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Kansas State Wildcats vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Prediction

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Texas did what no one thought they could. They saved their season, and probably saved their coach’s job.

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The Longhorns (2-4) went all hands on deck in Dallas to pull out a surprising and shocking victory. Head coach Charlie Strong pulled out all the tricks to keep Oklahoma off balance all day. Texas has hit a much-needed reset button on a season that was quickly slipping away. The Longhorns sit at 2-4, with a remaining schedule of games that are very winnable (minus the closer at Baylor), starting with Kansas State this weekend.

Texas comes into its matchup with the Kansas State (3-3) riding an incredible wave of momentum and belief, and well rested from their bye week. The Longhorns will take on a scrappy Wildcats team that has not fared well in Big 12 play, coming up short against Oklahoma State and TCU and being blown out against Oklahoma last week. It’s been a tough start to league play for head coach Bill Snyder and the gang. Now the Wildcats will enter Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to face a Longhorns team that has possibly found its competitive identity and won back the confidence of its fan base.

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Kansas State at Texas

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FS1

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Spread: Texas -4.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Texas D

The Longhorns turned in their most impressive defensive performance of the season against Oklahoma, holding the Sooners to 67 total yards rushing and slowing down quarterback Baker Mayfield, and holding him to 20-of-28 passing and 211 yards. What was most impressive is that they actually LOOKED confident. There were not many mistakes made from this young team, and that is a scary thought for the rest of the Big 12. Kansas State does not have near the offensive prowess that Oklahoma has, and the Wildcats didn't score against them. If the Longhorns truly have found their defensive identity, then the Wildcats have no shot.

2. Swoopes and Heard

Swoopes and Heard is not a law firm, but it is the last names of the quarterback duo of the Texas Longhorns. Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard led a Texas rushing attack that the Sooners had no answer for all day. The Longhorns rushed for 313 total yards, combining for 25 carries for 129 yards and a TD. Swoopes and Heard also added two passing TDs as well. The combination seemed to keep the Sooners off balance all day, so expect to see more going forward.

3. Let Charlie Be Charlie

The biggest change that Texas made during the Red River Showdown seemed to be Strong finally trusting HIS instincts. He seemed to be very active in the decision-making during the game play-calling, and Texas took risks on offense and defense that paid big dividends. The risks seemed to be called at timely moments within the game. It seems clear going forward that Strong must trust his own instincts, and make the executive decisions when he feels the need. He is a historically great play-caller, and he understands defensive tendencies as well as anyone. Strong must help his defense to maintain their identity.

Final Analysis

Texas has found something on both sides of the ball. The formula they used against Oklahoma seems to be an interesting one, as long as they don’t have to pass the ball. That same formula should work against an inept Kansas State team, who struggles offensively. Texas should be able to run against the Wildcats and the Swoopes/Heard combination should be able to keep the Wildcats off balance all afternoon. Expect the Wildcats to play from behind for much of the game.

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Prediction: Texas 31, Kansas State 10

— Written by Lloyd H. Spence, Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence also has written for the Dallas Morning News, Yahoo!'s Rivals.com, and ESPN Louisville. He can be heard on the radio of "Talkin NOIZ" and "The Football Show of Collin County." Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.