Texas wins if
It’s been nearly a month since the Longhorns last played at home, but they’ll need to recapture the offensive firepower they found in a 56-0 win against San Jose State on Sept. 9 when they return to the 40 Acres to host Kansas State this weekend.
Kansas State features one of the premier defenses in the Big 12. The Wildcats lead the conference in both yards allowed (308.5 per game) and points allowed (15 per game).
Those numbers may be a bit inflated due to Kansas State’s relatively easy schedule. However, it’s no small feat that the team has held each opponent to 20 points or less.
The Longhorns win this game if they can dismantle the Wildcat defense. Texas’ offense has yet to find an identity this season, struggling to find success at throwing or running the ball.
Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele injured his ankle against Iowa State last Thursday. He’s practiced in a walking boot this week, but head coach Tom Herman hasn’t shut the door on potentially returning freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger to the starting lineup.
Running backs junior Chris Warren III and sophomore Kyle Porter have continued to split carries, despite Warren gaining 115 more yards and two more touchdowns than Porter on four less attempts this season.
Herman has refused to ride the hot hand thus far but will need to do so more often to score against Kansas State.
Texas loses if
The Wildcats have fared well running the ball this season, averaging 229 rushing yards per game — third in the Big 12.
Senior dual-threat quarterback Jesse Ertz leads the team on the ground with 56 carries for 332 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore running back Alex Barnes has also chipped in 242 yards on two touchdowns on 46 attempts.
Texas loses this game if they are unable to contain the Kansas State backfield. But fortunately for the Longhorn defense, it has been successful when facing dynamic running backs such as Maryland’s Ty Johnson and USC’s Ronald Jones II and will look to bring this momentum into Saturday’s contest.
The Texas defense has allowed just 96.5 rushing yards per game — 17th in the nation. Still, the Longhorns haven’t faced many dual-threat quarterbacks of Ertz’s caliber this season. Maryland sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome probably comes closest and ran for 64 yards and a score against Texas in the season opener.
It’ll be a field day for Ertz if Texas can’t find a way to eliminate his effectiveness both in and out of the pocket this Saturday.