The longest-tenured coach in the Big 12 will have the last shot at handing the Longhorns a loss before they depart to the SEC, and the stakes are higher than ever.
Oklahoma State will clash with Texas at Jerry’s World Saturday morning, and the College football world will be watching to see if Mike Gundy can pull the unthinkable. The No. 7 Longhorns are trying to go out on top, and leave with the Big 12 hardware. However, Gundy’s boys have nothing to lose in this matchup, and everything to gain, which makes them dangerous.
There’s no denying Gundy has a golden opportunity to show the naysayers that his Big 12 Coach of the Year honor was no fluke. The national pundits aren’t giving the Cowboys a chance to win this game, considering they’re more than two-touchdown underdogs. Not to mention Texas is loaded on both sides of the ball, and solid on special teams.
Gundy has the nation’s best offensive weapon in running back Ollie Gordon though. He leads the FBS in rushing yards, and is a load for would-be tacklers to bring down. It just so happens that Texas (11-1) has a massive defensive line, that eat ball-carriers for breakfast. The Longhorns are only allowing 85 rushing yards per game, which is fourth-best in the country.
That’s why Gundy should be looking for other ways to move the ball, because Texas is going to load up the box to stop Gordon. Wideout Brennan Presley is capable of moving the chains in multiple ways. Gundy needs to make sure to use Presley on jet sweeps, bubble screens and even take snaps out of the Wildcat formation. Anything to keep an aggressive Longhorn defense honest, and on their heels.
Make no mistakes, the pressure is on Coach Steve Sarkisian and Texas. The rest of the Big 12 will be rooting for Oklahoma State, and Gundy has a chance to sweep Texas and Oklahoma in both program’s final season in the league. The Cowboys have won the past two meetings against the Longhorns too, and it helps that Gundy knows the Big 12 style of play like the back of his hand.
Quarterback Alan Bowman is starting in the biggest game of his career, and needs to keep his head on a swivel. He has thrown a jaw-dropping, six interceptions over the past three games. There’s no way he can make mistakes like that against a vaunted Longhorn defense, if the Cowboys plan on pulling off an upset.
It’s no mystery that Gundy’s team has a small margin for error, and needs to play one of their best games of the season in order to be within striking distance in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State (9-3) came within a yard of winning the Big 12 Title against Baylor in 2021. There are several players on the roster who experienced that gut-wrenching defeat, and learned from it.
So motivation for this contest shouldn’t be an issue. This game will likely be won in the trenches, so Gundy needs physicality from the big boys up front. The Big 12 will look totally different next season with the Pac-12 teams invading. Gundy can cement his legacy with a win, take reign of the conference for the near future and go down in Cowboy lore.