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STILLWATER (AP) – The struggling Texas defense will be tested again when it faces Oklahoma State’s explosive offense on the road.
The 22nd-ranked Longhorns gave up 47 points in a win over Notre Dame and 50 in a loss to California. Oklahoma State is capable of doing just as much damage. The Cowboys average 39 points and feature one of the nation’s top pro quarterback prospects in Mason Rudolph.
The Texas loss at California left coach Charlie Strong promising to get more involved in the defense, but he’s resisted pressure to fire defensive coordinator Vance Bedford.
“We know we’ve had our issues on defense, and I have a lot of confidence in Vance Bedford, and I know Vance is going to do a good job,” Strong said. “We had a lot of time to sit by and just go look at the games that we’ve played this season and just how much better we could have been. And I said to him, it’s just three errors.”
The Longhorns will need to limit errors against the Cowboys. Rudolph entered the week ranked 11th nationally with 1,296 yards passing. The strong-armed junior passed for a school-record 540 yards against Pittsburgh, and he faces a secondary that has allowed nine passing touchdowns in the first three games. The Cowboys also are having some success running the ball with the tandem of Justice Hill and Rennie Childs doing most of the damage.
Texas (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) can get a leg up in the conference race with a win and put Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1) in a bind to start league play. If the Longhorns lose and can’t slow Oklahoma State’s offense, Bedford said he will accept responsibility.
“I look at myself first,” he said. “I will never put the blame on a player or system. Look at yourself first and see what you can do to help the players be successful.”
Here are some things to watch on Saturday:
PERKINS SUSPENDED: Senior offensive guard Kent Perkins has been suspended following his arrest last week for allegedly driving while intoxicated. The team’s most experienced offensive lineman was arrested last Friday. Perkins apologized to the team. “I’m really grateful that I didn’t cause injury to somebody else, you know,” he said. “I mean, it’s crazy what happened, and I’m just thankful to God that nothing physically happened to me or anybody else.”
JAMES WASHINGTON: Oklahoma State’s speedster caught nine passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns against Pittsburgh two weekends ago and six passes for 89 yards against Baylor last week. He’s a playmaker who can beat defenses down the field or turn a short pass into a long gain.
YOUNG GUN: Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele had his first rough game in his first road contest against Cal, getting briefly knocked out of the first half with a rib injury and throwing a key interception that set up a score in the loss. Now he faces a trip to Stillwater and a loud, hostile environment and no Perkins protecting him.
AUSSIE RULES FOOTBALL: Texas punter Michael Dickson’s fumbled snap and 10-yard punt set up Oklahoma State’s winning field goal season. The Australian has been nothing short of excellent in 2016. His 50.4-yard average is best in the Big 12.
DYNAMIC DUO: Texas running backs D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III are quite the one-two punch. Foreman has rushed for 288 yards and three touchdowns in just two games. Warren has rushed for 260 yards in three games.
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