Staff writers from The Oklahoman are joined by other OSU-Texas series experts in tackling a wild series. The Longhorns are 11-0 against the Cowboys under Mack Brown, but there have been many close calls and several extraordinary escape jobs by Texas.
The discussion participants: Berry Tramel, Jenni Carlson, Brandon Chatmon and John Helsley from The Oklahoman; Dave Hunziker, OSU play-by-play voice; Suzanne Halliburton, Texas beat writer for the Austin American-Statesman; Cedric Golden, columnist for the Statesman; and Sam Mayes, former Cowboy lineman and current talk radio personality.
What is the defining moment for you in the OSU-Texas series?
Hunziker: The 2007 disappointment. The Cowboys led 35-14 after three, but lost 38-35. Twelve of the Cowboys 13 offensive possessions ended in Longhorn territory, but OSU failed to score on seven of those possessions. The Cowboys may have been the better team that year.
Carlson: The 5-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to Bo Scaife might not be on many highlight reels, but it came only seconds before halftime in 2004, helping Texas gain some momentum and ultimately turn a 35-7 deficit into a 56-35 victory.
Tramel: 2004: Texas' 80-yard drive in nine plays in the final 1:18 of the first half. OSU had just taken a 35-7 lead, but Texas quickly responded and never even faced third down. Emboldended at halftime, the 'Horns dominated the second half and won 56-35.
Helsley: Watching an OSU offense that rolled to a big first-half lead in 2004 stumble around in the early series of the third quarter. You could sense the Cowboys shrinking, while the Longhorns seized momentum and rode it to a comeback that's still hard to comprehend.
Halliburton: I remember that 80-yard Vince Young touchdown, where he pump faked (Donovan Woods). I also remember the game two years ago, when all the weirdness happened early, and then watching Ryan Bailey calmly kick the 39-yard field goal.
Golden: The 2005 game when the eventual national champions won 47-28 after trailing 28-12 at the half in Stillwater. Vince Young's pump fake of Donovan Woods en route to an 80-yard touchdown run stands out as one of the most underrated plays in Longhorn team history.
Is there a single reason to explain the Longhorns' mastery?
Hunziker: Yes, they've had much better players. Texas has exponentially more NFL players than OSU does in the past 10 years. There were some seasons, 2005 comes immediately to mind, when based on talent, the game should not have been close.
Tramel: When you score a bunch on Texas, you have to keep scoring. OSU went scoreless in the second half in both 2004 and 2005, plus was scoreless in the fourth quarter in 2007.
Helsley: Beyond the fact that they have more great players, a lack of depth has played a factor in the Cowboys wearing down late in some games, making it hard to fend off the charging Horns.
Golden: Halftime adjustments. Several times the Longhorns have trailed at the half and for some reason, they came out a different team in the third quarter each time.
Chatmon: The mental edge gained by finding a way to pull out so many crazy games. It started in 2004 and has continued ever since. And let's be honest, Texas tends to be the deeper team.
Mayes: In this case "mastery" is a combination of talent and good fortune. And that combination was too much for Oklahoma State to overcome.
Which loss do you consider the worst?
Hunziker: 2007 was the worst, when OSU blew a 35-14 end of third quarter lead in Stillwater. The Cowboys dominated, had almost 600 yards of offense, and missed a late field goal that would have given them the lead back.
Carlson: The 36-10 loss in 2006. Other games were heartbreaking and gut-wrenching for the Cowboys, but at least they were competitive in them. That drubbing in Austin was one year where that wasn't the case.
Helsley: I still go back to 2004. A win there, a win that should have been, might have altered the trend of terror for the Cowboys.
Halliburton: You'd have to think the '07 game was the worst, since it was at home and OSU had such a big lead going into the fourth quarter. That took talent to blow that one.
Golden: It would have to be that night in 2004 when the Longhorns erased a 35-7 deficit and rallied for a 56-35 win. I had never heard Royal-Memorial Stadium that loud.
Mayes: Definitely 2004. Honestly, that was the worst loss I had experienced as an Oklahoma State Cowboy.
Is there any carryover effect from all those losses to Saturday's game?
Tramel: Yes. Texas' confidence soars, OSU doubt lingers.
Helsley: No thanks to the media, the reminders don't go away for the Cowboys. The questions come and the players are prepared for them. Because of that, it's always in the back of their minds.
Halliburton: I'd say no because last year's game actually was how it was supposed to be between two good teams. Sometimes I think it's easier to maintain a streak than it is to break one. It plays with your head.
Golden: Not at all. The score will be 0-0 at the start and this is the best team Mike Gundy has fielded at OSU. The Pokes have a good chance to spring the upset.
Chatmon: There could be a "here we go again" mentality if a similar situation presents itself. But I tend to believe the fact OSU has played Texas so well gives them confidence they can win this game.
Mayes: I really believe that the past only goes as far as your oldest players. So whatever the seniors on OSU team remember is what they will carry into this game.
What is the key for OSU in this game?
Hunziker: Two items. The ability to keep the Longhorn defense guessing, especially on first down. The excellent mix of run and pass on first down has been a key to OSU's recent offensive success. Defensively, the ability to get pressure on Colt McCoy with the least amount of pass rushers.
Carlson: What it always is -- offensive line play. If the big fellows up front can give the running game room and Zac Robinson time, the Cowboys can turn "almost" into "finally."
Tramel: Winning the special teams, which is a tall task. Texas is great on special teams.
Helsley: First down on offense. Without Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter, the Cowboys have been more of a grinding team, with fewer big plays running or passing. Effective, yes, but it requires staying out of second-and-long.
Golden: Ball control. Assuming Kendall Hunter is back, the combo of Hunter and Keith Toston can keep the Texas offense off the field if they run effectively. Time of possession is not to be overlooked Saturday.
Chatmon: Running the ball. If OSU can establish the run and keep Colt McCoy off the field, their chances to win increase significantly. Keith Toston and Beau Johnson need to continue their strong play.
What makes you think this could be the year the Cowboys break through against the Horns?
Hunziker: This Oklahoma State team has tremendous chemistry which is accentuated by a strong senior class. Defensively, the Cowboys continue to make big strides. They are catching Texas on the back end of a brutal stretch of games.
Carlson: They were close last year in Austin, only losing 28-24. They are playing just about as well offensively now as they were a year ago, but their defense is better. That could be enough to make up the difference.
Tramel: OSU's defense is better and its offense still is playing at a high level.
Helsley: Halloween. Night game. Record crowd. The stars are aligned, right?
Halliburton: Because at some point, the Cowboys have to win. Plus, Zac Robinson is a senior quarterback playing at home.
Golden: The law of averages. Much better teams than this current Texas team have fallen behind the Cowboys in Stillwater. Sooner or later, the Longhorns are going to get bitten. Could be this year.
Chatmon: It's gotta happen sometime right? The Pokes have dealt with so much adversity and have developed a mental toughness that will pay off against Texas. Their senior leadership and team chemistry could be the difference this year.
Mayes: The years that I played Texas, I just remember draft pick after draft pick on their roster. This year although talented as usual they just don't seem invincible. All in all, this year the Cowboys seem to match up better against the Horns.