Here are five key matchups in the Texas-Oklahoma State game to keep your eye on Saturday night:
1. OSU’s pass rush vs. Texas’ front line
After a solid stretch of games, none of Texas’ offensive linemen earned a “championship grade” in the 23-17 win over Baylor on Oct. 13. The big boys can get back in assistant coach Herb Hand’s good graces on Saturday, but it won’t be easy. Oklahoma State is the only team in the country with 30 sacks, and Jordan Brailford leads the Big 12 with eight. Texas ranks third in the Big 12 in sacks allowed, having given up just 10, but only one team — Kansas State — has held the Cowboys to fewer than three so far.
EDGE: Oklahoma State
2. Texas’ Collin Johnson vs. OSU’s Rodarius Williams
Johnson’s 41 catches and 563 receiving yards are only barely behind Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s team-leading totals of 42 catches and 576 yards. But Humphrey won’t start against the Cowboys after being disciplined for breaking a team rule, though he will play at some point. And Johnson has caught a touchdown in four straight games, a streak that’s tied for fifth-best streak in school history. Defenses have thrown plenty of double-teams at Johnson, but might the 6-6 playmaker get a one-on-one showdown with either the 6-foot Williams or opposing cornerback A.J. Green, who’s 6-1? No Cowboy has more than one interception, but Williams has broken up seven passes.
3. Justice Hill vs. Texas’ run defense
Hill, one of the conference’s top running backs, has rushed for 684 yards and seven touchdowns and has a history against the Longhorns; the 5-10, 190-pound junior has compiled 252 yards against Texas over the last two seasons, both Oklahoma State wins. The Longhorns have raved about Hill throughout the week — “This guy’s a stud,” head coach Tom Herman said on Monday — but UT also has something to brag about: The Longhorns have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher and their rushing defense ranks 31st nationally, allowing 126.4 yards per game.
EDGE: Oklahoma State
4. Texas’ Caden Sterns vs. OSU’s Chuba Hubbard
Eight players have won the Big 12’s newcomer of the week award so far, and two of them will be on the field in Stillwater. Hubbard, a redshirt freshman running back and kick returner from Canada, was honored after he registered 149 all-purpose yards in Oklahoma State’s opener against Missouri State. Sterns, a freshman safety and Thorpe Award semifinalist, was lauded for his two-interception performance against TCU on Sept. 22. Hubbard was a three-star prospect coming out of high school; Sterns was a five-star safety and one of the keys to UT’s 2018 signing class that ranked No. 3 nationally.
5. Texas snapper Justin Mader vs. Texas’ Stillwater history
The Longhorns have lost their last three games against Oklahoma State, and two of those were marred by blunders on UT special teams. In 2016 — the last time the game was in Stillwater — the Cowboys attacked the middle of UT’s offensive line and specifically former snapper Jak Holbrook and blocked three extra points in the first half of a 49-31 win. Mader walked on at Texas this year and is now being used as the snapper on field goals and extra points. So far, none of fellow freshman Cameron Dicker’s 15 field goal tries or the 25 extra-point kicks have been blocked.