This week's game is certainly predicted to be a tighter affair than last week's game in Columbia.
Texas' passing game performance against the Tigers has evened up the offensive numbers for the Longhorns. And this week the stats say the opponent is much stronger against the run than the pass as Oklahoma St. ranks 9th nationally in total rushing yards allowed per carry but only 79th in total passing yards allowed per attempt. The Cowboys are above average in forcing turnovers, so McCoy will need to do a better job protecting the ball in this game if the Longhorns want to stay out of their typical 3-touchdown first-half deficit in Stillwater. The good news on that end is that Oklahoma St. ranks only 77th in sacks per opponent passing attempt. Offensive production in this game should be squarely on his shoulders as the passing game should have a much easier time than the running game.
Perhaps due to injury issues this season, on offense the Cowboys haven't been nearly as effective in 2009 running the ball. So far this year they are an astonishingly low #103 in the country in total rushing yards per carry. That is only slightly better than the Missouri offense that the 'Horns were able to dominate last week. The difference is in the passing game where Zac Robinson and the Cowboys are #12 at over 8 yards per attempt even with Dez Bryant's missed time. Contributing to the passing production has been their ability to avoid the sack as Robinson has gone down in the backfield only once every 37 pass attempts or so.
For the first time this season the Longhorns are at a disadvantage in special teams heading into a matchup. Oklahoma St. is #11 in net punting average, #6 in punt return average, and #7 in net kickoff average so far this year. And while they rank only 99th in kickoff return average there is still danger there with Texas' inconsistent coverage and the dangerous Perrish Cox returning kicks. The matchup when the Cowboys kick off, though, is great on great and should be fun to watch. Let's hope we only get the chance once or twice.
Overall it is the best matchup for the Longhorn offense since the stats have been available, particularly in the passing game. Keep in mind that this team was outgained on a per-play basis by Missouri just two weeks ago and they only beat Rice by 17. That may seem reasonable as far as a standard football victory goes, but this year's Rice team is historically inept. In fact, Rice outgained Oklahoma St. on the day, although the Cowboys were certainly more successful on a per-play basis. Either way, it was the only time this year that Rice has stayed within 100 yards of their opponent.