The Longhorns were unable to slow down redshirt senior quarterback Baker Mayfield and the potent Sooner offense in a 29-24 loss to then-No. 12 Oklahoma last week.
Mayfield completed 17 of 27 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns. His lone flaw of the game came via Longhorn junior defensive back John Bonney’s streak-saving interception. Texas’ defense finished the game with 518 total yards allowed, the worst mark of the season.
This week, the Longhorns go against another formidable foe in No. 10 Oklahoma State. Led by senior quarterback Mason Rudolph, the Cowboys boast the top offense in the Big 12, leading the conference in both yards and points.
Rudolph has the talent to match that of Mayfield and could put up similar numbers against Texas. On the season, he’s completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,368 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Texas wins this game if its defense returns to form. Rudolph isn’t as accurate as Mayfield and has been more susceptible to turnovers. If the Longhorns continue to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes, they’ll continue to be competitive in each game.
The Cowboys’ only loss of the season came from the hands of TCU in Week 4. In that game, the then-No. 16 Horned Frogs built a lead early in the first half and rode sophomore running back Darius Anderson to a 44-31 win over the Cowboys.
Anderson finished the game with 26 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns and also caught four passes for 41 yards. His production allowed TCU to grind down the clock and keeps Oklahoma State’s prolific offense off the field.
Texas will need to do the same. The Longhorns’ running backs have been exceedingly inconsistent this season and freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads the team with 275 rushing yards.
With no clear-cut leader in the backfield, head coach Tom Herman has used a running-back-by-committee approach. Running backs junior Chris Warren III and sophomore Kyle Porter have gotten the bulk of opportunities, but freshman Toneil Carter has entered the frame as a change-of-pace back. None have been able to produce much with their chances.
Against the Sooners last week, Warren led the pack with six carries, followed by Carter with five and Porter with three. The trio combined for 17 yards on the ground.
Former Longhorn running back D’Onta Foreman made Texas a force to be reckoned with on the ground last season, which makes this season’s ineffectiveness that much more disappointing. The Longhorn defense will need as much help as it can get in this game. Texas loses this game if the running backs are unable to provide it.