With the start of the college football season growing ever nearer, excitement about what could be an historic season for Oklahoma State is growing. With that in mind, it’s time to continue looking at the Cowboys’ 2017 schedule.
After starting Big 12 play with TCU in Stillwater, traveling for a game against Tech in Lubbock, then returning to Boone Pickens for Homecoming against Baylor, the Pokes will start back-to-back road games when they take on the Texas Longhorns in Austin.
Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Texas Longhorns
When: Saturday, October 21, Time TBA
Where: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX
2016: 3-6 (5-7 Big 12)
Key Returners: Shane Buechele, Malik Jefferson, Devin Duvernay, Connor Williams, Collin Johnson
Key Departures: D’Onta Foreman, Tyrone Swoopes, Kent Perkins, Charlie Strong
Tom Herman has a chance to bring Texas Football back (not like last season’s “TEXAS IS BACK FOLKS” back, but like really back). After bringing back a lot of key players from last season, he also has a chance to prove that he’s Texas’ man. Oklahoma State has the benefit of playing Texas right after their rivalry game against OU in the Cotton Bowl. This is also the start of what’s going to be the toughest stretch for Oklahoma State, with Texas and West Virginia on the road and then Bedlam at home. Texas and Oklahoma State are both going to have some mental challenges coming into this game.
This is the first time that Tom Herman has faced off against Mike Gundy and the Cowboys as head coach. He’s got a great returning quarterback in Shane Buchele and some power on defense in Malik Jefferson. While Texas might not have made a bowl game and lost to Kansas last year, I don’t see the problems that plagued them last season staying with them. This team is older and more experienced now. At Big 12 Media Days, Herman talked about teaching this team how to win and that losing isn’t something to just be brushed off. I think that translates to wins for his team. I don’t think they should be looked over this season. The Longhorns are looking to turn over a new leaf and while I can’t say if that’ll happen or not for sure, I think they have all the pieces to do so.
In last season’s game in Stillwater, Oklahoma State blocked three extra points, one of which was this one which the OSU defense returned for a safety.
Special teams definitely hurt the Longhorns last season. But, I don’t think it’ll be as easy of a win this year. Glenn Spencer is working with a defense that doesn’t have as much experience. I don’t know will be able to make as many of those types of plays. However, the Cowboys’ offense can more than make up for a defense that could have a lot of things to work out.
Player to watch- Offense: Collin Johnson (WR)
Johnson is set to have a breakout season after a great freshman year. He was tied for the team lead with three touchdown receptions. He played in all 12 games last season and got a start against WVU. Johnson had 28 catches for 315 yards. I can see him getting more starts and playing a bigger role as Buchele’s main target this season.
Player to Watch- Defense: Malik Jefferson (OLB)
Malik Jefferson is definitely proving to be a key part of the Longhorn defense. He started in nine games last season and the junior made the most of them. He racked up 42 solo tackles last season and 20 assisted tackles as well as 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. That’s an impressive stat line. Jefferson was the talk of his recruiting class and has lived up to all of the talk. If there’s a beacon of hope for the Horns’ defense, it’s Jefferson.
The Bottom Line:
With a new head coach leading the Longhorns, this is a game with a lot of questions. We know that Tom Herman is a good coach, but what can he do on a stage this large? Can he get past the rut that Texas has been in the past few years? The Cowboys will be marching into the Austin with a lot of preseason build up and the Longhorns are going be have to be up for a challenge. This is gonna be a matchup of what’s set to be good offenses and I expect some points to be scored.
This game is going to come down to mental toughness and who has the ball more in my opinion. The away team seems to have the advantage in this matchup with last year’s 49-31 Pokes’ victory being an exception. That bodes well for the Cowboys. While I think the Pokes get out of Austin with a W, I don’t think it’ll be by as big a margin as last season. Texas is an older team now and they aren’t gonna go down on their home field without a fight. Remember how close Texas got to taking Gundy and Co. to overtime in 2015?
I think this will be a well-fought shootout, but Rudolph and the offense will be too much for Texas.
Record after week 7: 7-0, 2-0 Big 12