The intrigue for a great matchup to open the Big 12 schedule is being overshadowed by a very tumultuous time for the conference.
With the Big 12’s future unknown, seventh-ranked Oklahoma State goes for its fourth straight win over No. 8 Texas A&M on Saturday in the first game between top-10 teams at Kyle Field since 1975.
Most sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product opened Texas A&M as a four-point home favorite, with the total set at a healthy 69 points.
These teams played a memorable conference opener last year as the Cowboys used a last-minute interception – their fourth of the game – to pave the way for Dan Bailey’s 40-yard field goal as time expired in a 38-35 home victory over the Aggies.
Texas A&M heads into this matchup having already secured an invitation to join the SEC in July. That move, however, is being blocked by the threat of litigation from Baylor.
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, could head to the Pac-12 along with Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. The school’s regents are expected to soon meet to determine a course of action. Oklahoma and Texas already have gotten approval from their boards to leave the Big 12, and the Big East is in talks with the conference over a possible merger.
“I trust the people making decisions are doing it for the right reasons,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “At some point, maybe all this will clear up and we can talk about football and we can let this go. But there’s a lot happening.”
While that drama plays out, either the Cowboys (3-0) or the Aggies (2-0) will take a step toward winning perhaps the last title in Big 12 history.
Oklahoma State’s offense is among the top three nationally with 52.3 points, 601.0 yards and 408.0 passing yards per game despite a lengthy weather delay that forced it to play into Sunday morning at Tulsa.
Brandon Weeden threw for 369 yards – his third straight game with 350 or more – and three touchdowns in a 59-33 win. Joseph Randle ran for more than 120 yards for the third time in as many games and rushed for three TDs, giving him a Big 12-leading seven.
After being sacked three times through three games, Weeden might face a little more pressure this week as the Aggies have collected 11 this season.
“A lot of people would argue who they’re playing or whatever, but I’m not sure you can take away 11 sacks,” Gundy said. “Their scheme is good. They have good blitz packages and that’s allowed them to have success on that side of the ball.”
Texas A&M’s offensive line, meanwhile, has yet to give up a sack while helping its team outscore opponents 83-21.
Ryan Tannehill threw for more than 300 yards for the second time in his career during last Saturday’s 37-7 rout of visiting Idaho. Cyrus Gray rushed for two touchdowns while topping 100 yards for the ninth straight game, one shy of tying Darren Lewis’ school record set in 1988.
The Aggies outgained Oklahoma State 535-351 in last season’s matchup but committed five turnovers. The loss was their third straight in the series and second in a row by less than a touchdown. Since 1997, the teams have played seven games that have been decided by five points or fewer.
“They’ve done a great job. We’ve come up short,” Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said. “I don’t think any of it carries from one year to the next. Every year is independent of the previous one and every game is independent of the previous one. We want to be 1-0 at the end of Saturday afternoon.”
Oklahoma State is expected to be without co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer, who is away indefinitely following the death of his wife Sunday.
In his absence, the Cowboys will try to start 4-0 for the third time in four years. Texas A&M is seeking its third straight 3-0 start.