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Texas vs. Oklahoma State: Five questions facing the Longhorns

Hookem

Five questions facing Texas (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) vs. No. 12 Oklahoma State (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday (11 a.m., Fox):

Who will step up in Jordan Whittington's absence?

Texas fans shouldn't expect to see Whittington (clavicle) for a while. His 24 receptions are tied for the team lead, but fellow starters Xavier Worthy and Joshua Moore combined for 331 receiving yards and four touchdowns last week against Oklahoma. Can a reserve receiver fill Whittington's void? Kelvontay Dixon (three catches, 48 yards), Marcus Washington (2-23) and Kai Money (1-7) are the only other receivers on the roster who have caught a pass this season.

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Oklahoma State running back Jaylen Warren scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' 24-14 win over Baylor. The Utah State graduate transfer has had 218-, 123- and 125-yard performances over his last three games.

Will Jaylen Warren run wild against Texas?

Warren, a graduate transfer from Utah State, ran for just 46 yards over Oklahoma State's first two games. He has since broken out with 218-, 123- and 125-yard performances. He also had 81 receiving yards to complement his 123 yards on the ground against Kansas State. Can he join the likes of Chuba Hubbard (121 yards in 2019) and Justice Hill (135 yards in 2016, 117 yards in 2017) as Cowboys running backs who have recently rushed for 100 yards against Texas?

Will the Texas defense avoid a second-half breakdown?

For Texas, the second halves of Big 12 games have been adventurous. Texas Tech had third-quarter touchdown catches that covered 69 and 75 yards. TCU stayed in its game with a 99-yard drive in the fourth quarter. And in last week's meltdown at the Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma scored 32 points after UT took an 18-point lead with 2 minutes, 45 seconds left in the third quarter. If Texas again builds a halftime lead — its three halftime leads in conference games have averaged 17.3 points — can its defense shut the door?

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Will any Longhorn break free for a long gain?

Over Texas' last four games, Worthy, Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson have all gained at least 50 yards on a play. Both Worthy and Bijan Robinson have done so twice, and Moore got behind the Oklahoma secondary last week for a 48-yard touchdown catch. Only two gains against Oklahoma State in 2021 have gone for more than 50 yards — a 55-yard run by Baylor's Abram Smith on Oct. 2 and Deuce Vaughn's 55-yard catch for Kansas State on Sept. 25.

Will this be a close game?

Of the past six Texas-Oklahoma State games, five have been decided by seven points or fewer. Two of those — Oklahoma State's 13-10 win in 2017 and UT's 41-34 victory last year — went into overtime. Oklahoma State is one of 13 undefeated teams left in the country, but the Cowboys' margin of victory is only 6.8 points. Over its last two games, Texas has suffered a 55-48 loss and earned a 32-27 win.

Danny Davis