Analytics have Texas in store for another close game against Kansas

The Texas Longhorns continue their Big 12 gauntlet on the road against Kansas this week. If you’re expecting Texas to finally break through for a decisive win, this might not be the week.

One advanced stats comparison has Texas projected to score an average of 29.0 points to Kansas’ 28.21 average. The projections give the Longhorns a 52.29 percent chance to win, but for the team in Austin games rarely go as planned.

There’s a wide array of data points for Texas heading into Saturday’s game. The first half of the season, Steve Sarkisian’s team was one of the best performers nearly every week. Quinn Ewers’ unpredictability of late makes it difficult to know what to expect from Sarkisian’s squad.

We can glean a few things from the data, although it looks to favor the Jayhawks in more than a few areas.

Let’s examine a few of the key takeaways from the above projection.

Both have high offensive potential

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Texas is No. 9 in the nation in offensive success rate and No. 28 in offensive expected points added. Despite Saturday’s performance, Texas can be a dangerous offensive team. It was evident Texas had opportunities offensively against TCU, but Ewers could not cash in on Saturday. As for Kansas, the Jayhawk offense is No. 29 in offensive success rate and No. 6 in expected points added. Clearly, Lance Leipold’s team is doing a better job capitalizing on opportunities.

Texas is balanced, while Kansas dominates in passing game

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In offensive success rate, the Longhorns rank No. 3 in the passing game and No. 21 in the running game. The Jayhawks aren’t performing as consistently well in the running game. They rank No. 76 in the run and No. 9 when passing. With that said, Leipold’s team runs much more than it passes, which could explain the lack of efficient performance in the running game.

Texas defense bends, Kansas defense breaks

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Texas has a solid run defensive success rate, ranking at No. 19 in the nation. Though its pass defense has some slack, Kansas looks to have laid down against the run and the pass. The Jayhawks rank No. 113 in pass defense success rate and No. 109 against the run. The opportunities should be there for the Longhorns, who may simply take what the defense gives within fifteen yards in the passing game.

Kansas maximizes opportunities

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Kansas ranks No. 10 in expected points added margin compared to Texas’ No. 42 ranking. If there is an opportunity to be had, expect Kansas to seize it on Saturday.

Kansas field position

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The Jayhawks have a decided advantage in net field position. They rank No. 23 to the Longhorns No. 97 ranking. It’s unclear how much that will matter on Saturday, but it could be the difference if the Texas offense isn’t improved after TCU.

Key for Texas

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If the Longhorns can stifle the Jayhawk rushing attack and be more efficient offensively, they have a good chance to win the game. Devin Neal leads the Kansas rushing attack with 951 yards on 142 carries. His 6.7 yards per carry should give Texas pause this week. Another strong defensive performance could carry Texas to a win.

Key for Kansas

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The Jayhawks must stop Bijan Robinson and put pressure on the Longhorns passing game. TCU forced Texas away from the running game in last week’s matchup. Winning against the burnt orange rushing attack could add a psychological hurdle for Steve Sarkisian’s team.

Early expectation

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If Texas gets bullish with Bijan Robinson, there’s a good chance they beat Kansas on Saturday. Sarkisian and company must live and die getting Robinson the football. Perhaps the most crucial addition they can make offensively is to pass to the talented back more frequently. Texas might opt to spread Kansas out with empty to get easy open looks for Ewers.

If it comes down to coaching...

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Lance Leipold is perhaps the best head coach in college football, given how much he has accomplished at Kansas. Sarkisian’s play design and talent advantage must make up the difference for Texas.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire