Big games from Hodges Mitchell and Major Applewhite are difficult enough for Texas opponents to handle. When the Texas defense also plays well, it can make for a long afternoon.
Oklahoma State found that out Saturday. Mitchell ran for 149 yards and scored three times, including an 80-yard run on the game's first play, Applewhite was his usual solid self and the defense came up with big plays in a 34-21 victory.
No. 11 Texas (8-2, 5-1 Big 12) limited Oklahoma State to 84 yards and just 14 points when the outcome was in question. It also produced a big touchdown, Greg Brown's 31-yard interception return early in the third quarter.
"In last two weeks now, we've scored on special teams and we've scored on defense, and that's when you start being a great football team," coach Mack Brown said. "Hopefully we're seeing signs of that."
Oklahoma State's offensive line had a tough time handling Texas' 300-pound tackles, Casey Hampton and Shaun Rogers. They spent the day stuffing the run and flushing out the quarterback Tony Lindsay was sacked six times, backup B.J. Tiger once.
Texas scored 21 points in an eight-minute span from late in the second quarter to early in the third, building a 28-7 lead. One touchdown was set up by a fumble recovery, the other came on Brown's big play.
"That's been one of our problems this year untimely turnovers," Oklahoma State coach Bob Simmons said. "That's been our nemesis."
Oklahoma State (3-5, 1-4) lost for the fifth time in six games and will need to win its final three games to have any shot at a bowl game.
Applewhite complemented Mitchell by throwing going 23-of-44 for 242 yards. He failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in his two years as the starter (19 games), but it didn't matter.
Oklahoma State's bigges play was a 50-yard touchdown pass from Lindsay to Terance Richardson that made it 28-14 midway through the third quarter.
The Texas defense responded on the Cowboys' next series. On second-and-2 at the Texas 32, Lindsay lost five yards on a sack and had to leave the game. Tiger was sacked for a 13-yard loss on the next play and the Cowboys didn't threaten again until scoring a meaningless touchdown in the final minute.
"The win last week was so key because we didn't play very well on defense," Brown said. "I thought we played much better on defense today, and offensively we've been scoring a whole lot of points."
Mitchell stunned the Cowboys on the first play, going up the middle on a draw and outrunning two defenders for a touchdown.
"I thought that was a message to them that we're not going to throw it every play," Brown said.
Oklahoma State, which had given up 65 points in the previous seven quarters, regrouped and limited the Longhorns to 59 yards on their next six possessions.
The Cowboys tied the score at 7-7 on an 8-yard keeper by Lindsay. The 76-yard drive included three pass interference penalties and a 30-yard completion to tight end Marcellus Rivers.
The Longhorns only had to go 44 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, thanks to a fumbled snap by Lindsay. Applewhite hit tight end Bo Scaife for a 20-yard gain on first down, and two plays later Mitchell scored from 17 yards to make it 14-7 at halftime.
Brown picked off Lindsay's deflected pass in the right flat and returned it 31 yards for a 21-7 lead one minute into the third quarter. Just over four minutes later, Mitchell capped a 65-yard drive with his third TD, a 12-yard run that ended any suspense about the outcome.
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