Oklahoma State football: Have Cowboys lost a step vs. Texas?

Oklahoma State football fans have some rightfully held bitter feelings toward Texas. It’s widely agreed that the Longhorns have disrupted the Big 12 order, alienating many schools and ushering the departure of longtime conference members like Missouri, Nebraska, and Colorado to other leagues.

Then, Texas and OU secretly schemed this past calendar year to join the SEC in sensational news that broke late in the summer of 2021. The Big 12 will add four decent football programs, sure, but it will be difficult for OSU and the conference to replace the brand and national prestige of the two biggest schools in the Sooners and Longhorns.

Despite its recent success against Texas in the past decade, Oklahoma State football has lost two straight games against the SEC-bound Longhorns.

Before, though, OSU fans could claim some supremacy against the Longhorns on the football field. Texas has notably struggled in the past decade, losing at least five games during a stretch from 2013 to 2017 and generally underachieving with all of the talent and resources available to them in a way that few other programs can match outside of Ann Arbor, Mich. and Tallahassee, Fla. The Cowboys beat the Longhorns in seven out of nine meetings up to 2018, including five consecutive wins in Austin.

That’s changed in the past couple years. In his first year on the job, former Alabama assistant and USC boss Steve Sarkisian may be able to change the toxic culture in Austin in ways that his predecessors, Charlie Strong and Tom Herman, couldn’t.

Texas has beaten OSU in each of the past two seasons. The Longhorns have produced more NFL Draft picks than the Cowboys in each of the past two springs, and Texas has finished with a higher AP ranking than OSU in each of the past three seasons.

Given these troublesome facts, it’s fair to ask if the Longhorns have gained a step on the Cowboys in the past couple years.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Last year’s 41-34 loss to Texas came in overtime. The Cowboys had outgained the Longhorns by 243 yards and had 15 more first downs, only to turn the ball over four times. OSU had tied the game with an Alex Hale field goal as time expired but fell in the extra period.

The year before, OSU made Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (281 passing yards and four touchdowns) look like a Heisman Trophy winner in a 36-30 Longhorns victory, snapping a four-game Cowboys winning streak in the series.

The past four games between these two teams has been decided by one possession or less. This year’s game will draw considerable national attention, as it’s the only other matchup besides No. 1 Georgia and No. 11 Kentucky (with an ESPN College GameDay visit) that features two ranked teams.

On top of that, the No. 12-ranked Cowboys will be six-point underdogs against No. 25 Texas this weekend. While OSU fans should be a bit concerned about the Texas rushing offense and All-American candidate Bijan Robinson, they should be encouraged by the Cowboys’ steadfast defense and the improved game flow by quarterback Spencer Sanders.

Jaylen Warren is shaping up to be the next great OSU back, and wide receiver Tay Martin‘s return from injury has injected new life into the OSU offense. The team is 5-0 for the first time since 2015 and has risen in the rankings after two consecutive Top 25 wins against Kansas State and Baylor.

To reverse any more feelings of a slide against the Longhorns, the Cowboys will want to snatch a road win this weekend. It could easily be their last visit to Austin while the two schools are both Big 12 members and it would snap a two-game series skid, a first since 2008 and 2009.