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Pokes and 'Horns meet in Big 12 showdown

One of the Big 12's marquee matchups this ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys against the 22nd-ranked Texas Longhorns.

Oklahoma State is a perfect 5-0 on the season, and the Cowboys have won four of those games in blowout fashion. The one exception being a tough 30-29 victory over No. 8 Texas A&M on September 24. The Pokes average a gaudy 51.4 ppg, which ranks them first in the nation, and they are coming off a 70-28 thrashing of visiting Kansas last weekend, matching their highest scoring output in nearly a century. OSU is coached by Mike Gundy, and the team is hoping to extend its current win streak over Big 12 teams from the state of Texas to seven.

A win in this contest will also give Oklahoma State its second straight 6-0 start, and just its fifth ever.

Texas opened the season with four straight wins, but last week's annual showdown with No. 3 Oklahoma resulted in a demoralizing 55-17 loss. Coach Mack Brown was certainly hoping for a better showing against one of the country's top teams, but one setback isn't going to deter the Longhorns from stampeding ahead in an effort to erase the memory of last year's disappointing 5-7 campaign in which they won only two of their eight league bouts.

Texas owns a commanding 22-3 advantage in the all-time series with Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys won last year's tussle, 33-16, snapping a 12-game slide versus the Longhorns in addition to posting their first win in Austin since 1944.

As mentioned, Oklahoma State has had no trouble chewing up huge chunks of yardage and putting a slew of points on the scoreboard this season. The offense is led by QB Brandon Weeden, and the former professional baseball player is the perfect field general for Gundy's troops, as he is hitting 75.8 percent of his passes for 376 ypg (second nationally) with 15 TDs against six INTs. Making Weeden's job easier is All-America WR Justin Blackmon, a big-play threat who demands extra attention from opposing defenses, but still finds a way to get down field and make things happen. Blackmon has 46 catches this season with six TDs, and he averages 106.8 receiving yards per game. As for the OSU ground attack, it typically accounts for roughly 146 ypg and has posted 14 TDs. RB Joseph Randle (90 carries, 484 yards, eight TDs) is the man largely responsible for that production.

With the offense getting most of the press, the defense has been given a pass to this point, although Gundy knows that for his team to reach its goals, the guys he asks to stop the opposition need to step up their efforts. Through the first five games, the Pokes rank 75th in the country against the run (165.8 ypg), and an even worse 103rd in both pass defense (272.2 ypg) and total defense (438 ypg). They have however, made a number of big plays in logging more than six TFL per outing and coming up with a total of 17 turnovers, 10 of which haven been INTs. Safety Daytawion Lowe is the team's leading tackler with 34 stops, DE Jamie Blatnick has three of the club's 14 sacks, and CB Brodrick Brown has three picks.

Both units enjoyed considerable success against an overmatched Kansas squad last week, as the offense was firing on all cylinders and the defense did its part to keep the Jayhawks at bay. OSU set new schools records for points in the opening quarter (35) and the first half (56), and Weeden established a new school benchmark of his own by completing 85.7 percent of his passes (24- of-28) for 288 yards and five TDs. Blackmon and Hubert Anyiam each had a pair of scoring catches, and a total of eight different players reached the end zone. It was such a complete offensive effort, that even Weeden's backup, Clint Chelf, threw for more than 200 yards, and the 494 passing yards amassed in the game was the second-highest figure in school history.

Coach Gundy likes the mental makeup of his charges thus far, "I like the demeanor of our team and I like their chemistry. I've mentioned that the last few years and we've been fortunate that we have good leaders and they understand what it takes for us to prepare and have success. You're focus on Sunday through Thursday is what makes you a better football team on Saturday."

Texas went into last week's clash with Oklahoma hoping to hang with the Sooners long enough to have a chance at pulling off the upset, but such was not the case as the Longhorns gained just 259 total yards and committed a whopping five turnovers -- three of which were returned for TDs by the opportunistic Sooners. The UT offense scored just one TD against the OU defense, and QBs David Ash (11-of-20, 107 yards, one TD, two INTs) and Case McCoy (9-of-16, 116 yards) were under constant pressure. WRs Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis combined for 15 catches, 179 yards and a score. RB Fozzy Whittaker tied a school record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD right before the half, and he added 43 rushing yards on only seven carries -- the Longhorns mustering a mere 36 net yards on the ground for the game.

Coach Brown was clearly not happy with the performance of his offense, "We lost with five turnovers for 24 points. Once again, inexcusable. You can't do that and beat anybody, much less a really good football team. And we've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball, and we've got to throw the ball away and not take the sacks. We had eight sacks. Two of them were on reverses, but six of them were on dropback passes where we need to get rid of the ball."

With the offense continually giving the ball back to Oklahoma, the Texas defense actually did a decent job, at least against the run. The Sooners were permitted just 86 rushing yards, but the pass was another story entirely as the 'Horns were torched by OU QB Landry Jones, who went 31-of-50 for 367 yards and three TDs. No UT defender had more than eight tackles (Blake Gideon and Emmanuel Acho) in the game, and the 'Horns came up with just a single takeaway and only one sack.

Despite last week's lopsided outcome, Texas is averaging 30.8 points and 388.4 total yards per game. The rushing attack generates 172.0 ypg, and the pass 216.4 ypg. The team's offensive TDs are almost evenly split with nine coming on the ground and eight through the air. Both McCoy and Ash are completing better than 61 percent of their pass attempts. As for the defense, its typical yields stands at 22.8 points and 321.8 total yards per contest. Defending the run has been the unit's strength, as foes average just 105.8 ypg and have scored just four rushing TDs. Acho is the team's top tackler, having posted 53 stops, six of which have been behind the line of scrimmage.