OSU bringing blistering offense back to Texas
It used to be Texas could count on a long winning streak against Oklahoma State to all but guarantee the Longhorns would again beat the Cowboys. Texas had made a 12-year habit of beating the Cowboys with all sorts of routs and rallies.
But the old saying that ''old habits die hard'' does allow for habits to, well, die. The winning streak finally did when Oklahoma State joined the legion of teams that rolled into Austin and beat Texas last season.
The No. 6 Cowboys (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) return to Austin on Saturday and the No. 22 Longhorns (4-1, 1-1) are again flipping through the record book looking for some kind of an edge in a game where they are a rare home underdog.
How about this? Texas coach Mack Brown is 13-0 the first game after playing big rival Oklahoma, a streak that includes six wins over ranked opponents.
But even that streak doesn't seem very solid anymore. Not after Texas gave up 300 yards passing in the first half of a 55-17 loss to No. 3 Oklahoma last week.
Oklahoma State ranks first in the nation in scoring (51 ppg) and second in passing (431 ypg) and comes in with the confidence of having already broken its long losing streak to Texas last year.
''Everybody is talking about how the Big 12 loves (Texas) and gives us all the breaks,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said. ''I'm not sure they realized that when they made this schedule.''
And coming back to Austin after a rough road trip to Dallas isn't necessarily the best thing for Texas. The Longhorns were just 2-5 at Royal-Memorial Stadium last season. They haven't played at home since needing a second-half rally to beat BYU 17-16 back on Sept. 11.
The 10-team format in the Big 12 required some scheduling quirks, including sending the Cowboys on the road to Texas two years in a row.
Oklahoma State coaches and players don't seem to mind. Cowboys coach Mike Gundy noted how good it felt to win here last season. Oklahoma State roared to a 26-3 halftime lead.
''I'm sure it had some effects in our recruiting and maybe the way we're perceived across the country in our football program,'' Gundy said. ''Texas is maybe one of the top five tradition-rich football programs in the country, and so it'd be good to win another game against Texas.''
Another win also would let the Cowboys keep pace with Oklahoma and No. 17 Kansas State in the race for the Big 12 title. Those are the only unbeaten teams in the league.
''What's nice is a lot of the same guys are still here that were able to go down there and play so well,'' Oklahoma State senior quarterback Brandon Weeden said. ''You can't really look at the game last year, but just the fact that we went on the road and were able to win and play well ... that's always comforting.''
Weeden, who is 7-0 as a starter on the road, ripped Texas for 409 yards passing last year against a defense that was full of experienced players in the secondary. On Saturday, he'll be throwing passes to All-American wide receiver Justin Blackmon against a group of freshman and sophomores at cornerback.
The youngsters were solid in Texas' first four games and still rank No. 7 nationally in pass efficiency defense, but the youth was exposed by an Oklahoma passing offense that carved them up for big plays last week.
''We had three hours of defending some of the best receivers and the best quarterback in the country, now we going to have three hours of defending one of the best quarterbacks and some of the best receivers in the country,'' Brown said. ''It's on us to get better.''
Texas will likely need something special from its defense. The Longhorns' offense is still trying to find its way behind first-year coordinator Bryan Harsin and rotating quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash and hasn't yet shown it can keep up in a shootout. The quarterbacks had four of Texas' five turnovers last week.
One of Brown's biggest jobs this week is to make sure his young and fragile group can rebound mentally from last week's embarrassing defeat.
''Last year we pouted over losses,'' Brown said. ''We're not going to do that. They whipped us good. Learn from it.''