The Longhorns overcame the curse last season, winning 23-9. That was in the friendly confines of Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, though. UT hasn’t won in Manhattan since 2002.
Breaking that streak and getting a second straight win in Big 12 play will require the ‘Horns to avoid the kinds of monumental mistakes that Bill Snyder’s teams thrive on.
Texas at Kansas State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 22 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Kansas State -2
1. KSU’s QB Situation
A shoulder injury to starter Jesse Ertz last week against Oklahoma forced “Bazooka” Joe Hubener into action at quarterback. Hubener fires the ball out with plenty of velocity; it’s the aim part that tends to be lacking. In theory, KSU has all the pieces to exploit UT’s pitiful defense against the pass, but Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder probably doesn’t want to rely on Hubener’s scattershot throwing to do it.
If Ertz is limited this week, consider that a bullet dodged by Texas.
2. Keep Keeping it Simple
In his first game as defensive coordinator, Texas head coach Charlie Strong credited a simplified scheme with slowing down Iowa State’s occasionally frisky offense. The Longhorns held the Cyclones to just 3.6 yards per offensive play, which represented the D’s best performance since a week two blowout of UTEP.
Snyder predicates the KSU offense on deception in the form of run-pass options and nuanced wrinkles to basic plays. If Strong overcomplicates things this week, it could lead to busts and easy points for the Wildcats.
3. KSU’s Defensive Line
K-State boasts one of the more underrated defensive line’s in the country, led by senior Jordan Willis and bolstered by promising freshman Reggie Walker. They’re sturdy against the run and disruptive against the pass.
QB Shane Buechele is steady, but the KSU’s defensive front whipping Texas’ so-so offensive line would inevitably force some potentially deadly mistake by the freshman signal-caller.
Bill Snyder has constructed this Kansas State team in much the same way that he has built his other squads during his second stint as head coach. The Wildcats play a low-margin style that emphasizes staying on schedule when they have the ball and frustrating no-huddle offenses by forcing them to execute consistently.
While the defense continues to live up to its end of that bargain, the O is gradually eroding. QB play is declining and difference-makers at the skill positions are disappearing around Manhattan.
That’s a problem against a team like Texas. The Longhorns aren’t really an offensive juggernaut, but a decent number of points are eventually going up on the board when you play them.
Beating UT, therefore, requires having an offense capable of taking advantage of the numerous big-play opportunities offered up by its defense. K-State hasn’t really shown this season that it can.
Prediction: Texas 30, Kansas State 26
— 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.