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Three thoughts as Texas defeats No. 20 Kansas State

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The Longhorns overcame an early deficit to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive.

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns hosted the No. 20 Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday afternoon, improving to 6-3 and keeping their outside chance at a Big 12 championship alive. It took every bit of 60 minutes to pull off the win, but the fact remains that the Longhorns defeated a ranked opponent on Saturday.

Stay on schedule

Texas was able to use a mixture of run-pass options and quick passes to stay ahead of the chains for most of Saturday afternoon. Despite putting themselves in trouble several times due to penalties, the Longhorns did not have a busted drive on the afternoon — defined as drives that gain zero or negative yards. Kansas State did force two three and outs on the afternoon, but overall, the Longhorns were able to drive the football and protect their defense from the wear and tear the Kansas State offense likes to inflict on opposing defenses.

Keaontay Ingram ran the ball for 139 yards while Roschon Johnson added 35 with both averaging over seven yards per carry. Aside from throwing one interception, Sam Ehlinger was efficient, completing nearly 76 percent of his passes, while only being sacked twice and averaging over nine yards per pass attempt

The most telling statistic in this game, however, is that Texas had a time of possession of 31:49. The Longhorns were able to beat Kansas State at their own game, imposing their will on the ground and taking control of the game.

Game Grade: A

Explosive plays

Texas was able to come up with five explosive plays, while holding Kansas State to three. Kansas State had an explosive drive, defined as a drive which averages ten or more yards per play, on their first drive due to a 70-yard touchdown pass on a busted coverage on the third play of the game, however, the Longhorns defense recovered, not allowing any explosive plays or drives in the final three quarters of the game.

The offense was able to put together two explosive drives and explosive plays both on the ground and through the air. Texas’ ability to limit turnovers and control the pace of the game all while not sacrificing their explosiveness was impressive. The team would have earned an A in this category was it not for the first quarter defensive struggles.

Game Grade: B+

Defensive line play

The Longhorns only gave up 55 rushing yards on 26 carries, an average of three yards per carry. In addition to recording three quarterback sacks, Texas was able to make Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson uncomfortable in the pocket for most of the day, all while keeping him from breaking contain and making plays with his legs. The combination of solid rush defense along with getting pressure on the quarterback was impressive.

The defensive line stepped up their play on Saturday, and that was a big part of why the Longhorns were able to defeat a ranked opponent. The improved play along the defensive line will need to continue over the next several games if the Longhorns want to keep their conference title hopes alive.

Game Grade: A

Overall grade

Despite the slow start, Texas had several opportunities to put the game away in the second half. An ill-advised throw deep in Kansas State territory resulted in an interception, which took points off the board. Texas also allowed a Kansas State field goal in the fourth quarter due to a targeting penalty. Furthermore, the Longhorns squandered at least two red zone opportunities due to senseless penalties.

Texas lost the penalty battle, giving Kansas State 85 yards in penalties while only benefiting from 20 penalty yards. Had it not been for the one turnover and Texas’ insistence on hurting themselves with poor discipline, this game would not have been nearly as contested as it was. Texas out gained Kansas State by nearly 200 yards and won the time of possession. Most impressively, Texas out-rushed Kansas State 214 to 51.

Kansas State is a ranked team, and wins against ranked teams are not to be taken lightly. The penalties are the difference maker here, however, as it is unlikely Texas will be able to win their next two games if the penalty issues continue.

This, along with the slow start defensively will prevent a grade of an A+, however, the Longhorns showed massive improvement over the previous four-game stretch. If this improvement continues, winning out and playing for the conference championship is a sure possibility.

Game Grade: A-