Kansas State (2-1) at Texas (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119) -- Austin, Texas. Television: ABC. Home Record: KSU 2-1, UT 1-1. Away Record: KSU 0-0, UT 0-1. Neutral Record: KSU 0-0, UT 0-0. Conference Record: KSU 0-0, UT 0-0. Series Record: Kan State leads, 8-5.
GAME NOTES: The Kansas State Wildcats and Texas Longhorns are set to begin their respective Big 12 Conference schedules when they square off at Texas Memorial Stadium.
This marks the first road game of the year for Kansas State. The Wildcats were upset at home by North Dakota State in their season opener (24-21), but they have since rebounded with two straight wins. They followed up a 48-27 victory over Louisiana with a convincing, 37-7 triumph over Massachusetts this past Saturday.
Texas began the year ranked No. 15 in the nation but has since tumbled out of the rankings following back-to-back losses. The Longhorns are coming off Saturday's 44-23 home loss to Ole Miss, which came a week after they fell on the road to BYU, 40-21. If he can get his team back on track and earn a victory here, Mack Brown would tie Woody Hayes for 10th on the NCAA all-time wins list for a head coach.
K-State has won each of the last five meetings to take an 8-5 lead in the head-to-head series with the Longhorns.
The Wildcats turned to the ground game in their win over UMass, as they piled up 329 rushing yards for a team average of 7.2 yards per carry. With the running game working so well, they often found themselves in manageable down and distances and were able to convert 7-of-11 third downs. John Hubert headlined that effort with a game-high 118 yards on 18 carries, while Daniel Sams (77 yards) and Robert Rose (39 yds) both found the end zone.
It was no doubt an encouraging performance after the Wildcats totaled only 190 yards on the ground over their first two games. A solid ground game can help take some pressure off quarterback Jake Waters, who has completed 68.6 percent of his throws and is averaging 224.3 yards. However, through three games he has thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four).
K-State's defense gave up a first-quarter touchdown against UMass, and that was it for the Minutemen scoring. All told, the Wildcats forced two turnovers and five punts, and they held UMass to just 5.8 yards per pass attempt. On the ground, they yielded only 3.2 yards per rush. Senior linebacker Blake Slaughter led the way with 10 total tackles, while senior defensive back Kip Daily snatched a pair of interceptions to earn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. The first of those two interceptions -- and also the first of Daily's career -- came less than four minutes into the game and he returned it 38 yards for a score. His other pick came on a fourth-down attempt in K-State territory during the third quarter.
The Longhorns turned to Case McCoy against nationally-ranked Ole Miss, as starting quarterback David Ash sat out with a head injury. McCoy, who had previously started six games for UT, completed 24-of-36 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, and running back Jonathan Gray added 91 yards on the ground. The Longhorns managed to build a 23-17 halftime lead thanks to scores on five straight possessions, but the offense went silent after that while the Rebels began to seize the momentum. In seven possessions after halftime, the Texas offense produced four punts, a fumble and two turnovers on downs.
The team needs to find a complement for Gray (5.5 ypc) in the backfield, as Ash ranks second on the team with 125 rushing yards, despite missing last week's game. Joe Bergeron is averaging 5.5 yards on only 19 carries, and he notched 16 rushing TDs a year ago.
Defensively, UT allowed running back Jeff Scott to churn out a career-high 164 rushing yards, and he was one of three different Rebels to notch a rushing TD. Ole Miss was able to move the chains all game, racking up 28 first downs (16 rushing, 11 passing) and 449 yards of total offense. The Longhorns were simply unable to come up with stops when they needed to, as Ole Miss came away with touchdowns on all five of its trips inside the red zone.
Safeties Adrian Phillips and Josh Turner shared team-high honors with eight tackles apiece in the loss. However, their combined tackles total only goes to illustrate just how often the Rebels were getting into the second level of the Texas defense. On the season, junior linebacker Jordan Hicks leads the team in tackles with 34. Defensive end Cedric Reed is next in line with 27.
Obviously, this is a different caliber Texas team than fans have become accustomed to watching in Austin. The injury to Ash (questionable) is certainly a concern, but the Longhorns also must try and find a way to slow a K-State ground game that was clicking so well last weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 28, Texas 27
09/18 10:33:17 ET