The Kansas State Wildcats' dominance of the Texas Longhorns stands as one of the more surprising cases in college football of one school having another’s number. KSU owns a 10-7 edge in head-to-head meetings, dating back to the two teams' first matchup in 1913. The majority of the Wildcats' wins came in the last decade: They’re 7-2 versus the 'Horns in their last nine matchups. (Even Ron Prince managed to go 2-0 versus UT during his beleaguered stint as KSU's head coach.)
In their last meeting, K-State squeaked out a 24-21 win despite Texas owning a plus-three turnover differential. The oddsmakers are expecting another tight one this season. Setting aside recent history, they’ve installed the Longhorns as small favorites.
Kansas State at Texas
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FS1
Spread: Texas -3.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Keep away
Legendary KSU head coach Bill Snyder loves tormenting his opponents by ordering his team to hold the ball on offense. In a league known for up-tempo offenses, the Wildcats play at a methodical pace and drain the clock.
On the flip side, UT can stymie Snyder by forcing three-and-outs. Every KSU converted first down gives the Wildcats a chance to milk even more time.
2. Who takes advantages of turnovers?
Through four games, UT and KSU have collected eight and nine turnovers, respectively. The 'Horns have made the most of their takeaways, scoring four defensive touchdowns.
On the flip side, UT's offense has turned the ball over eight times this season, including four times in a loss to USC in week three. That will have KSU's opportunistic defense smelling blood.
Winning the turnover battle is key in any game, but it might be even more important this time.
3. Converting in the red zone
UT's inability to consistently make good on scoring opportunities on offense hamstrung the team through all of September. Of the 16 times that the Longhorns have found themselves inside their opponent’s 20, they have scored on just 11 trips. (It's hard to say which is worse — the lack of red zone opportunities or the inefficiency.)
Befitting its bend-but-don't-break style, meanwhile, KSU has stiffened up on defense inside the red zone this season. Opponents have scored touchdowns on only four of 10 chances against the Wildcats.
Texas head coach Tom Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck would be wise to put a few wrinkles in place this week for when their offense is in scoring range.
Frankly, these teams haven’t offered much reason to trust them this year. UT has yet to prove it can move the ball consistently enough to rise to the level of much more than a .500 team in Herman’s first year. KSU's 14-7 loss at Vanderbilt a couple weeks ago didn’t inspire much confidence in its offense, either.
The one unit on either side in this matchup that has shown occasional flashes of brilliance is the Texas defense. The Longhorns rebounded from a shellacking at the hands of Maryland in the season opener to pitch a shutout against San Jose State, put the clamps on USC and Sam Darnold, and hold Iowa State to a measly seven points.
Expect a low-scoring slugfest in which the Wildcats try to let Texas outmistake (underexecute?) them. Ironically, a defensive score by the Longhorns might turn out to be the difference.
Prediction: Texas 21, Kansas State 17
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.