Expert College Football Picks: Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma State Cowboys, Saturday Oct. 27, 8 p.m. ET
Tom Herman was a very highly-touted hire in Austin, and in just his second year he is showing why. His team got the win over Oklahoma they crave more than any other and added overwhelming wins over USC and TCU. They are in the playoff picture, and they would be in much better shape if it weren't for that opening loss at Maryland that made little sense at the time and makes much less now. Texas still needs help ahead of them to make the final four, but this is a chance to make another statement and position themselves a little better. LSU and Michigan both likely stand in the way of the Longhorns and their postseason ambitions, and both are off this week, so Texas can improve their reputation with a big performance here and perhaps close the gap.
After losses in three of their last four games, the Oklahoma State season has come off the rails. They were well behind Oklahoma even in the most optimistic of preseason expectations, but the gap is so big now that all they can really hope for is ruining things for others. And they could certainly do that here, not only ending the playoff hopes of Texas but really opening up the race for the Big 12 title game as well. Stillwater is still a tough place to play, even if the Cowboys have lost their last two there, and they need to focus on being as inhospitable as possible.
Texas at Oklahoma State Betting Storylines
Oklahoma State's defense is a mess - even by the typical standards of the Cowboys and the Big 12. They are leaky on the ground, really leaky through the air, and they allow too many points. That has exposed their biggest issue this year - they are losing the time of possession battle badly. Teams know that the best way to beat Oklahoma State is to keep the ball out of the hands of their reasonably strong offense. They can do that by running the ball a lot. Or they can do it with a more pass-heavy attack, as Texas Tech did. Texas doesn't have a great offense, but they have their moments, and against Oklahoma they showed that when defense isn't a priority they can do some damage. They have really corrected the turnover issues that hurt them so badly against Maryland. If they can keep that trend rolling here then they are going to be in solid shape - and there is no particular reason to believe that Oklahoma State can stop them from doing so.
Oddly, this is only the second true road game that Texas has played - Maryland and Oklahoma were on neutral fields. The first was at Kansas State, and while Texas won it they didn't cover and struggled much more than they should have to come out on top 19-14. Texas has been playing a lot of close games, and they probably aren't going to be at their most comfortable in this setting. Oklahoma State needs to exploit that. The best way they can do that is to make QB Sam Ehlinger uncomfortable early. The last time we saw Ehlinger, he was knocked out with a sprained shoulder. He's healthy again but could be tentative as he tests things out. While Oklahoma State is not a well-rounded defense by any means, the one thing they are pretty good at is sacking quarterbacks. They lead the conference in sacks and have had at least five three times this year - all in wins. The Texas offensive line has improved as the season has gone along, but they aren't not a brick wall when it comes to defensive line pressure by any means. This is a potential vulnerability - and one that Oklahoma State absolutely has to exploit.
Texas at Oklahoma State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Texas favored by 2.5 points, and it has since moved through the key number of three to 3.5. There was a middling opportunity here for bettors who were on the ball. Nearly 70 percent of bets have been on the Longhorns, so the line movement makes sense, and we could see more movement. The total opened at 59.5 and has been stable in early action.
The Longhorns are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games in October and 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 games against teams with winning records. The Cowboys are 4-1 ATS in their last five following a bye but just 2-6 ATS in their last eight conference games. The favorites are 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings of the teams, but, oddly given that, the road teams are 9-2 ATS in the last 11.
Texas at Oklahoma State Predictions and Picks
Texas has been lucky to have the record that they have, but sometimes luck is what teams need during a strong season. They have the better defense, they have much better coaching, and they are feeling more confident. I don't expect a blowout, but Texas brings in confidence and that will be the difference. The Longhorns are the play - though I'd have been much happier if I had played it before it moved through the key number of three.
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