Texas star Colt McCoy is the reigning Big 12 offensive player of the week and the nation’s second-most accurate passer. Oklahoma State knows all too well about how difficult it is to defend against the Heisman Trophy candidate.
The lone remaining teams with perfect Big 12 records meet with first place in the South Division on the line when McCoy and the third-ranked Longhorns try to extend their 11-game winning streak over the 13th-ranked Cowboys on Saturday night in Stillwater.
Texas (7-0, 4-0) hasn’t lost to Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-0) since a 42-16 defeat Oct. 4, 1997, and leads the all-time series 21-2. The 1997 game was the last time the Longhorns entered this matchup as an unranked team while the Cowboys have been ranked just three times during the 11-game slide.
The Cowboys believe this is their best chance to end that run of futility, having won five straight since a 45-35 loss to Houston on Sept. 12.
“I haven’t beat them since I’ve been here, same for the guys in there,” senior quarterback Zac Robinson said. “It’s a little extra motivation obviously with what’s on the line and both teams playing well right now. Having them at our place will be a lot of fun.”
Oklahoma State will have to do a better job of slowing down McCoy, whose 71.7 completion percentage is second in the country to Arizona’s Nick Foles (72.3). McCoy has been even better against the Cowboys, completing 79.4 percent for 1,019 yards to go 3-0.
In his lone visit to Boone-Pickens Stadium on Nov. 3, 2007, McCoy was 20 of 28 for 282 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He helped engineer a comeback from a 21-point deficit entering the fourth quarter in a 38-35 victory.
“You can’t really see how good they really are on film because they are going to play like a different team when we are there,” McCoy said about the Cowboys’ defense. “Their intensity is going to rise. We are playing at their place at night, and it’s a conference game, so you can’t really see that side of it when you watch film.”
McCoy passed for 391 yards - his highest total in a Big 12 game - and two touchdowns while the Longhorns used two big defensive stands in the fourth quarter for a 28-24 win over the Cowboys last season in Austin.
Last week, McCoy threw for 269 yards and three scores while completing 26 of 31 passes in a 41-7 rout at Missouri, earning conference offensive player of the week honors and extending his school-record streak of consecutive games with a TD pass to 24.
The Longhorns also are trying to move up in the BCS standings as they currently trail Florida and Alabama.
“You can feel pressure or you can go in and say, ‘We are Texas,’” coach Mack Brown said. “We’ve earned the right to be good here so let’s go ahead and act like you’re good and walk into the stadium like you’re going to win the game.”
Although Texas lost three defensive starters in the first three rounds of the NFL draft in April, its current defense is ranked second in the nation. Three of the last four Texas opponents have managed fewer than 175 yards of offense, and the last five have averaged 0.8 yards per carry.
“They’re very athletic. They can run and they are physical,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said of the Longhorns’ defense. “They’ve been that way for a number of years and I think they’re very well-coached.
Robinson has thrown for 629 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in two career matchups with the Longhorns. He was sacked five times in last season’s loss.
The quarterback is 218 yards away from breaking Gundy’s school record for career passing yards (7,997). Robinson was 23 of 27 for 250 yards and a season-high three touchdowns in last Saturday’s 34-7 win at Baylor.
“He’s playing with more confidence. He’s managed the game very well,” Gundy said. “In my opinion, being a good quarterback is being able to manage the game in understanding what your strengths are and where their weaknesses are and try to attack those areas using what your strengths are as an offense. I think he’s done a pretty good job of that over the last few weeks.”
Cowboys running back Kendall Hunter, an all-Big 12 selection as the league’s leading rusher a season ago, has missed the last five games with a sprained ankle and is expected to have a limited role if he plays Saturday. Hunter ran for 161 yards on 18 carries at Texas last year.
Keith Toston has replaced Hunter the last five games, averaging 97.0 yards on the ground.
Oklahoma State learned Tuesday that the NCAA has upheld the suspension of All-American wide receiver Dez Bryant for the remainder of the 2009 season. The university announced on Oct. 7 Bryant was declared ineligible for lying about his relationship with former NFL star Deion Sanders.
Bryant, a junior, will be eligible to play in 2010. He caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns last season while also scoring twice on punt returns. This season, Bryant led the team with 17 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns through OSU’s first three games.