Scenarios: vs. Kansas

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Texas wins if

Nearly a year has passed and not much has changed for Texas and Kansas. 

The Longhorns finished fifth in total offense and seventh in total defense in the Big 12 at the end of the 2016 season. The Jayhawks finished ninth and tenth, respectively. Texas was 5–5 heading into its game against Kansas, with three conference wins. The Jayhawks had just one win — Rhode Island.

On paper, the Longhorns should have trounced Kansas. Yet, the Jayhawks won in overtime, 24-21.

This season, the Longhorns have dropped to sixth in total offense but have risen to third in total defense in the Big 12. Kansas remains at ninth and tenth, respectively. Texas once again has three conference wins. The Jayhawks have one win all season. 

On paper, the Longhorns should trounce Kansas. The similarities are foreboding.

But this team is different. This team shut down some of the top offenses in the nation. This team pushed multiple ranked opponents into overtime. 

This team is better. It has outscored opponents by an average of 7.2 points per game, up from 0.4 points last year. That’s after coming off a 21-point loss to No. 8 TCU, Texas’ largest defeat this season.

The Jayhawks are still a beatable team. The Longhorns win this game if they refuse to let the past haunt them.

Texas loses if

On the opening play of Texas’ final drive in overtime last year against Kansas, former Longhorn running back D’Onta Foreman carried the ball for no gain. On second down, then-freshman quarterback Shane Buechele was intercepted by then-freshman defensive back Mike Lee for the third time of the day. 

Texas’ offense hasn’t improved much since then. Against the Horned Frogs last week, Texas had its worst offensive output of the season, mustering just seven points.

Buechele completed 21 of 44 passes for 254 yards and a score, but also lost 23 yards on the ground. The team combined for nine rushing yards total, another season-low. 

The Longhorns are favored to win this week by 33.5 points. But to cover that spread, they actually need to score at least 34 points, something the team has only done four times this year.

Offensive coordinator Tim Beck might as well ignore the run game and call a passing play every time this week. The Jayhawks have allowed the 13th-most passing yards in the nation this year, and nothing good tends to come from Texas’ backfield.

Still, while Kansas may be the second-worst defense in the conference, it’s better than being the worst defense in the conference. It’s only slightly worse than being the third-lowest scoring offense in the conference, where the Longhorns reside.

Texas loses this game if it simply can’t score more points.