Oklahoma State Cowboys mascot Pistol Pete looks on during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs November 7, 2015 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Horned Frogs 49-29. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Football

Betting on the Horns: Texas has OSU right where it wants it — in Stillwater

Posted September 30th, 2016

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If there’s one thing a fan could bank on for the past decade of the Texas-Oklahoma State series, it’s a victory by the visiting team.

The past eight times the Longhorns ventured into Stillwater, they roped the Cowboys. The past four times Oklahoma State played in Austin, Pistol Pete came away a happy camper.

Only once during that stretch did the winning team fail to cover the point spread. Oklahoma State is favored by 2½ Saturday.

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But, shouldn’t Texas wins this game in Stillwater because, well, it always does?

Of course not, but … Oklahoma State has not been the same team that sprinted to a 10-0 record and No. 6 ranking in mid-November of last year. Since then, the Cowboys are 2-5 and have been outscored 254-174 by FBS teams.

Oklahoma State’s 2-2 record this year is a surprise because this is the most experienced team in the Big 12, one with 18 returning starters, including an excellent quarterback in Mason Rudolph.

The Cowboys’ problems revolve around a porous pass defense that’s ranked 118th in the NCAA in efficiency and a shaky offensive line. The struggles of that line, whose members have more career starts combined than any other unit in the Big 12, contribute heavily to these dismal rankings: 109th in rushing offense, 115th in sacks allowed and 126th in tackles for loss allowed.

Still, it’s not a great matchup for Texas, whose defense — ranked 122nd nationally in defending the pass — figures to get torched by Rudolph, James Washington and company. Plus, Oklahoma State, after losing its league opener, is already in a win-at-all-costs mode.

The pick: Definitely a good game to pass (in more ways than one). If absolutely pressed, we’ll close our eyes and take Texas, hoping the road play is good one more time in this strange series.

Big 12 look: The line looks to be right for Oklahoma (-3½) at TCU, but we just can’t picture the Sooners with a 1-3 record heading into the Texas game. They’ve been dumped on for weeks; now they prove they’re not dead yet.

Nationally: Can’t resist weighing in on a couple of big games. As great as Louisville has looked, Clemson (+2) will defend its Death Valley turf against the Cardinals and jumble the ACC Atlantic race. … Tennessee (-3), after finally shedding its Florida demons, goes between the hedges and handles Georgia.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story has been edited to correct the betting line for the game.

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