AUSTIN (KXAN) — A win for No. 20 Texas against No. 11 Oklahoma State on Saturday will not just give the Longhorns a good feeling heading into their bye week, but it would also make them bowl-eligible, something the team failed to do last year.

It’s the second true road game of the season for the Longhorns and it’s eight weeks into the season. Texas lost its only true road game of the season 37-34 in overtime to Texas Tech in Lubbock on Sept. 24, but then blew out Oklahoma 49-0 at a neutral site in the Red River Showdown at Cotton Bowl Stadium.

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“To go on the road against a really good opponent in a great environment for college football, this game is impactful,” Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “We’ve had really good intent in practice this week and they were focused on the task at hand.”

A win also keeps the Longhorns in the hunt for a conference championship, something that feels attainable with this year’s team with the vastly-improved defense and offensive efficiency with Quinn Ewers at quarterback. ESPN’s College Football Power Index gives the Longhorns a 55.4% chance to win the Big 12 this year, the highest of any Big 12 team, and they have the No. 30 remaining schedule strength, easier than both TCU and Kansas State who are ahead of them in Big 12 play.

Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders, perhaps the best overall quarterback in the conference when he’s healthy, has been playing through a shoulder injury for the past two weeks. There have been rumors regarding his availability for the game, even though he didn’t practice at all before the game against TCU last week and still played in the game.

The rumors were enough to make sportsbooks adjust betting lines on the game, making Texas more of a favorite in Stillwater. Most sportsbooks opened with Texas as a 1-2.5 point favorite, and then stretched the spread to around 6-7 points Monday as worries about Sanders’ status popped up.

“Spencer is a great competitor, and they do a really nice job with him,” Sarkisian said. “They’re throwing it more and they’re a little more spread out, and when they’re spread out, it gives the quarterback more chances to run the ball. Not just on designed runs, but scrambles. What makes Spencer unique is the competitive nature he is.”

Texas has been hurt a bit by scrambling quarterbacks occasionally this season. UTSA’s Frank Harris, No. 4 in the country in total offense, gave the Longhorns fits for a while early in the season and Iowa State’s Hunter Dekkers scored a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Longhorns.

While Dekkers isn’t near the running quarterback Harris or Sanders are, Sarkisian said the defensive front got out of its rush lanes and that allowed Dekkers to score untouched. Obviously, that needs to be cleaned up in order to keep Sanders from breaking off huge runs when plays deteriorate.

“Being accountable to Sanders and figuring out who is responsible for him will be big,” Sarkisian said. “We got hurt on third down last week because we didn’t stay in our rush lanes against Dekkers.”

Another big boost for Texas is if defensive back Ryan Watts is available. He left last week’s game against Iowa State early with an injury, but Sarkisian said there wasn’t structural damage associated with the shoulder injury and left it open that he could possibly return.

The game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Central from Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater and it will air on ESPN.