Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 28, 2012 at 9:49 PM
The last time they took the field, the Texas Longhorns scored 66 points against Ole Miss of the SEC. What’s going to happen when run into the run-and-gun fast break style of Oklahoma State Saturday Night in a game to be nationally televised by FOX?
Well, first of all, the game could be so long that it turns into Sunrise Sermonette on Sunday morning. The Big 12 has become noted for playing marathon games because so many teams pass so often. Oklahoma State is looking for that kind of game because that’s how they win. Should the home team determine the flow of game, we could see something that ends up in the 90’s or 100’s for total points scored.
But, this isn’t Colt McCoy’s Texas Longhorns any more. And, Mack Brown has been public about his sentiment for molding a smash mouth team to look more like Alabama than recent Big 12 powers. Texas wants to win on the ground…keep its defense fresh…and sent a message to the rest of the conference that they are back in business after a couple of seasons that left locals and the national media scratching their heads.
The first part of that message was sent at Ole Miss. But, it was a game that started late, didn’t get great TV ratings, and may not matter much in the big picture because Ole Miss isn’t that good this year. Just another easy September win for a Texas team that doesn’t like to test itself early any more. It’s THIS WEEK that matters. Beat Oklahoma State on the road…and you can start making a BCS case. Lose on the road, and everyone’s back to wondering what the heck happened to Mack Brown after McCoy and Vince Young weren’t there in superhero garb on the field.
Let’s see what our indicator stat says about the possibilities…
TEXAS at OKLAHOMA STATE (7:50 p.m. on FOX)
Las Vegas Spread: Texas by 2.5, total of 65
Texas is getting respect off its road win at Ole Miss, particularly in tandem with Oklahoma State’s road loss to Arizona (we’ll look at both of those boxscores in a moment). The market is saying Texas would be a six-point favorite on a neutral field (and possibly more because Okie State often gets more than three points at this site). And, then 9-10 points were the game scheduled for Austin. When you look at it that way, it’s clear Texas is getting A LOT of respect in the number. The market is buying what Mack Brown is selling (though the line has come down from Texas by 3 late in the week).
CURRENT AP POLL RANKINGS
Oklahoma State: unranked
The Cowboys were ranked until the big loss at Arizona. The polls punished them for that result, as they did other ranked teams who posted ugly results. It should be noted that Oklahoma State actually had good stats in that game, and has otherwise played like a ranked team. It’s possible that we’re looking at something closer to #14 vs. #15…and maybe even two teams in the top dozen. We’ll know more once the Big 12 season plays itself out. There’s a lot of confusion once you get past the obvious choices in the SEC, Oregon, and FSU. We’ve talked this week about the Big Ten being overranked. It would not be a shock if both of these teams are underranked. Would YOU take Oklahoma State on a neutral field over Michigan State and Oklahoma State right now?
Texas: Mack Brown
Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy
Gundy has always been up-tempo, run-and-gun, with the volume turned up to 11, after five cups of coffee and a can of Red Bull. Brown has tended to coach to his quarterbacks…or to his most talented offensive threat. The program derailed when Garrett Gilbert turned to be horrible rather than an heir apparent to McCoy (he’s still struggling at SMU!) Gundy wants a track meet. Brown’s okay with that because he recruits track stars. Unfortunately his quarterback isn’t up to that style. Brown truly wants to win with the Alabama model of rushing and defense. He’s okay winning high scoring games that way…but he’s going to emphasize smash mouth here. If it doesn’t work…the Horns weren’t as tough as Brown thought they were.
Texas: David Ash
Oklahoma State: Wes Lunt or J. W. Walsh
Lunt is battling an injury. Given how college coaches now hide information about injuries from the media…it’s possible that he’s in a full body cast like in those comedy shows…or that he’s going to be fine and throwing the ball with reckless abandon. It’s important to remember that OSU runs a system offense…and that many QB’s who know what they’re doing can post huge numbers here. Brandon Weeden looked like a god, but has struggled badly so far in the NFL. Lunt or Walsh will have a chance to do damage as long as they make good reads.
