As it turns out, the Texas secondary is not invincible.
A unit that was ranked as the nation’s second best heading into Saturday was picked apart by Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden in a 33-16 loss, the Longhorns fourth straight home loss for the first time since 1956. Weeden completed 29 of 43 passes for 409 yards and one touchdown and the nation’s leading receiver, Justin Blackmon, had nine receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown.
“Weeden was unbelievable,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He made throws that very few college quarterbacks can make.”
One throw in particular stood out — a 67-yard bomb to Blackmon early in the second quarter that put the Cowboys up 16-3, and sucked all the momentum out of the Longhorns for the rest of the night. Cornerback Aaron Williams, the best defensive back Texas has, matched Blackmon step for step, but Weeden’s pass fell just beyond his grasp.
“It was just a great throw and a great catch,” Williams said in a melancholy tone after the game. “[Blackmon] is just a great receiver. Oklahoma State is a great team. We fought hard, but things went their way.”
As a testament as to how good Blackmon is, Brown compared him to Michael Crabtree, the former Texas Tech standout that ruined the Longhorns’ chances of making it to the national championship in 2008, and complimented him further by saying Williams “covered Blackmon the best anyone could.”
Though Blackmon accounted for the majority of receiving yards, Weeden found six other wideouts who all had receptions over 20 yards. Out of the eight receivers Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert passed to, only two surpassed the 20-yard mark.
The Cowboys’ balanced offense allowed them to taunt the Longhorns with their running game as well. And just like in the UCLA, Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas State games, Texas could not stop the run. Heralded tailback Kendall Hunter, who was averaging 137.8 yards per game before playing Texas, gained 116 of the Cowboys 123 total rushing yards. He also scored two touchdowns.
“That Oklahoma State offense ... That’s not our scout team we’re playing against,” junior safety Blake Gideon said. “They’ve got great athletes on the [offensive] side of the ball and they showcased that.”
Two weeks ago against Kansas State, Texas knew that running back Daniel Thomas would get the ball the majority of the game, yet the Longhorns had no answer. Same thing this weekend — Texas knew Blackmon and Hunter were going to get the ball, but their talent was unstoppable.
“Blackmon gets over 100 yards, Hunter gets over 100 yards,” Brown said. “That puts pressure on you.”
Before the game got out of hand, the Texas defense did what coordinator Will Muschamp has been emphasizing all season — holding the opponent to a field goal or less in Texas territory. On Oklahoma State’s first series, it drove down to the Texas 6-yard line and had to settle for a field goal. Then on the Cowboys’ next drive, safety Kenny Vaccaro intercepted Weeden on the UT 34.
The Texas players were fist pumping and it looked like the night might turn out differently than it had the past four weeks.
But OSU took control of the game in the second quarter, scoring points on four out of its five drives.
“We always talk about wanting to start fast and obviously we didn’t,” Gideon said. “It’s kind of a downer when you look up at the scoreboard and we’ve given up touchdowns early. As a defense, we need to rise to the occasion.”
After the game, Muschamp complimented Oklahoma State’s effectiveness on offense, a group that ranks No. 3 in the nation in passing offense (354 yards per game), total offense (549 yards per game) and scoring offense (46 points per game).
“We tried to mix it up during the game, but they’re very fast,” Muschamp said. “They’re very balanced and we didn’t stop them.”
Texas has two guaranteed games left this season and it has to win both to become bowl eligible.