Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cowboys fired up for challenge of No. 1 Texas


Sorrentino's lightning round

Just because No. 1 Texas and No. 7 Oklahoma State have the two best defenses - statistically - in the Big 12, don't expect a low-scoring affair Saturday in Austin, Texas.

The Longhorns and the Cowboys have the two most balanced offenses in the Big 12. UT's Colt McCoy and OSU's Zac Robinson are both proficient passers with a plethora of receivers and an effective running game to keep defenses off balance.

My key matchup: Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant, who has averaged 7.7 receptions, 121.7 yards and 1.7 TD's per game in Big 12 play, against the young secondary of Texas.

Before the season, who would have thought this game would have national title implications? Not me.

Prediction: Texas 38, Oklahoma State 28.

- Eric Sorrentino

— There's a different feeling in the air around Oklahoma State these days. Quarterback Zac Robinson noticed it when he ran into star receiver Dez Bryant before weightlifting Monday morning.

With a meeting against No. 1 Texas looming Saturday, Bryant was in a different mood than most weeks.

"I'm never really that fired up for practice, but I can't wait to go practice today," Bryant told Robinson.

It's understandable that Bryant, the nation's second-leading receiver, would be a little extra juiced.

The No. 7 Cowboys have never been so highly ranked when facing the No. 1 team in the country, and this week's game rates among the biggest in school history - up there with the 1984 season finale that pitted third-ranked OSU against No. 2 Oklahoma, with the national title still in the picture.

"You feel good when you're winning, and that's a good thing. That's what you want your program to get to and aspire to play games like this," offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer said. "Obviously, we have our hands full with who we've got and where we have them is a factor, too."

Oklahoma State, off to its best start since 1945, opened sixth in the BCS standings and a win at Texas' expanded, 98,000-plus capacity Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium could even make enough of a case for the school's first appearance at the top of the AP poll.

"I'd be happy to be No. 1. Who wouldn't? But it would say that we're a good football team and that we continue to work at it, and hopefully we'll show that we're deserving of the No. 1 ranking," safety Quinton Moore said.

The Cowboys are just over a week removed from a 28-23 upset of then-No. 3 Missouri, which itself was one of the program's most impressive wins. There was no letdown Saturday in a 34-6 victory over Baylor, so the next task was to prevent too dramatic of an emotional swing in the other direction.

Receivers coach Trooper Taylor said he didn't think his players bought into the frenzy surrounding the game at Missouri, and instead just focused on what they could control. He wants to see the same approach this week.

"If they beat us because they're better than us, then we'll have to live with that," Taylor said. "But if we turn it over or we don't get lined up or we get stupid mistakes and penalties, then we can't live with ourselves as coaches or players. We don't want to do that."


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