Listen: Cowboy Radio Network (TV broadcast TBD)

Last year:

The Longhorns had a very difficult non-conference schedule, as they had Notre Dame, Rice and University of California scheduled for their first three games. The Horns fell to Notre Dame and Cal, and were off to a poor start on the season. They did not win another game until they shocked the world, taking down the arch rival Sooners in the Red River Shootout (I call it Shootout. Come at me, bros.) After taking down OU and KSU, spirits were pretty high until they were blanked by the Iowa State Cyclones. They finished out their season with wins against Baylor and the woeful KU Jayhawks.

A sputtering offense was a hot topic for the Longhorns. This was, in part, due to a ineffectiveness at the quarterback position. Neither Jerrod Heard or Tyrone Swoopes could get into a rhythm as they were constantly being interchanged back-and-forth. With a new freshman QB in the mix in Austin, TX, I’m interested to see how Strong divides the playing time for the upcoming season.

Who to watch for:

Offensively, the two most reliable weapons on the squad are the Smash Brothers, D’Onta Foreman & Chris Warren III. With the departure of Johnathan Gray, Foreman and Warren are taking over as the two go-to backs. Some may argue that these two have not quite earned a nickname, but with Foreman at 6’0 238lbs and Warren at 6’2 255lbs, both are an absolute load to bring down, and they are looking to carry the Texas football program back to the top of the Big 12.

Defensively, all eyes are on linebacker, Malik Jefferson. The hype train has left the station, and it is chugging along at the speed of light, but it’s not too late to jump on. As a true freshman, Jefferson recorded 61 tackles (2nd team wide), 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and picked up Freshman All-American honors. Choo-choo!!!

Last meeting:

You know what they always say, special teams wins championships... Well, maybe that isn’t the phrase, but after watching last years match up against Texas, you could definitely make an argument for it.

This isn’t a game that Mason Rudolph will have in his career highlights. At first glance, he had a pretty nice game at 22 for 34 passing with 290 yards, however, he had three critical turnovers that kept Texas in the game. Being a young developing quarterback, it’s safe to assume Rudolph was a bit rattled in front of the fans in Austin, TX, but that is to be expected.

JW Walsh was doing “J-Dub” things, as he had one rushing and one passing touchdown in the redzone. The defense was flying around and was giving Jerrod Heard issues, as they held him to a QBR of 15.8 and his average rushing yards per carry at 2.5 yards.

The real MVP for Oklahoma State was Michael Dickson Ben Grogan. Grogan booted three field goals over the course of the game, which includes a 40-yarder with six seconds left on the clock to give the Cowboys the lead and the win. However, Grogan wasn’t the main story on Sports Center the next morning. Before the winning field goal, Texas punter, Michael Dickson, had a slight mishap. Dickson mishandled a long snap in the Longhorn’s own 10 yard line, and frantically booted off a little squibbler out of bounds. This gave the Cowboys good field position for Grogan’s game winner.

Yup, special teams wins championships.

What we will learn:

This is simple enough. For Texas, we are going to learn if Shane Buechele is the real deal, and if he isn’t, can the Horns handle a defense with 8 guys in the box at all times?

For the Pokes, after three very winnable non-conference games and a battle against the Baylor Bears, how is the offensive line holding up? Can OSU run the ball? Will Rudolph be forced to throw the ball 50 times per game? We should find the answers to all of these questions.

Prediction: OSU 38 - UT 24

Freshman quarterback, dude. I expect Jordan Sterns and crew to feast off of Buechele, and try to limit big plays from Foreman and Warren. Also, I think Glenn Spencer has shown that he can handle Tyrone Swoopes if Texas decides to mix him into the offense.

Mason Rudolph should be in a real rhythm at this point in the season, and I expect him to be throwing dimes all over the field. There is also a possibility of a Marcell Ateman return during this time frame (fingers crossed).

I’ll bring this point up one million times, but if OSU can figure out how to produce in the ground game, I like our chances against any team in the Big 12.