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BON Round Table: No. 12 Texas poised to finally end skid vs. Oklahoma State

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There’s reason to believe Texas will finally snaps its losing streak against Oklahoma State, but history hasn’t been in the Horns favor in this matchup.

Texas v Oklahoma State Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Oklahoma State hasn’t been kind to Texas as of late. The Cowboys have owned the Longhorns throughout the majority of the last decade, especially in Austin.

Now, the two are once again set to take the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, and the industry expects Texas to, at long last, come out on top, with the Longhorns entering as 6.5-point favorites and owning a 61.4 percent chance to win, per ESPN’s FPI.

The Burnt Orange Nation staff got together to discuss what will need to work for Texas to prove those projections correct, what problems the Pokes can pose, and much more.

With non-conference in the rearview, what’s impressed you most about how Texas has performed, and what lingering issues could lead to a few losses in the Big 12?

Cody Daniel — The passing game and how efficient Sam Ehlinger has been is notable, and the fact that Texas didn’t struggle with teams it shouldn’t was refreshing. On the other hand, the struggles in the secondary could lead to a couple losses, which could be the difference in Texas returning to the Big 12 title game or watching it from Austin. And, of course, it would help if the Longhorns could get at least close to completely healthy.

Evan Kirschner — Sam Ehlinger has been crazy efficient, and seemingly everyone on the receiving corps (outside of CJ) has had a great start to the season, especially Duvernay. A stable running game with this passing attack would mean a lot of offense and a lot of ways to win. Unfortunately, injuries to the defense have me worried, especially with the Big 12 being the Big 12. With games against OU, OSU, Baylor, Texas Tech, and Iowa St. -- all schools with above average passing attacks -- the Pass D will NEED to get better if the Longhorns want to return to the BIg 12 Championship.

Wes Crochet — Most will point to Sam, and rightfully so. His command of the offense continues to improve. The offensive line deserves credit. And the job Roschon Johnson has done can’t be overlooked. Lingering issues include a few spots on the defense. Most can be corrected, and this will be a good test for that unit.

Daniel Seahorn — Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense is an easy answer here, but aside from that I have been most impressed by the skill position talent and the continued improvement of the offensive line. Devin Duvernay is primed for a big year after moving to the slot and has proven to be a favorite target of Ehlinger, but he Collin Johnson weren’t enough to worry about, you also have Brennan Eagles and Jake Smith out there stressing defenses vertically. When you combine the skill talent with Coach Hand’s group keeping Ehlinger clean, then you get a very lethal and productive Texas offense. My honorable mention would be the emergence of Roschon Johnson in his new role within the offense. I’m excited to see how he develops at running back because he’s looked like a natural out there these first three games.

On the flip side of the coin, the cornerback position definitely concerns me as Texas prepares to run the gauntlet of explosive Big 12 offenses starting this Saturday. This group is going to have to grow up on the fly otherwise Texas is going to have to win several shootouts in conference play.

Okie State features two of the nation’s most explosive offensive talents in Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard. Who should Texas be most worried about?

Cody — Wallace, especially after last season. Texas still has plenty of questions at corner, and though Hubbard will likely enjoy another 100-yard game, Texas is currently top 25 in rushing defense, allowing only 87.3 yards per game. Hubbard might break a big run or two, but if Texas loses, it will be because Wallace put on a show, yet again.

Evan — Wallace. He leads the nation in receiving yards and can absolutely exploit the Longhorns weakness in the defensive secondary. Look out for OSU trying to take the top off the defense with him.

Wes — Making it tough for Oklahoma State to lean on Hubbard would pay dividends this weekend, and Texas has players that could do just that. Wallace’s ability to dominate on the outside and downfield is scary, especially for a defense still figuring things out on the back end. Maybe it’s the recurring Wallace nightmares from last year’s game, too…

Daniel — Wallace is the easy answer for me. He gave the Texas secondary the grand tour of the woodshed last year in Stillwater, and Texas’ young corners have struggled against talented receivers so far this season. Jalen Green will likely draw the tough assignment of covering Wallace, but I expect they will roll consistent help towards whichever side of the field he lines up on.

This will be the biggest stage of Spencer Sanders’ young career, but being too aggressive can lead to the aforementioned Wallace and Hubbard burning Texas. How aggressive do you expect Todd Orlando to be with his play-calling?

Cody — I’d expect him to try to mix it up almost on a play-by-play basis in hopes of confusing Sanders and preventing him from establishing a level of comfort -- things like a heavy blitz on first down and teasing a blitz before dropping eight on third down. Overall, though, Texas should be more aggressive than not.

Evan — Sanders showed some weaknesses of his own last week against Tulsa. To get him to make mistakes, like most QBs, Texas will have to pressure him and get collapse his pocket. I think Orlando will lean on the aggressive side of play calling, as he usually does.

Wes — It’s tempting to blitz Sanders, though if I’m Texas, I’m also factoring in Sanders can hurt a defense quickly with his legs. I’d think Texas doesn’t blitz as much as they did vs LSU while also using some other tactics (various coverages, zone blitzes) to try to confuse Sanders some to not sacrifice too much in coverage, especially around Tylan Wallace.

Daniel — I’d still expect Orlando to be fairly aggressive and try to get the young quarterback’s wheels spinning a bit early and not let him get comfortable. On the flip side, I expect Mike Gundy to look to get Sanders in a groove early with some easy, scripted throws so that he is able to plant that seed of confidence early on the road in a hostile environment. The one thing I will be watching is how well Texas contains Sanders when he starts using his legs. If Orlando opts to throw the kitchen sink at him with blitz packages, they have to be careful about recklessly getting too far up field and leaving rush lanes available for Sanders to escape.

Neither defense has been much to write home about and it’s safe to expect we’ll see a ton of points scored. How confident are you that Texas can win a shootout against what currently appears to be an elite OSU offense?

Cody — Fairly confident. I’m certainly more confident in Texas’ offense to continue producing than I am the defense getting a handful of key stops. But that said, I could see Sanders forcing a bit if it becomes a back-and-forth contest and he’s asked to keep pace with a Texas offense that’s producing points, leading to a costly turnover or two.

Evan — Fairly confident, as Texas has two huge advantages in its favor. First and foremost, they’re at home. Second, they’ve got a much more efficient signal caller at QB with Ehlinger at the helm. Sanders is a bit more erratic at the position, and a few turnovers could decide the game.

Wes — I’ll first say I’m not convinced it will be a shootout in the 40s. The Texas defense has players to work with and it’s the staff that needs to bring it all together (and can). We should also note the Texas defense will be the most athletic Oklahoma State has faced so far. I’m saying Texas wins in less of a shootout than expected. More like a little junior shootout.

Daniel — I think Texas can win this game if it ends up being a shootout and I think it would come down to having the more experienced quarterback. In games like that it comes down to who makes the fewest mental errors and in that regard I always lean towards the team with the more battle-tested signal caller. Ehlinger has done a great job of taking care of the ball and I will not be surprised if Sanders can be Jedi mind-tricked into a turnover on Saturday.

Given that Texas will likely need to score 35-plus to win, what kind of performance do you expect to see from Sam Ehlinger?

Cody — Likely something along the lines of what we’ve seen thus far from him: Four touchdowns through the air, and assuming he won’t be able to watch the fourth quarter from the sidelines, 320-plus yards. And per usual, he’ll make his fair share of plays with his legs, too.

Evan — Given that Texas has scored 35 plus in all their games so far, I expect more of the same from Sam. High completion percentage, yards in the low 300’s, with a handful of touchdowns to boot.

Wes — Even though it was against Rice, what stood out with Ehlinger last week was his ability to stick in the pocket, go through progressions, and place the football in some nice spots for his receivers. I expect to see more of that as Sam continues to take even more command of this offense. Probably somewhere around 40 pass attempts, pushing 300 yards, and at least a couple scores. Looks like we all feel similar here. It’s the expectation Ehlinger is creating.

Daniel — 300-plus yards passing with another 40-50 on the ground is about what I’d expect if things go the way I think they will on Saturday. I’d say three touchdowns from 11 is the floor.

Besides Ehlinger having another field day and the need to slow Wallace and Hubbard, what’s the biggest key to Texas coming away with a 1-0 start to conference play?

Cody — Even when Texas’ offense is clicking, it often produces long, methodical drives that chew a ton of clock, so that would be key to keeping OSU’s offense sideline and wearing down the defense late. Points are points, but if Texas can routinely take 8-12 plays to score, that will make a difference late in the game. Defensively, getting pressure on Sanders will also be key. If Texas can fluster him early and often, he’ll almost certainly make at least one too many mistakes for OSU to win.

Evan — Texas needs to establish a running game. If they do, then that’s all she wrote. The quickest way to tire out a defense and take control of a game is to run the ball down another team’s throat. If Ingram and co. can put up a good game on the ground, then that opens up the passing lanes and gives the Texas defense a breather. It’ll be tough for OSU to win if Texas can put up 150 yards on the ground.

Wes — Texas can’t afford to give Oklahoma State short fields to work with from poor punts, turnovers, failed conversions. And I keep going back to preventing Sanders from exposing the defense with his legs. Texas should have enough on offense. It’s the defense that will need the help.

Daniel — Winning the turnover battle will be the key in my opinion. Get Sanders uncomfortable early and do your best to limit the damage by Wallace. He will get his more than likely, but limit the explosive plays and don’t let him go off for 200-plus yards again.

Prediction time: First to 50 wins?

Cody — Close, but not quite 50. Texas - 44, Oklahoma State - 34.

Evan — The Vegas over/under for this game is at 73 points, and life’s too short to bet the under in a BIg 12 game. Texas wins 41 - 34 with a late garbage time TD from OSU.

Wes — This is a game that Texas should win but could lose if the defense drops its awareness and lets guys like Tylan Wallace get behind them or loses containment on Spencer Sanders and lets him scramble for chunks. And we know Chuba Hubbard is dangerous, as well. Texas will be the best overall team Okie State has played to this point and I’ll take the Longhorns to win 31 to 27.

Daniel — I’d hammer the over and I’m siding with the more experienced quarterback in what I expect to be a shootout. Longhorns manage to hang on and break their streak against the Cowboys. Texas - 45, - Okie State 41.