The Texas Longhorns secondary will have its hands full on Saturday, to say the least.
With an FBS-leading Oklahoma State offense (610.7 YPG) coming to Austin, much of the defensive focus will be centered around the Pokes dynamic quarterback-receiver duo of Mason Rudolph and James Washington, and rightfully so. Rudolph leads the nation in passing yards per game (394.7), while his star wide out ranks No. 2 nationally with 882 receiving yards.
But as ESPN’s Jake Trotter noted during a Saturday morning segment on SportsCenter, it’s the added dimension that is Marcell Ateman who’s helped lift this Oklahoma State offense to mind-boggling heights.
“Everybody knew about James Washington, the All-American, coming into the season, but the emergence and Marcell Ateman on the other side has really cranked this Oklahoma State passing offense up to another level,” Trotter said.
With opposing defenses now tasked with slowing not just Washington, but Ateman, as well, the success in doing so has been minimal.
After combining for 354 yards and 2 touchdowns in Oklahoma State’s record-setting display in a 59-16 win over Baylor, in which the Pokes poured on 747 yards of total offense, Washington and Ateman became the first duo in Big 12 history to each record four-straight 100-yard games. They’re also the first to accomplish that feat among the entire FBS ranks since 1996.
As far as Atman’s personal prowess is concerned, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior ranks second on the team with 29 receptions for 568 yards. He’s on pace to concluded the regular season with career-high efforts of 58 receptions for 1,136 yards, which would be nearly 400 more yards than his 2016 production (766).
Ateman and the Cowboys will be tested today, though.
On the road in Austin, The Cowboys potent passing attack will square off with a Texas defense that ranks No. 19 in efficiency and a secondary headlined by rising stars in Holton Hill and DeShon Elliott.
Which of these two strengths gets the upper hand inside Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium should have a substantial say in which shade of orange finds itself going back to the drawing board by Sunday morning.
Oklahoma State and Texas will kick off at 11:00 a.m. CT on ABC.