Texas vs OSU and big games in the title race

I broke down the Texas-OSU matchup on Inside Texas and that link is free for all! It should be interesting to people curious about what’s happening in Stillwater this year since I spend a lot of time dissecting some of Oklahoma State’s issues and detailing the big questions facing Mike Gundy.

A crucial point regarding the QB rotation is this one:

Before the season the expectation was that the starting job would be won by Hawaii transfer Dru Brown (who incidentally, probably wouldn’t win the job at Hawaii this year) but the precision and RPOs of the OSU offense didn’t come fast enough for the fall enrollee to supplant the more experienced Cornelius. Many an OSU fan and writer thought that freshman phenom Spencer Sanders would start immediately but that was always a longshot given the jump in complexity both in offense and opposing defense that he was facing.

There’s the chance that after the bye week OSU could shake things up with one of those options but that would mean starting the four-game countdown on either Brown or Sanders. Neither have played a game this year, but plugging in Brown for the rest of the schedule would exhaust his eligibility and end his career. Alternatively, using a maybe-ready Sanders behind a weak OT tandem could be sacrificing a much better version of the player in 2022 in exchange for a few games in a down 2018. It’s worth noting that if Mason Rudolph wasn’t used in the last three games of 2014, there’s a good chance he’d be OSU’s starting QB right now.

Mike Gundy has a five year contract and probably isn’t thinking short-term here but you never know what things are like in their practices and what they might pull coming off the bye week.

Spread QBs in offenses like Oklahoma State’s tend to stick around for their senior years. Trace McSorley, Baker Mayfield, J.T. Barrett, Colt McCoy, Dak Prescott, the list goes on and on. Texas will probably get four years of Sam Ehlinger behind the helm. Maybe this changes in the coming years but QBs don’t often leave early unless they have a really clean and obvious projection to the NFL. I don’t think that will be true of Spencer Sanders.

Overall I don’t think this game will prove to be that important in the Big 12 race, in part because I don’t think Texas will lose and in part because it may not matter if they do. If they win out from there then the Longhorns will be atop the B12 standings with a tiebreaker over every conceivable challenger and thus an automatic entry into the title game. I guess a loss to OSU would knock Texas out of the playoff hunt but…that’s not really on the radar for this team. To win the B12 championship over a down league would be a huge step for the Longhorns and the next step for the program.

The big games this week are the following:

Baylor +13.5 at West Virginia

This one is tonight and it’s going to be a really big time game for the Mountaineers. They’re coming off that historic whooping at the hands of Iowa State that raised a lot of questions about their physicality and toughness as a football team.

Well Baylor is going to come at them with some physicality as well. They don’t run the ball like Iowa State but they have big, impact receivers and they’ll hit you on defense and try to take away the deep shots that West Virginia thrives on.

There’s a lot of stuff floating out there about Jake Spavital producing soft offenses that I’m still hesitant on and also about Joe Wickline being pretty checked out these days that I’m a little quicker to believe. The Mountaineers are not very physical or imposing along their OL and the Cyclones made them look like frontrunners that fold if you don’t allow them to beat you over the top in the passing game. If that’s the perception again after this game I think you could see West Virginia unravel and Dana Holgorsen face some pressure again. For that reason, the Mountaineers will probably bring their A game, which will make it all the easier to judge who they are this season.

Texas Tech +3.5 at Iowa State

Iowa State isn’t out of the B12 title hunt yet, not if they win out, so they have quite a bit to play for here and Brock “pump fake” Purdy is coming off a bye week to rest up and catch up.

Texas Tech gave TCU real problems a few weeks ago by using some good disguises to keep Shawn Robinson from knowing where to go with the ball and I think they could probably find a way to get pump fake off his marks as well. More importantly perhaps, Iowa State wants to use the run game to clear the picture for their passing attack and Texas Tech has played credible run defense for the last year and a half.

On the flip side, Iowa State’s dime defense is trouble for the Air Raid and the battle between Jon Heacock and Kliff Kingsbury is a compelling one.

The Red Raiders would look like your clear no. 3 team in the league if they win this game with a chance to make a statement in their upcoming home bouts with Texas and Oklahoma.

Kansas State +24.5 at Oklahoma

This one isn’t really any more important than the Texas vs Oklahoma State game other than the fact that the Sooners can’t afford a sloppy performance against a mid-level B12 team like Texas can because they already took that L.

I’ve been disappointed to see team after team approach the Sooner offense by trying to play lots of three-down looks, bringing a hesitant pass rush, and looking to absorb punches from Oklahoma. The combination of Lincoln Riley’s play calling, Kyler Murray’s physical ability, the Sooner wideouts, and a still imposing run game makes that kind of “rope a dope” a dumb strategy. You can’t survive on the ropes against this team, they’ll knock you out. Texas is the only defense with the athletes to have much of a chance doing that and they probably need to dial up pressures to make it work as well.

Well we know what K-State will do, probably the same thing they do every week. They’ll play their main quarters coverages, try to keep you guessing about where the help will be, and mostly look to beat you up front honestly with a four-man rush. The smart money is on Oklahoma putting them on the mat repeatedly throughout the game.

However, if the Sooners are not cautious the Wildcats certainly have some athletes that can make you pay on defense and it’s not hard to image Oklahoma’s still spotty defense having trouble with Alex Barnes and the Wildcat run game.

Again, OU probably wins and covers as they seem to be playing with some real purpose to try and retake the Big 12, but like OSU the Wildcats are frisky enough to make this interesting if the Sooners don’t bring it.

5 Comments

  1. Nate

    Couldn’t Sanders start the final four games and still redshirt under the new rules?

    I’ve been thinking this could be a unintended and interesting little loophole in the rule.

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