Following the disappointing season-opening loss to the Maryland Terrapins, the Texas Longhorns have now won two of their last three and will presented with an opportunity to build further momentum against the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday.
The Purple Wizard’s Wildcats boast one more win at 3-1, but Kansas State will enter DKR as slight underdogs ahead of a grueling stretch in their own season. To that end, Jon Morse of Bring On The Cats joined Burnt Orange Nation to discuss which program needs this win more and how they can go about improving in the win column:
BON: Kansas State and Texas are both at a point in their season where a loss on Saturday can spark a multiple-game skid. Which program needs this win more?
BOTC: I think that Texas and its fans, in the back of their minds, figure that losing to K-State would just be par for the course. Conversely, K-State knows they're that sharp sticky thing in Texas's shoe. And for the Cats, a loss Saturday means that either a sweep of Kansas/Iowa State/Tech is required to get to six wins, or winning two of those plus "someone else".
But if they lose to Texas, beating "someone else" is very much in doubt. So I'd say K-State needs it more.
BON: At 2-2, Texas hasn’t turned the corner yet and although it’s unlikely, that could happen throughout the next three weeks depending on how things play out. From an outsider’s view, does it seem like Texas finally has the man who can turn the program around?
BOTC: You'll have to take my opinion on this matter with a grain of salt, because I thought Charlie Strong was that guy. But yes, I think Tom Herman will do a good job in Austin. I just don't know that Texas can be expecting to routinely be in the national championship discussion.
BON: K-State entered the year as a legitimate Big 12 dark horse, but the Wildcats haven’t exactly performed to that level the last few weeks. That said, KSU is still 3-1, so is Bill Snyder’s bunch fine entering the meat of their Big 12 schedule, or are you worried about how they may finish?
BOTC: K-State, right now, has one glaring flaw. Until it's corrected, I'm worried about every single game on the schedule except for one.
BON: With K-State’s offense struggling a bit and the Texas defense looking dominant, this game seems like it may be decided by whether or not the ‘Horns struggling offense can find any success against a group that’s allowing only 15 points per game. What can Tim Beck exploit to put some points on the board and move past the ‘Horns offense funk?
BOTC: It's going to be rough, I suspect. People have eye-rolled me this week for saying this, but except for two plays K-State's defense handled that Baylor squad that hung 40 on Oklahoma just fine. But those two plays involved a running back who I think is probably better than what the ‘Horns have, and a pass play that I'm not sure the injury-riddled Texas offensive line can help protect.
BON: Likewise, Kansas State’s bread and butter is its physical ground game, but the ‘Horns fun defense has been absolutely dominant. Do you see Jesse Ertz, Alex Barnes and this KSU offense breaking free and totaling more than 100 rushing yards?
BOTC: That's largely going to depend on whether the receivers decide that maybe, just maybe, it's actually fun to hold onto the brown oblate spheroid. If K-State can manage to execute a passing game, then they might be able to run the ball as well. If not, Texas will just stack the box and we'll have another ugly game like that year K-State won despite only having 121 yards of offense...
BON: If The Purple Wizard foresaw the outcome of Saturday's game and said KSU would return to Manhattan at 3-2, that would mean Texas exposed what weaknesses?
BOTC: It would mean that Texas was able to keep enough pressure on the wideouts to prevent them from regaining their stroke, and that offensively Texas was able to outgun K-State on the edge.
BON: Lastly, how does this pan out? Does Bill Snyder have enough magic to continue his dominance in Texas, or will some of that fairy dust Herman talked about finally lead to some momentum and a third win in four games?
BOTC: I've harped on the receivers during the previous answers, but I think that the embarrassment against Baylor — Ertz had 10 incompletions in only 17 attempts, only two of them were his own fault, and Snyder himself called the unit out in the post-game, which never happens the way it happened — will have the wideouts angry and focused. I also see enough injury issues with the Texas offense to give me reason to believe that they'll struggle. I think K-State once again escapes Austin with a win, this time one which a healthy Texas might have managed to keep for themselves.