Texas Wins If
In last weekend’s win over Iowa State, the Longhorns finally proved that they could win a game while relying on their defense. The unit held the Cyclones to under 300 yards, and kept the Iowa State offense out of the end zone. The Longhorn defense will have a prime opportunity to keep the momentum going in this weekend’s matchup against Kansas State.
In a conference full of explosive offenses, the Wildcats are one of the few exceptions. Kansas State ranks last in the Big 12 in total offense, passing offense and is eighth in scoring offense. Junior quarterback Jesse Ertz has been one of the most inefficient quarterbacks in the country this year, completing less than fifty percent than his passes.
On the ground, the Wildcats have been very inconsistent over the past three weeks. In a win against Texas Tech, Kansas State racked up 231 rushing yards. However, in losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma, the Wildcats only averaged 115 rushing yards.
On paper, this looks like the ideal matchup for the Texas defense. The Longhorns have struggled mightily against the pass, but showed much improvement in last week’s win over Iowa State. A date with the struggling Ertz could give the pass defense even more confidence. The “strength” of the Wildcats offense is their running game, but the Longhorns have shown an ability to neutralize opponents on the ground.
Texas wins if they take advantage of a middling Kansas State offensive attack, and build off of their successes against Iowa State.
Texas Loses If
While the Wildcat offense has been lackluster, the team has remained competitive thanks to its defense. The Wildcats rank in the top three of the Big 12 in scoring defense, total defense, and forced turnovers.
But the most impressive aspect of the Wildcats has to be their rushing defense. They lead the Big 12 by a wide margin in the category, and are the only team to have limited opposing teams to less than 100 yards per game on the ground.
Senior defensive end Jordan Willis has been an absolute beast for the Wildcats, and leads the conference in tackles for loss. Willis is complemented by junior linebacker Elijah Lee, who has been playing like one of the top linebackers in the country through midseason.
The Texas offense is carried on the broad shoulders of 241 pound junior running back D’Onta Foreman. Foreman has been a stud throughout the season, and ranks second in the nation in rushing yards per game. He’s coming off of a solid outing against Iowa State, in which he ran for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Texas loses if Kansas State’s rushing defense proves too much for Foreman and company to handle. While Texas certainly has weapons in the passing game, the Longhorn machine runs much smoother with the help of an effective ground attack. If the Longhorns are unable to manufacture a rushing offense, they could be in for some trouble.