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Texas Must Cauterize Own Faults Before Taking On Oklahoma State

Texas must fix its internal issues should they hope to take down Oklahoma State

There's no time to mourn in football, especially if you're Texas. 

The No. 25 Longhorns (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) blew a 21-point lead last Saturday in the Cotton Bowl against now No. 4 Oklahoma. Yes, Caleb Williams was not the quarterback they planned for, but it's not an excuse. 

No. 12 Oklahoma State is coming ready and rested to Austin. Do you think they care about Texas losing to the team they haven't beaten in the Bedlam Series since 2014? 

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian is glad his team won't have a week to recover. After games like Saturday, picking one's self up to "ride again" shows what a team can be made of in times of adversity. 

"This is the perfect scenario for us," Sarkisian said Thursday. "We got a quality opponent coming to town. Undefeated team, top-12 team in the country. 

"It allows us to get right back to work and do what we do." 

Maybe it is a perfect outcome for Texas moving forward. According to the current Big 12 standings, this matchup could dictate second place in the conference for the remainder of the season. 

Texas wants a second chance at Oklahoma, this time preparing for both quarterbacks and looking to show the second half was a fluke. Before any of that, they must fix the internal problems that derailed a win in the DFW area, to begin with. 

It starts with the offensive line. Losing senior guard Denzel Okafor against TCU forced offensive coordinator Kyle Flood to try a new formation, this time with right tackle Derek Kerstetter moving inside to guard and starting redshirt freshman Andrej Karic on the edge. 

It worked enough for quarterback Casey Thompson to throw for four touchdowns in the first half. Running back Bijan Robinson tallied over 100 yards and a score to put the Horns up big. 

Then, it all collapsed. Texas was outscored (35-10) and outgained (370-171) by Williams and the Sooners' offense. To make matters worse, Oklahoma scored on six drives in the second half. Texas scored twice thanks to a late 31-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to wide receiver Xavier Worthy. 

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Sarkisian plans to move Kerstetter back to right tackle and Junior Angilau back to his natural left guard spot. Sixth-year senior Tope Imade is expected to take over at right guard come Saturday against the Pokes' defensive front. 

"He’s kind earned his time," Sarkisian said of Imade. "He’s put in a lot of time and worked at it. He’s a big, physical player. Excited to watch him and what he can do.”

Just because veteranship is on the line doesn't make the Cowboys won't run a similar plan in stopping Texas like Oklahoma. For the entire second half, Robinson was stabilized. 

Texas couldn't hold a block to push the Heisman-caliber runner into positive gains, thus forcing Thompson to throw. Ultimately, it worked enough to seal the comeback. 

The Cowboys (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) rank inside the top 25 in total defense (305.2 yards per game), rushing defense (91.0 yards per game), and scoring defense (18.6 points per game). It's the run defense that shines the brightest, however, in the national spotlight, ranking just outside the top 10 with the likes of Iowa State, Kansas State, and Georgia.  

Saturday is make-or-break time for Texas. No, the season won't be over, but bearing a collapse from both Oklahoma State and Baylor, plus any more losses on the schedule, Texas' hopes for a rematch in December against the Sooner is likely over. 

Losing is never fun in the game of football. Self-inflicted wounds, however, are the ones that linger well past the final whistle for any coach. 

"The sign of a true champion, the sign of a true competitor is how you respond to adversity," Sarkisian said. "Our team has responded really well. We've had a quality week of work and we knew we needed it."

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