The Texas Longhorns (5-3) face the Kansas State Wildcats (6-2) on Saturday. The game will likely determine who has the inside track to face TCU in the Big 12 championship.
Last week Kansas State dismantled the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 48-0. Although Oklahoma State has the tie breaker over Texas, a loss like that could be the nail in the coffin for the Cowboys.
Kansas State’s last performance seems like an anomaly because of how they won the game. The Wildcats scored 48 points to raise their season average to 31.0 points per game. Backup quarterback Will Howard played above his weight class, completing 21 of 37 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns.
Texas fans remember Will Howard, who quarterbacked the Wildcats in their last two meetings with the Longhorns. Howard’s performances left much to be desired.
Kansas State’s defensive performance was not fool’s gold. The Wildcats are among the best defensive teams in the country.
Let’s break down how the game will unfold.
Matchup to exploit
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Texas athletes vs Kansas State secondary, linebackers
This prediction is admittedly broad, but the Longhorns don’t only need to put Bijan Robinson in matchup advantages. Texas can utilize the speed of Xavier Worthy, Jordan Whittington, Keilan Robinson and Brenen Thompson to put a strain on the Kansas State defense.
Weakness to protect
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins
The Longhorns will have either an ailing Anthony Cook or a work-in-progress with Michael Taaffe on Saturday. Ideally, you don’t want Cook to have to tackle a whole lot with a broken arm. Conversely, you might not want to rely on Taaffe often in coverage.
Matchup to watch
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Kansas State offensive line vs Texas defensive line
Texas defensive tackles are the strength of the defense. Kansas State is highly skilled and experienced along the offensive line. If Texas edges decide not to keep contain, the Longhorns might be better served to play more of their defensive tackles in the game.
Texas wins if...
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Texas wins if Quinn Ewers has a good game. Longhorns wide receivers should be open on Saturday. The only question is, will Ewers be on target and trust his offensive line? The Ohio State transfer quarterback seemed to rush shorter throws the last time he took the field. If he makes corrections, Texas wins the game.
Kansas State wins if...
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Kansas State wins if Quinn Ewers has a bad game. In my estimation, the game is about whether or not Texas plays well. We have a good idea of both teams’ ceiling and floor, but the Longhorns are the more volatile of the two competitors. If Ewers brings his A-game, there may be nothing the Wildcats can do to win the game.
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This will probably be a frustrating game for Longhorns fans. Kansas State is going to make plays. Albeit, it’s hard to believe they can follow their 48-0 win with another great performance. In addition, Texas is 1-3 in one-score games this season after going 2-5 in such games last season. It could mean that the Longhorns are simply bad in one score games, but there’s some element of luck involved. Texas gets a little luck this week and Quinn Ewers has a strong performance.
Texas 28, Kansas State 23