Oklahoma State may be Oklahoma’s “little brother,” but it’s the Cowboys who are ruling the Big 12 so far this season.
Head coach Mike Gundy’s undefeated squad will welcome the Texas football team to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Tom Herman’s 3–2 Longhorns will try to end the Cowboys’ perfection Saturday.
“We’ve got a huge challenge,” head coach Herman said in a Monday teleconference. “We’ve got to go on the road to a very hostile environment, regardless of fan capacity, to play a very veteran, well-coached team that is playing as good as anybody in our conference right now.”
The Longhorns will have to be at full strength this weekend, meaning they’ll need the presence of junior linebacker Joseph Ossai. Ossai, who leads the defense in total tackles, went down with a shoulder injury in the Longhorns’ game against Baylor last Saturday.
Herman said the linebacker is in a brace and should participate in practice, if not Tuesday, then Wednesday.
“I would be pretty surprised if we did not see Joseph Ossai play a significant part in this football game on Saturday in Stillwater,” Herman said.
The Cowboys are not only talented and well-coached, but they also have experience this year. Herman said a majority of Oklahoma State’s starters on defense are juniors or seniors, some of which are in redshirt seasons.
This, coupled with the continuity of Gundy’s program, makes the Cowboys a tough team to beat.
“You’re talking about 22, 23-year-old grown men out there playing defense that have been playing in the same system and have been playing together for a long time,” Herman said.
Texas can leave Stillwater with a win if the team plays a clean game, as it did against Baylor. Herman said he thought the Longhorns made strides last Saturday.
Junior running back Keaontay Ingram and freshman running back Bijan Robinson combined for over 100 yards rushing, in what Herman said he thought was the team’s best game running the football. Texas also picked up less penalties than it has in prior weeks, which was a “huge step.”
Still, Herman said the Longhorns haven’t brought their “A” game yet this season.
“We’ve got it in us. I know we do,” Herman said. “We’ve been building toward it for sure. I think we continue to improve as the season goes on, certainly defensively.”
While the defense has arguably gotten better each week, the offense has been inconsistent. Herman said wide receiver play has been “hit or miss.”
Oklahoma State’s receivers, on the other hand, are doing just fine, and so is the Cowboys’ backfield.
“There’s a Biletnikoff finalist at wide receiver lurking around there on the perimeter somewhere too,” Herman said. “Very, very difficult offense to defend against because of those two great skill players in Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace.”
The Cowboys don’t have many obvious weaknesses, and Herman said they look like an elite, championship team. The Longhorns will try hard to put a game in Oklahoma State’s loss column.
“We know it’s going to take everybody playing at the very top of their game,” Herman said.