The race for the Big 12 Championship Game is starting to become more clear by the week, and it's evolving into an image that doesn't look anything like most imagined it would. That's a good thing for programs like No. 6 Oklahoma State, which is almost always the dark horse but never really the favorite. The Cowboys are 4-0, field one of the best defenses in the country and could only get better on offense. This is a pivotal stretch of the schedule for Mike Gundy's team. Knocking off Iowa State was huge, but the upcoming three games -- Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma -- will tell us a lot.
The Longhorns, meanwhile, are looking for a quality win. They need one, as their backs are against the wall a bit at 3-2. There aren't going to be many opportunities for error down the stretch with such a loaded back-end schedule. If Texas is going to turn its season around, it needs to start in Stillwater. With a top-10 team hosting a desperate team, there's a lot more on the line than you'd figure at first glance.
What can you expect from Texas-Oklahoma State on Saturday? Here are the storylines to follow, as well as our picks for the game, which is already being billed as one of the Big 12's biggest this season. Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
Texas: This sure feels like a must-win for the Longhorns. Consider that three of Texas' next five games, including this one, are against teams currently above them in the Big 12 standings. Keep in mind, too, that Oklahoma holds a tiebreaker win over the Horns. How can Texas pull the upset? It's going to need explosive plays in the passing game. Oklahoma State does a great job in pass coverage; its 5.7 yards per attempt allowed and 108.97 passer rating are best in the Big 12. The Longhorns have some dudes at wideout with Joshua Moore and Brennan Eagles, who need to win one-on-one matchups down the field.
Oklahoma State: The Pokes' defense has deservedly been getting a lion's share of the attention. The other interesting storyline, though, is the return of quarterback Spencer Sanders. He was OK against Iowa State -- Sanders went 20-of-29 for 235 yards, a touchdown and two picks -- but his legs really are a difference-maker. He was able to keep so many drives alive because of his scrambling ability when plays broke down. Texas' defense has had problems getting off the field on third downs, so this is the key situational area for Sanders.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 31 | Time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium -- Stillwater, Oklahoma
TV: FOX | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
This is a big game for both teams. Texas needs to turn a corner and Oklahoma State could pad its lead in the conference race. The Pokes' defense is going to be key, again, particularly in their downfield coverage against Texas' wide receivers. If Oklahoma State wins that battle, that gives them a big leg up. I'll never count out Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger from making plays when he needs to, but Oklahoma State has been the more well-rounded team. Pick: Oklahoma State -3.5
What picks can you make with confidence this week, and which Big 12 underdog will pull off a shocking upset? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams will win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned nearly $4,000 in profit over the past four-plus seasons.