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Week 5 – Texas at Oklahoma State
Posted Sep 27, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction – Texas at Oklahoma State

Texas (3-0) at Oklahoma State (2-1) Sept. 29, 7:50, FOX

Here’s The Deal: Is Texas ready to bust out of the shadows and into the national title debate? Oklahoma is looking mediocre, West Virginia hasn’t played anyone, and Kansas State is good, but one dimensional. This is the Longhorns’ Big 12 title for the taking, but first they have to get back the momentum in a series it owned for a long, long time, winning 12 straight – with several in heart-crushing fashion – before losing two in a row. But things are different this time around.

The quarterback play that’s been such a problem since Colt McCoy got knocked out of the 2009 BCS championship has quickly and dramatically turned into a positive. David Ash has been terrific, the ground game has been devastating, and the defense has been fine when needed. There hasn’t been a real test yet with Wyoming, New Mexico and Ole Miss all lightweights, but the Longhorns appear to be rested and ready to tackle the big three-game run that could make or break their national title dreams. West Virginia is up next before dealing with Oklahoma, and if Texas is good enough to win the next three games, it’s good enough to blow past everyone else on the schedule until the regular season finale against Kansas State. However, Oklahoma State is going to give the Texas D a major push.

The Cowboys got their doors blown off by Arizona in a 59-38 loss that didn’t get much national play because it happened so late in the day, and while bouncing back with a 65-24 win over Louisiana-Lafayette was nice, it came at a cost losing starting quarterback Wes Lunt to a knee injury. He’s 50/50 to play this week after getting two weeks to prepare, but to beat it’s going to take more than decent quarterback play to get by the Longhorns. The defense has to be far, far better than it was against Arizona’s passing game, and the big mistakes have to stop on both sides of the ball. This is a rebuilding team, but it’s a good one. With Kansas up next followed up by home games against Iowa State and TCU, a win over Texas could springboard a 4-0 Big 12 start before going to Kansas State.

Why Texas Might Win: Mistakes. One of the biggest keys to the 2011 Oklahoma State season was turnover margin, with the defense making up for its problems with lots and lots of takeaways. The Cowboys led the nation in turnover margin last season, but this year the big plays aren’t coming from the defense to make up for the issues on offense with seven turnovers in three games and just two picks – both against Savannah State – and one fumble recovery. Texas has been fantastic at holding on to the ball with just one lone lost fumble, no picks, and seven takeaways.

What was the big problem against Arizona? Four turnovers were part of it, 15 penalties had a lot to do with the blowout, and a total inability to come up with a big stop at a key time was a particular problem. The Oklahoma State offense was great, rolling up 636 yards, but the defense couldn’t get off the field. Texas has been phenomenal on third downs so far ranking third in the nation keeping the chains moving at a 60.5% clip. The Longhorns have balance and the ability to hit OSU from several sides to control the clock and the game, but …

Why Oklahoma State Might Win: The Cowboys are No. 1 in college football in third down conversion percentage keeping things moving 62.8% of the time. Of course, the Savannah State helped the stats, but the offense really is strong at picking up the third down play and moving the nation’s No. 1 offense without a problem. The offensive line has yet to allow a sack and the production is balanced. The Texas defense is terrific and full of talent, but it wasn’t a rock for a full sixty minutes against Ole Miss and gave up a few too many big plays in the win over Wyoming. The Longhorns will give up yards and will give up big pass plays if the quarterbacks have time. The passing game will have time.

That OSU air attack is on an impressive run, throwing for more than 400 yards in each of the last two games. If the 399 yards in the Fiesta Bowl against Stanford are pushed into the category, the offense has cranked out 400 yards or more in six of the last eight games, with the two games under the mark coming against the blowout against Oklahoma – when the ground game ripped up the Sooners – and against Savannah State when the coaching staff stopped allowing the O to throw. Texas did a terrific job against the Cowboy offense and passing game last year, and while this is a great D, it’s going to have to be ready for the storm. Throwing the ball for OSU will be …

What To Watch Out For: Wes Lunt? The coaching staff is hoping he’s going to be back from his knee injury in time to be ready to go. J.W. Walsh? He was terrific last week against the Ragin’ Cajuns completing 21-of-30 passes for 347 yards and four scores to go along with 73 rushing yards and a touchdown. Lunt doesn’t run like Walsh does, but he’s a steadier and more explosive passer. As good as Lunt might be, can a true freshman in his third full game handle the Texas defense? It’s asking a lot.

With Joe Bergeron hurting with a shoulder injury, more of the Texas rushing workload should fall to Malcolm Brown, the true sophomore who wasn’t needed against New Mexico but ran well against Wyoming and Ole Miss rolling past the 100-yard mark in both games. The best game of his young career came against Oklahoma State last season with 135 yards and two scores on just 19 carries, and the potential is there to do more of the same. He’s going to be more of a workhorse, taking the pressure off of Ash and not forcing the offense to step out of its comfort zone. Texas should maintain a nice balance.

What Will Happen: Oklahoma State is the real deal and will have a good season, but Texas is going to have a great year. There are still holes and there are still concerns, but this is a rising team that’s going to get better and better by the week.

CFN Prediction: Texas 45 … Oklahoma State 31
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Texas -2.5 O/U: 70.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 4