It’s been an unfortunate two weeks to be a Longhorns fan.
It may not be the Red River Showdown, but the annual meetings of these two teams from across the Red River always delivers a close game. And this one, while lower scoring, I'm sure felt eerily similar for Texas fans to last week’s epic showdown against OU.
Texas started off strong, likely looking to erase the memory of last week’s deflating loss. But slowly, and not necessarily surely, OSU clawed its way back. Some self-inflicted wounds by Texas today helped keep the Cowboys in it - including a couple key interceptions by the Cowboys defense.
Down the entire game until the middle of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys wrangled the Longhorns back to take a one-point lead with four minutes left in the game. Oklahoma State scored 19 straight and held the Longhorns scoreless to remain undefeated this season, 32-24.
Let’s give it up for the Oklahoma State defense. This veteran team, led by Jim Knowles, shut down Texas - and the explosive Bijan Robinson - and won the game. This is an incredibly tough defensive squad who has consistently and continually showed up, fought, and finished the games for OSU. They are truly a force to be reckoned with.
There may be room for improvement, but Oklahoma State continues to find ways to win, moving to 6-0 this season.
First Takeaway: Stuck In The Stall
As a cowboy, one place that you don’t want to be is in the stall. And definitely not with the longhorns.
Cowboys want to be running it through the field, taking off and finding the wide-open spaces. Today in Texas, however, it was all in the stall.
The offense didn’t produce a touchdown in the first half, kept only in the game by an incredible pick six from Jason Taylor II. The drives alternated between ending in punts, turnovers, or a field goal. Which, we like the points, we’ll take the points, but against an explosive team like Texas, you can’t always afford to not score touchdowns.
There was a lot of holding your breath when the offense was on the field. Sanders threw one interception and was close to getting picked off on a few dangerous tosses.
It was like momentum whiplash on each play in every drive, and in every drive. There were moments of connection, but as a whole, the offense was ineffective. Part of that is due to execution and decision making on the field, and part of that is due to play calling and time management and overall gamesmanship.
In the second half, a few things started clicking and the defense shut Texas down, allowing the offense, even though still not great, to make more plays.
The defense this year has tended to highlight the Cowboys’ highlights, and today it was the same story. Oklahoma State has got to figure out a way to get the offense out of its stall - before the fourth quarter.
Second Takeaway: Warren The Workhorse
Warren’s journey to Oklahoma State came out of his work effort and decision making. He took a risk on himself and transferred to OSU after two seasons with Utah State. When he steps onto the field, you know he’s going to do everything he can to get every inch of every yard.
From his first appearance this season, Warren has been the spark for Oklahoma State. Today he fought for every single inch of his 193 yards rushing on 33 carries. Even on the short runs, Warren is fighting, pushing, knowing that every play is important. Unfortunately, he seemed to be the only thing really working for the Cowboys’ offense today.
Warren has been sensational today, and it’s thanks to his consistency in the little things that the Cowboys could make this comeback.
And while Warren can do a lot, he is truly the definition of a workhorse (Workhorse Warren has a nice ring to it, yeah?), he can’t be the entire offense. Football just does not work that way.
Third Takeaway: Reining in Robinson
It’s a problem every single team to line up against Texas faces: how do you stop the slippery, explosive, and speedy running back that is Bijan Robinson?
Robinson is the real deal. No matter what team you cheer for, there’s no denying his talent.
In the first half, OSU allowed Robinson to do his thing. He had 13 carries and made big plays for the Longhorns, keeping them on top.
And then somehow, the Oklahoma State defense figured it out. Shutting down Robinson may not be feasible, but they figured out how to take him out of the game. He had just eight carries in the second half and totaled just 135 rushing yards. That’s not quite up to Robinson’s standards.
Robinson is an amazing player, and today the Cowboy defense figured out a way to rein him in just enough to beat Texas.