The Texans Longhorns will travel to Lawrence, Kansas, to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in a battle of two teams in desperate need of a win after roller-coaster seasons for both clubs.
Texas had high hopes early on after losing by one point to Alabama. Injuries and miscues since then have been the catalysts for what is now a 6-4 record (4-3 in the Big 12) with two games left.
Kansas shot out of the gates to a 5-0 start, but the Jayhawks have since lost four of their last five games. Lance Leipold's club just hasn't been able to recover from losing quarterback Jalon Daniels to injury against TCU. As a result, they too sit at 6-4 (3-4 in conference) heading into this contest.
The two teams will now meet to jockey for position in the Big 12, which will ultimately determine where they head for bowl season.
Texas at Kansas
When Texas Has the Ball
Quarterback Quinn Ewers is a potential future first-round NFL draft pick based on pure talent and physical traits. He's had injury issues this season, but those aside, it's still apparent he has some growing to do. He's been largely inconsistent and inaccurate recently, and over the last three games his touchdown to interception ratio is 1:1. That needs to improve if Texas is going to win on Saturday and moving forward. Luckily the Jayhawks are among the worst teams in the Big 12 against the pass, so the opportunity for Ewers to put up better numbers will be there.
Texas features a solid wide receiver duo in Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington, along with one of the better tight ends in the country in Ja'Tavion Sanders. Those three shouldn't have much trouble getting open against Kansas' coverage on Saturday.
On the ground, everything runs through Bijan Robinson for the Longhorns. Robinson is probably the most talented running back in the country and is expected by most to be an immediate star next season in the NFL. Despite opposing coordinators knowing they need to stop Robinson to have a shot at beating Texas, the junior has still piled up 1,158 yards and 12 scores on the ground while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
When Kansas Has the Ball
Quarterback Jason Bean has been about as good as you'd like to see a backup be after stepping in for Daniels midway through the season. He's accurate and taking relatively good care of the football but doesn't provide the kind of threat and production with his legs that Daniels did. There aren't many throws Bean can't make, and Texas doesn't exactly excel against the pass. If he gets some time on Saturday, he can do some damage through the air.
When Bean looks downfield, he'll try to get the ball to Lawrence Arnold and Luke Grimm — the two leading receivers for the Jayhawks who have combined 915 yards and eight scores on the year. In the red zone, wide receiver Quentin Skinner and tight end Mason Fairchild use their height to their advantage as well as anyone. They each have five touchdown catches this season.
The Jayhawk rushing attack is led by Devin Neal, who will likely join Robinson in cashing NFL paychecks one day. He has 951 yards and seven touchdowns this season, including 414 yards on the ground in his last two games alone.
With two fairly talented offenses squaring off with two defenses that have plenty of issues, this should be a high-scoring affair. Kansas will have the home crowd on its side, looking to knock off Texas for a second consecutive season. The Longhorns will want to take the crowd out of it early by setting the tone on the ground with Robinson. If they are successful in doing that then advantage UT. If not, this game probably comes down to which team has the ball last or makes the most impactful plays on special teams.
Prediction: Texas 33, Kansas 30
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— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
*Price as of publication.