Texas vs Kansas State Matchups

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Quarterback
Collin Klein was the Heisman favorite for much of the season before the Wildcats were upset by Baylor two weeks ago. The senior is still in the midst of a dynamic season, as he has thrown for 2,306 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for 787 yards and 20 scores. Texas has less certainty at the position, as Case McCoy will make his first start of the season for the Longhorns. The Texas offense was able to move the ball more effectively after McCoy replaced David Ash in the Longhorns’ loss to TCU on Thanksgiving, but the junior threw a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter that ended a potential comeback. Overall, McCoy has thrown for 408 yards and 4 touchdowns in limited playing time this season.

Advantage: Kansas State

Running backs
The Wildcats have benefitted greatly from the emergence of John Hubert in the backfield, as the junior has become a dependable every-down back who  complements the passing game well. Hubert has 826 yards on the ground on 158 carries, and his 12 rushing touchdowns are second on the team behind Klein. The Texas running back unit has consisted of a rotation of solid backs, but Johnathan Gray is becoming the feature back on early downs. The standout freshman leads the team with 654 yards rushing. Joe Bergeron is also enjoying a nice season, as he has gained 562 rushing yards and scored a team-leading 16 touchdowns. The Wildcats’ rushing attack could be primed for a big game against an inconsistent Texas run defense, but the Longhorn’s depth in the backfield gives them the edge at the running back position.

Advantage: Texas

Wide Receivers
The starting duo of Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley has been dynamic through 11 games for Texas and is a large part of why the Longhorns have been an improved passing team this year. Davis leads the team with 51 receptions, 891 yards and seven touchdowns, while Shipley has also been very productive in hauling in 46 passes for 581 yards and five scores. Kansas State has also had strong play from its receiving unit, with three wideouts notching at least 491 yards through the air. No one has caught more than four touchdowns for the Wildcats, and none of them have matched Davis’ totals in yards or receptions.

Advantage: Texas

Offensive Line
Neither team has many qualms with the play of their offense lines, as Texas and Kansas State have two of the better offenses in college football thanks to strong pass- and run-blocking. The Wildcats have been the more efficient team this season, as they have averaged 5.0 yards per rush and 13.3 yards per reception compared to the Longhorn’s totals of 4.7 per carry and 13.0 yards per catch. Collin Klein’s ability to register gaudy passing and rushing numbers has been due to the protection and time given to him by his offensive line. The Wildcats have allowed 12 sacks this year, two more than what Texas has given up, but overall their offensive line has been the superior unit.

Advantage: Kansas State

Defensive Line
Texas has done a good job of generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season, as it has recorded 24 sacks for 153 yards lost. Defensive end Alex Okafor has played well, but the line as a whole has not been perfect. The interior linemen have struggled to stuff the run at times, and this was the case in the Longhorns’ last game, when TCU earned 217 yards on the ground. Kansas State has been even more ferocious in bringing down opposing quarterbacks, as the Wildcats have registered 27 sacks for 174 yards lost. They have also been more consistent in stopping running backs at the line of scrimmage, as they have recorded 65 tackles for loss this season.

Advantage: Kansas State

Linebackers
The Wildcats have one of the better run defenses in the Big 12 and their linebackers’ ability to limit big gains on the ground is a large part of this. Teams are earning just 3.7 yards per carry against Kansas State and as a whole the Wildcats allow an average of just 121 rushing yards per game. This has not been the case for the Longhorns, as teams have averaged 4.9 yards per rush and 201.5 yards on the ground per game against the Texas defense. A major factor of the Longhorn’s ineffectiveness in stopping the run has been due to their linebackers’ injuries and inconsistency. Texas has struggled to tackle all season long and this has allowed players get past the second layer of the Longhorns’ defense more than a few of times.

Advantage: Kansas State

Defensive Backs
The Longhorns’ pass defense has improved as the season has progressed and it is coming off of a game where it allowed 82 yards through the air on 10 pass attempts. Texas is holding opponents to a respectable 216.2 passing yards per game, with 12 interceptions. Kansas State has intercepted more passes with 16, but overall the Wildcats’ secondary is the more vulnerable unit. Teams are averaging 250 yards through the air each game against Kansas State and the Wildcats have allowed opponents to convert 133 first downs on pass completions.

Advantage: Texas

Special Teams
Few teams in college football can match Kansas State’s dynamic return game. The Wildcats are averaging 29.5 yards per return on kickoffs and 22.9 yards per punt return and they have scored three touchdowns on returns. The Longhorns have been solid on returns, averaging 24.0 yards on kicks and 9.9 yards on punts, but they have only scored on touchdown on special teams. The Wildcats also have the stronger kicking unit, as kicker Anthony Cantele has converted on 18-of-21 field goal attempts and has made all 56 of his extra point tries. Texas has improved its place-kicking since reinserting freshman Nick Jordan into the lineup, but overall the Longhorns are just 9-of-15 on field goals and have missed three extra point attempts.
Advantage: Kansas State