Editor's note: On Thursday afternoon, the Big 12 announced that Saturday's scheduled game between Texas and Kansas was canceled due to the Longhorns' COVID-19 issues.
The Texas Longhorns will travel to Lawrence on Saturday to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in a game that was originally supposed to take place back on Nov. 21. That game was postponed due to KU's COVID-19 issues but this time, it's UT who paused football activities earlier in the week, adding a degree of uncertainty to Saturday's meeting.
Texas (6-3, 5-3 Big 12) is coming off a 69-31 blowout win over Kansas State that could not have come at a better time for head coach Tom Herman. He's on the hot seat after not being able to get the Longhorns back into national title contention thus far in his tenure, and a loss last weekend might very well have sealed his fate.
Kansas (0-9, 0-8) had a shot at its first win of the season last week against Texas Tech, with the game tied with more than 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. But a Red Raiders field goal with 5:36 left on the clock sent the Jayhawks to their 12th straight Big 12 loss (13 in a row overall), as they fell 16-13 in Lubbock.
The last time these teams met it, the Longhorns escaped with a 50-48 victory in Austin thanks to a 33-yard field goal by Cameron Dicker as time expired. Herman is probably hoping history doesn't repeat itself as the last thing he can afford is a close call against a team that hasn't won in more than a year.
No. 20 Texas at Kansas
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. ET
Spread: Texas -29.5
When Texas Has the Ball
The Longhorns are going to score on big plays, both on the ground and through the air. Sam Ehlinger's dual-threat ability at quarterback adds an extra degree of difficulty when it comes to stopping this offense. His mobility allows his receivers extra time to get open — often for explosive plays. The effectiveness of the Texas rushing attack doesn't do opponents any favors either. Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson are a couple of big, bruising backs with speed who can move the chains at will. In last week's rout of Kansas State, Robinson went for 172 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries.
Head coach Tom Herman will have plenty of options against a Kansas defense that ranks last in the Big 12 in three of the four major categories — total, scoring and rushing defense. Even after giving up just 16 points to Texas Tech last week, the Jayhawks' season average in that department is 46 per game. Against the Wildcats, the Longhorns averaged a first down (10.1 ypc) every time they ran the ball. KU is giving up 236 rushing yards per game and nearly six yards (5.8) per carry.
When Kansas Has the Ball
The Jayhawks simply need to take what opposing defenses give them. This season, that hasn't been much. Kansas has had a revolving door at both quarterback and running back, so the offense has lacked both continuity and consistency as a result. With nothing to lose as nearly 30-point underdogs, expect head coach Les Miles to pull out all the stops, including exhausting his collection of trick plays, in order to make this one somewhat interesting.
Kansas wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II will likely be heavily involved in the game plan. He's coming off of his worst game of the season against Texas Tech (5 rec., 18 yds.), so the Jayhawks will need him to step up in a big way simply to keep this game close before halftime. Running back Pooka Williams Jr.'s decision to opt out robbed KU of its best playmaker and a committee of ball carriers (Velton Gardner, Daniel Hinshaw Jr., Amauri Pesek-Hickson) haven't had much success in replacing that production. The Jayhawks are averaging 2.7 yards per carry as a team.
It wasn't that long ago (2016) when Kansas beat Texas. And it happened in Lawrence too. But don't expect lightning to strike twice on Saturday. The Jayhawks are outmanned everywhere, especially in the trenches on both sides of the ball. This has been the case all season, and until they can recruit and develop any legitimate linemen, Kansas football will remain a doormat of the FBS.
On the other side, you have a Longhorns team that seems to be rallying around their embattled head coach. Look for Sam Ehlinger to lead the way in his last Big 12 game as the Texas offense puts on a clinic en route to a result that surprises no one.
Prediction: Texas 59, Kansas 6
Podcast: CFB Rankings, Coaching Changes and Week 15 Preview and Predictions
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.