Clint Chelf gives Cowboys an edge at QB but Case McCoy has the better supporting cast

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Quarterbacks

After throwing an early interception against West Virginia, Case McCoy threw for three touchdown passes, including the game-winner in overtime. McCoy also had a crucial fourth-down completion to junior Jaxon Shipley on the last drive of regulation. After throwing five interceptions in a three-game stretch, McCoy has recollected himself. Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf has started the last three games since leading the Cowboys to a 24-10 win over TCU. Chelf helped hand Texas Tech their second loss of the season by scoring four touchdowns, including a 67-yard touchdown run that put the game away in the third quarter. He is the type of dual-threat quarterback that can give Texas trouble.

Advantage: Oklahoma State

 

Running Backs

The Longhorns were dealt a huge blow when Johnathan Gray left the game with a season-ending Achilles injury against West Virginia. Losing the Big 12’s third-leading rusher will increase the role of Malcolm Brown, who has 379 yards and seven touchdowns in the last three games. Joe Bergeron will have an opportunity to prove himself. Desmond Roland exploded for  219 yards and four touchdowns against Iowa State three weeks ago. Roland has since scored five touchdowns, including a three-score performance against Texas Tech. Jeremy Smith has had a limited role since early October with just 16 carries in the last three games. 

Advantage: Texas

 

Wide Receivers

If Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart, who is questionable with an ankle injury, doesn’t play, Tracy Moore becomes the Cowboys’ top wideout. Moore has 110 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games, including a 77-yard, two-touchdown performance in the 42-6 win over Kansas last week. Jhajuan Seales and Charlie Moore have a combined for 612 yards and four touchdowns. Jaxon Shipley caught his first touchdown pass of the season and made a game-saving fourth-down catch against West Virginia. Senior Mike Davis caught made a key 49-yard touchdown catch in that game as well. With five receivers each with at least 300 yards this year, McCoy has plenty of weapons.

Advantage: Texas

 

Offensive Line

Oklahoma State has allowed only one sack in the last three games but didn’t see a pass rush like it’ll see against Texas during that stretch. The Cowboys have six more rushing touchdowns than Texas despite running the ball nearly 50 fewer times, with more than 90 percent of those scores coming in the red zone. The Longhorns have allowed just two sacks in their last five games but could have trouble against a Cowboys defense that has seven sacks in the last four games. Texas has rushed for more than 200 yards per game over the last five weeks but will sorely miss Gray against the country’s No. 27 rush defense.

Advantage: Texas

 

Defensive Line:

Cowboys sack leader and former minor leaguer Tyler Johnson doesn’t have a sack in the last three games. He stole 94 bases in the Angels’ farm system and leads a defense that has the 10th-most tackles for loss in the country. Texas will be without its leading scorer, defensive tackle Chris Whaley, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Junior Desmond Jackson, who had two sacks against West Virginia, takes his place. The Longhorns’ defensive line notched six sacks last week and forced five forced fumbles, recovering two. Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed are both second in the Big 12 with seven sacks apiece on the season.

Advantage: Texas

 

Linebackers

The Longhorns gave up 40 points to West Virginia, as many as it gave up in the previous three games combined. They struggled in the red zone but Steve Edmond sealed the win with an interception in the end zone in overtime. Oklahoma State has the nation’s No. 27 run defense, along with the No. 11 red zone defense in the country. Kansas State, the only one of the Big 12’s four best rush offenses, ran for 133 yards on the Cowboys in a 33-29 Oklahoma State win. Shaun Lewis leads the Cowboys linebackers with 33 solo tackles on the season and has three interceptions on the year. 

Advantage: Oklahoma State

 

Defensive Backs

Mario Alford’s 72-yard touchdown catch last week was the first touchdown pass Texas gave up in four weeks. Paul Millard threw for 259 yards, snapping a four-game streak of holding quarterbacks to less than 200 yards passing. Texas had not yet faced any of the Top 4 passing teams in the Big 12. Oklahoma State’s 16 interceptions are the seventh-most in the nation, four of them coming from senior Justin Gilbert. The Cowboys have just the nation’s No. 84 pass defense but can take advantage of an interception-prone McCoy. 

Advantage: Oklahoma State

 

Special Teams

Texas had a punt blocked for a safety on its first possession against West Virginia and are among the 10 worst kick return coverage teams in the country, allowing a 43-yard return against the Mountaineers. Gilbert, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown last week against Kansas, did the same the last time Oklahoma State visited Austin. The Cowboys’ kick coverage team allows less than 20 yards per return and they blocked a Texas Tech punt that allowed Oklahoma State to take a commanding 21-0 lead.

Advantage: Oklahoma State