Normally in this spot, we move to last week’s boxscores. No reason to do that off of bye weeks for both teams. Let’s run the numbers for the only games these guys have played vs. opponents from BCS conferences…
ONLY BOXSCORES VS. BCS CONFERENCE TEAMS
TEXAS 66, MISSISSIPPI 21
Total Yardage: Texas 676, Ole Miss 399
Rushing Yards: Texas 350, Ole Miss 179
Passing Stats: Texas 19-24-0-326, Ole Miss 17-30-3-229
Turnovers: Texas 0, Ole Miss 3
Third Downs: Texas 58%, Ole Miss 33%
Vegas Line: Texas by 10.5, total of 51
On the one hand, both Texas and Oklahoma State were laying -10.5 on the road…which makes for a great comparison. On the other, we have such extreme results that it’s going to create some illusions. Texas won by 45, helped partly by a 3-0 edge in turnovers. You’ll see in a moment that Oklahoma State lost by 21 because of a 4-0 deficit. No, Texas isn’t 66 points better than Oklahoma State. Keys to note in this Texas-Ole Miss boxscore are the 350 rushing yards for the Horns, the massive 676 yard total volume (Brown was sending a message to potential recruits that they should still play for Texas in the Big 12 rather than Texas A&M in the SEC), the extremely efficient passing game that saw only five incomplete passes, and that impressive 58% on third downs. This was beautiful football if you read boxscores for a living.
ARIZONA 59, OKLAHOMA STATE 38
Total Yardage: Oklahoma State 636, Arizona 501
Rushing Yards: Oklahoma State 200, Arizona 181
Passing Stats: Oklahoma State 37-60-3-436, Arizona 28-40-0-320
Turnovers: Oklahoma State 4, Arizona 0
Third Downs: Oklahoma State 50%, Arizona 47%
Vegas Line: Oklahoma State by 10.5, total of 70
Okay, this was pretty attractive too! The turnovers did Okie state in. But, they did win total yardage by more than 100, rushing yardage, and third downs. They don’t have an efficient passing game because quarterbacks are instructed to throw the ball away if nothing’s there. Okie State had 23 incomplete passes rather than 12 for Arizona or five for Texas in the Ole Miss game. But, you can see that top 25 quality is still here in the big picture…and that Oklahoma State is likely to be pretty lethal when NOT giving the ball away.
As is so often the case in football, it’s going to come down to turnovers. If Oklahoma State plays clean, then we’re looking at very clear upset potential in a high scoring shootout. The game will last all night. We’ll see a run at 100 total points being scored between the two teams. But, if Okie State has some miscues, then Texas will grind up clock, own the point of attack, and probably march into the end zone all night with a safer approach that can move down the field easily vs. a soft defense. Maybe it still goes Over in a 65-40 kind of way. Maybe Brown really emphasizes the clock…and it’s a tamer but safe victory. Definitely some extremes in play…and definitely a fantastic test for BOTH teams looking to contend in the very competitive Big 12 this season. It may not be the best “matchup” of the day in terms of poll rankings. This has a chance to be the best game of the day for entertainment…and the most important for what we learn about the immediate future for both teams.
JIM HURLEY has been all over this game looking for edges this week. Finding a MONSTER on Saturday Night is great for money management because you can reinvest your daytime winnings and build that profit pyramid even quicker. Check the home page of this website Saturday morning to find out if Texas-Oklahoma State made the cut. It might be a “game of the year” qualifier if information from our sources checks out. It might be part of a TV Triple Crown. And, given the huge schedule of conference matchups today…it could turn out that the best plays are elsewhere on the card. We preview the big TV games for you here in the NOTEBOOK. But, JIM HURLEY isn’t locked in to playing only TV games. You get the closest thing to virtual locks that there are when you sign up.
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