The final stretch of the Big 12 season begins as the No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys take on the No. 23 Texas Longhorns on Saturday afternoon at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Should the Cowboys walk away with a victory over the Longhorns, they’ll next host Baylor and Oklahoma. A clean sweep would likely translate into the second conference championship in three seasons for Oklahoma State.
First-place Texas needs to tack on three more victories to their six-game streak, ending with a road matchup against the seemingly unstoppable Bears offense. But first comes Oklahoma State’s No. 14 nationally ranked attack putting up 40.7 points and 434.7 yards per game.
The Cowboys and quarterback Clint Chelf made quick work of Kansas last week, putting up 28 points in the first half and never looking back. Senior cornerback Justin Gilbert returned the opening kick-off 100 yards for a touchdown, and Chelf tossed two of his three touchdowns in the first 30 minutes in what became a 42-6 blowout.
Gilbert’s part of a special teams squad that’s second in the Big-12 averaging 15.1 yards per return, and leads the conference with two returns for scores. The Cowboys are also first in the Big-12 in kick-off coverage, holding opponents to 18.6 yards per attempt.
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An ability to come up with clutch plays has been the staple of the Longhorns second half surge, especially last week’s 47-40 overtime over West Virginia that made them a perfect 6-0 in the conference. Texas forced five turnovers and held the Mountaineers to 19 offensive yards in overtime before quarterback Case McCoy hit sophomore fullback Alex De La Torre with a two-yard touchdown pass.
Texas re-entered the Top 25 rankings for first time since the loss to New Mexico State and even worse loss to BYU.
Unfortunately, the win also cost the Longhorns. Leading running back Johnathan Gray was lost to a torn Achilles and defensive tackle Chris Whaley is also done for the season with a knee injury. The sophomore Gray has picked up 780 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and senior Whaley notched a fumble recovery and interception in nine games this year.
The loss of Gray likely means more touches for Malcolm Brown, who’s gained 442 yards and eight touchdowns this season, and more plays for leading receivers Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis.
Betting Odds: Oklahoma State favored by 3 points
Over/Under: 64 points
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, Texas 24