Another weekend, another must-win game for head coach Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns. This week, the ‘Horns attempt to secure the first road victory of the season against the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan.
On to the predictions!
Wescott Eberts — editor
History doesn't provide much optimism for the Texas contingent as the 'Horns travel to Manhattan this weekend, but the improvement of the defense last week and an extremely poor Kansas State passing game do provide cause to believe in a rare road victory for head coach Charlie Strong.
Making opponents one dimensional on offense is a constant talking point for Strong and that shouldn't be difficult against the Wildcats.
On offense, the concern is that the Wildcats create turnovers with consistency and rank No. 20 nationally in rush defense S&P+. Piling up 274 rushing yards on more than five yards per carry, as the Longhorns did last season in Austin, won't be an easy task in the Flint Hills.
Still, I think that the quarterback play is the difference and Texas is able to come out with a close victory, as the S&P projections predict.
Texas 31, Kansas State 27
Cody Daniel — co-editor
It feels almost sacrilegious to say Texas — a 3-3 Texas, at that — will escape Manhattan with a victory on Saturday morning, but I think that will be the case. Kansas State’s strength is its defense and in particular, its run defense, which ranks No. 4 in the nation after allowing only 90.3 yards per game on the ground to this point.
That will probably be enough to prevent D’Onta Foreman from setting a new career high again this week, but not enough to make the ‘Horns one-dimensional, which should result in a few big plays through play action.
But even more so, I don’t trust Kansas State’s offense — one that will be led by a banged up Jesse Ertz — considering Texas’ weakness has been its secondary and the Wildcats aerial attack has been sub-par, to say the least, ranking 112th in the nation with only 167 yards per game.
Texas 34, Kansas State 17
Robert Larkin — staff writer
I don’t necessarily believe the Iowa State win was indicative that Charlie Strong has righted all the problems on defense, but there were a lot of good signs on that side of the ball last week.
On top of the unit’s improvement, Strong and company will be going against one of the worst offenses in the Big 12, including a Kansas State passing attack that ranks 118th in the nation according to the S&P+ offensive ratings.
I predict Sterlin Gilbert will get his offense off to a stronger start than last week, and the ‘Horns offense will build some confidence in the first half.
Look for another big game from D’Onta Foreman on the ground, a guy who is slowly creeping up as the most productive running back in the entire country.
Simply put, I think talent wins out Saturday morning. The Longhorns will capture an elusive win in the Little Apple and return to above .500 before its contest against Baylor.
Texas 31, Kansas State 21
Abram Orlansky — staff writer
The old standard assumption is that Vegas gives a team three points for being at home, so Vegas basically thinks this one is a wash.
I largely agree — K-State's defense should allow Texas to run roughshod if the game plan is executed, but the Wildcat offensive line is scary good. The Iowa State performance was encouraging on the defensive side of the ball, but I'm not ready to say that unit has turned a corner until they show they can do it on the road against a team with more than one win.
Kansas State outscored Texas Tech in a Manhattan shootout and lost to West Virginia by just a single point on the road. And, of course, the Longhorns have won in Manhattan only one time since I enrolled at Texas in 2002.
I want very badly to be wrong, as a win here could indicate a good finish for Strong and propel us into a great 2017 — but I don't see Texas putting together a complete enough game to get the victory.
I fear the offense will pull its patented disappearing act for a long stretch in the second half, the defense will not be able to play four quarters of the kind of cohesive football we saw last week, and the 'Cats will score on three or four straight drives in the third quarter to put Texas behind the 8 ball.
Kansas State 38, Texas 30
Michael Pelech — staff writer
If Kansas State was rolling out an offense led by Collin Klein or Jake Waters again, I'd be concerned about Texas maintaining the defensive momentum it started against Iowa State.
But the combo Jesse Hertz and Joe Hubener is closer to ISU's Jacob Park and Joel Lanning combo than Klein or Waters. Don't be surprised if defensive tackle Chris Nelson has another big game controlling the middle of the defense.
On offense, I'll keep predicting D'Onta Foreman 100-yard performances until he's on an NFL roster. I also like the match up of the large Texas wide receiver group against a small set of Kansas State defensive backs.
Special teams and sound defensive scheming will keep the Wildcats in this, but I think Texas does enough on both sides of the ball to win a low-scoring affair.
Texas 20, Kansas State 14
Jeff Asher — staff member
Texas is now undefeated in weeks where I offer a prediction in this column so I'm gonna do it again. The ‘Horns build off their strong second half against Iowa State for a 31-20 victory on the road against Kansas State. Marcus Tubbs blocks a field goal with two minutes left that would cut the lead down to one score sealing a victory for Texas.
Texas 31, Kansas State 20
Wes Crochet — staff writer
I’ll be honest, I’ve flipped flopped back and forth on this game. Texas is the more talented team while Kansas State is the more disciplined. Texas Puts up more points on average and has a two-dimensional offense while Kansas State averages over one turnover a game and leads the Big 12 in turnover margin (+1.17).
Both teams are 3-3, and each have their own strength’s and flaws. The key here is which Texas team will show up?
We know what Kansas State is. The Wildcats are a tough team, coached to play smart football, create turnovers, and try to win on the ground by winning in the trenches.
As for the Longhorns, the best case scenario is the team has success running behind D’Onta Foreman while passing over the top and to the outside with Buechele and his receivers while the defense plays well enough to keep the score in favor of the ‘Horns.
The issue is we’ve seen different Texas teams throughout this entire season. And when we add that this game is on the road, the question marks grow even more.
But if there’s one weakness Kansas State has right now, it’s passing. The Wildcats’ offense struggles to make plays through the air and the defense has ranked the worst in the Big 12 during the month of October in conference play.
If Texas protects the football, avoids stupid penalties, plays well on kick and punt coverage, and makes plays through the air, the ‘Horns will get their first road win.
Texas 28, Kansas State 24