Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Texas Longhorns (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 3:30PM EST
Where: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
By Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OKST -3/TEX +3
Over/Under Total: 60
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The Oklahoma State Cowboys come to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, as each team opens its Big 12 conference schedule. On Saturday, Oklahoma State moved to 3-0 with a 69-14 win over UTSA and enter this week with a number-24 ranking. Texas has played tougher teams, losing to Notre Dame in week one, before losing on Saturday, 45-44, to the Cal Bears in a heartbreaker.
At home on Saturday, Texas faced the high-flying attack of Jared Goff and the Cal Golden Bears. Down by 21 points, they staged a huge comeback behind redshirt freshman QB Jerrod Heard, who was simply riveting. A 45-yard TD run by Heard, who has injected life into this Longhorns defense, put Texas one point behind Cal with just over a minute to go, before kicker Nick Rose blew the extra point, costing Texas a possible win over a slip-sliding Cal team that would have been hard-pressed to win in OT. That was undoubtedly as tough a loss as one could ask for. After storming all the way back, only to miss an extra point, is in many ways more painful than just getting blown out. But just not as promising.
Moving ahead, Texas has a real playmaker in Heard. He set a Longhorns record with 527 yards in offense, throwing for 364 yards, while running for 163 with three rushing touchdowns. Look for new offensive coordinator Joe Wickline to utilize the full scope of Heards talents. The redshirt freshman is raw, but has abundant talentboth with his arm and his legs. Now if only Charlie Strongs defense can come around, theyd be in better shape.
On Saturday, the Texas defense, who is playing with a ton of youth and very few impactful returning starters, was run ragged by a road Cal team. The 21-point third quarter was particularly painful, as it really put Texas behind the 8-ball. They were resilient in the 4th quarter, holding a tiring Cal team scoreless. But that side of the ball just hasnt gotten it done this season, giving up 38 to Notre Dame and 28 to Rice in their week two win. Now facing an Oklahoma State offense that is capable of putting up points in bunches, theyre going to have to come up with some answers. But still, the proliferation of Heards game on Saturday was promising, though the defeat was bitter.
Texas head coach Charlie Strong is trying to do this the right way. He is building the team conscientiously and has gotten rid of all the troublemakers and locker-room disruptions. It may take time, after all, he didnt immediately jump in there and turn the Louisville program arond. It took time for him to put his imprint on the team. And if the defense struggles, they at least showed an offense on Saturday that will give them a chance in shootout scenarios. WR Daje Johnson had 145 yards on Saturday, with Johnathan Gray, Amanti Foreman, and John Burt all having big games aerially. Heard really seemed to bring the talent out of some guys on Saturday. A total of 650 yards of offense still counts for something, even if it happened against the leaky D of Cal.
Oklahoma State has certainly gotten off to a better start for in the 2015 season, though they will not enter this game as battle-tested as Texas on the heels of wins over Central Michigan, Central Arkansas, and UTSA on Saturday. Against an underrated Central Michigan team, they trailed in the second half, before rallying for the double-digit win. They handled FCS opponent Central Arkansas with relative ease, before their 69-14 win over winless Texas-San Antonio. While Texas has been playing tough teams like the Fighting Irish and Cal, Oklahoma St. has had it relatively easy. That could potentially hurt them, with Texas entering this game the more battle-tempered team, though not one that has really passed their tests. But the Cowboys could also be the more high-spirited team, having not had any heartbreaks yet this season. They will be facing a Texas team that is nice and dug in at home, with this being their third straight game in Austin.
Oklahoma State got 7 turnovers from UTSA on Saturday and their defense has been playing pretty well. They also saw a growth in their ground game, with Chris Carson having a big performance on Saturday. QB Mason Rudolph was 17-for-23 with 280 yards and two touchdowns. Theyre a team on the rise, with Rudolph now getting a chance to register a big road win in-conference. Hes thrown only one pick this season and looks confident in commandeering this offense. They have good playmakers with Chris Carson and even Raymond Taylor had some big runs, including a 58-yard TD scamper on Saturday. The receiving crew is packed with difference-makers and with Rudolph getting more and more on the same page with his playmakers, this offense should get better.
Oklahoma State enters week 4 the more balanced football team. Their offense is better-rounded and their defense has shown themselves to be a more dependable entity. Theyre in less of a rebuilding mode than Texas, who is still striving to transform into what they will eventually become, while Oklahoma State is more of who they are now, if that makes any sense. Their identity is more cemented. Things are less up in the air stylistically and personnel-wise. That doesnt mean that Texas will be an easy team in this conference to beat, especially at home. But I still see Oklahoma exploiting this Longhorns defense at some point and withstanding a suddenly-dangerous Texas offense for a close and competitive win on the road.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oklahoma State Cowboys minus three points.
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