Sharp leads kicking game for Cowboys

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Defensive Line:

The big difference here comes down to how much pressure these teams are getting when they are unable to get to the ball in the backfield. The Longhorns have held opponents to 7.3 yards per pass attempt — more than a yard more than the Cowboys have allowed — but have recorded 30 quarterback pressures in addition to their seven team sacks. Texas’ ability to provide pressure and rush the quarterback has led to six interceptions and the defensive line is wreaking havoc even when they’re not recording sacks.

Advantage: Texas

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Linebackers:

Jordan Hicks is having another strong season for the Longhorns, and Steve Edmond has responded well to an increase in playing time this year. As a whole, however, Texas has had some inconsistency at the position, and Hicks is likely to be sidelined in this week’s game with an ankle injury. The Cowboys’ linebackers have been solid, especially in run defense, as the team has limited opponents to just 3.0 yards per carry. OSU’s stability at the position should give the Cowboys the edge, especially if Texas is without its best linebacker.

Advantage: Oklahoma State

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Defensive Backs:

The Cowboys have been less forgiving than the Longhorns in the sense that they allow fewer yards per pass on average. Oklahoma State has limited opponents to just 6.1 yards per pass and 10.9 yards per completion, compared to totals of 7.3 yards and 13.8 yards for Texas, respectively. That being said, the Longhorns’ defensive backs have been considerably more explosive, recording six interceptions to the Cowboys’ two. The Longhorns’ big play ability in the secondary could prove to be important against a team that likes to throw the ball.

Advantage: Texas

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Special Teams:

Texas has excelled on returns through three games, averaging 19.0 yards on kickoffs and 22.0 yards returning punts. These totals are far superior to Oklahoma State’s numbers, as they have averaged 14.5 yards on kickoff and nine yards on punt returns. The Cowboys have been much more solid kicking the ball, however, as Quinn Sharp has missed just one field goal and is perfect so far on extra points. Texas has not been as consistent at splitting the uprights, as Nick Jordan is 3-of-7 on field goal attempts. If this game comes down to a field goal, the Cowboys would probably have the upper hand.

Advantage: Oklahoma State