Big 12 Championship Expert Pick and Prediction – December 2, 2023
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – If ever there was an argument against the two best records in a conference meeting for the league title game, this game might be the one. Oklahoma State just doesn’t seem to have either the talent or the personnel to hang with Texas.
The Cowboys are here because the rest of the Big 12 kept beating up on each other, allowing them to tie Oklahoma for second and win the tiebreaker.
But that’s far from ideal in a matchup with a Texas team that’s playing like a team on a mission. The Longhorns have never played in the College Football Playoff, and they seem to understand that they need to impress the committee to change that.
While the Cowboys have survived, the Longhorns have dominated. Texas comes off a pasting of Texas Tech, and the Longhorns have easily handled most of their schedule all season.
Oklahoma State’s playing for a smaller prize, but a prize nonetheless. The Cowboys must beat Texas to qualify for a New Year’s Six bowl, as their three losses mean they’re only going in as a conference champion. But given that nobody has run on Texas all season, this might be a difficult challenge for a team that relies heavily on running back Ollie Gordon.
(9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS)
(11-1 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
When: Saturday, December 2nd at Noon EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Public Bets: 50% on Oklahoma State
Public Money: 64% on Texas
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of November 23rd, 2023
Oklahoma State vs. Texas In-Season Trends
Historically, this matchup has meant two things: plenty of points and an Oklahoma State victory. The Cowboys have won six of the past eight meetings with Texas, and only once has Oklahoma State failed to score at least 30 points on the Longhorns.
However, this isn’t the typical Texas defense. Only twice has Steve Sarkisian’s stop unit allowed at least 30 points, and only once did they need overtime to get the result.
The second quarter tends to be when Texas puts some distance between itself and its competitors. Over the past five games, the Longhorns have outscored their opponents 55-10 in the game’s second 15 minutes of the game.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, have been outscored 36-16 in the second frame over the past three weeks. Last time out, BYU hung 17 on Oklahoma State in the second quarter, which nearly made it too late for an Oklahoma comeback. Betting the Longhorns at the end of the first quarter could be a fantastic live bet spot.
Can Ollie Gordon do what he’s done all season against the best run defense in the Big 12? Gordon has emerged as a true workhorse back, and the Cowboys use him as such.
Since Big 12 play began, Oklahoma State is 7-0 when Gordon gets at least 20 carries and 0-2 when he fails to hit that number. In the early going, Gordon wasn’t getting consistent touchdowns, but the Cowboys are 9-0 when Gordon scores and 0-3 when he does not reach the end zone.
The key for Texas will be keeping Oklahoma State out of manageable situations, and that starts with the Longhorn pass rush.
Oklahoma State quarterback Alan Bowman has thrown six interceptions over the past three weeks, and when he gets pressured, he struggles to make good decisions. Ethan Burke leads a team effort that has resulted in 31 sacks for the Longhorn defense, and he and the rest of the front four will need to make their presence known.
Inside the dome in Arlington, there won’t be anything to worry about from the weather.
Given the strength of the Texas run defense and pass rush, this doesn’t seem like a game Oklahoma State can win. As long as Quinn Ewers and the Longhorn offense do their job, it’s difficult to project much success for Gordon or the Oklahoma State pass attack.
There’s also the possibility that Texas needs to put up an impressive scoreline to consider. The Longhorns know that they’re currently on the outside looking in at the playoff. But they also know the committee doesn’t feel great about Florida State without Jordan Travis, and it’d be pretty hard to leave out Texas with a win over Alabama and an impressive performance in the Big 12 title game on its resume.
Texas is a program with outsized expectations (this is the same school that once decided the best way to break a three-way tie was to just ignore the school they’d lost to, which nobody outside of Austin bought), but this time, their reading of the situation is right on the money. And that spells big trouble for an overmatched Oklahoma State.