The Texas Longhorns (5-3, 3-2) look to become bowl eligible for the third time in three seasons under Tom Herman, when they host the Kansas State Wildcats (6-2, 3-2) on Saturday. Both teams are jockeying for position in the Big 12 standings in hope of earning a berth in the Conference Championship Game at the end of the season. The Longhorns are coming off an ugly loss at TCU, while the Wildcats are riding a three-game win streak. Can Texas do enough to send Kansas State packing with a loss? Our staff weighs in on Saturday’s upcoming matchup.
The Longhorns own a two-game winning streak against the Wildcats and I expect that streak to continue on Saturday. Texas gets several key players back from injury, and they play the ‘Cats at home. I think Sam Ehlinger gets back on track with a solid performance, and Todd Orlando’s defense does enough to limit Skylar Thompson’s rushing threat. The Longhorns need to maximize time of possession to ensure a win and become bowl eligible.
Prediction: Texas 34, Kansas State 31
This team is desperately in need of a comeback win this week. It won’t be easy against one of the hottest teams in the Big 12, but I like Texas’ chances of making a statement win on Saturday at home. With multiple starters returning from injury on both sides of the ball, this game will be really telling for how the rest of the season will play out. It’s do-or-die at this point for this team if they want to win the conference, and I think they “do” behind a strong offensive performance.
Prediction: Texas 38, Kansas State 27
Despite all the defensive struggles for Texas, this is a matchup Todd Orlando will welcome with open arms. The Wildcats do a lot of things well offensively, but they are not your typical Big 12 offense. If Texas defends the QB run adequately and plays decent assignment football, they will have a very good chance of pulling out a victory. On offense, Texas should have opportunities to move the ball down the field. Brennan Eagles will likely be back following his one-game absence against TCU. If Sam Ehlinger plays a clean game, I l like the Longhorns in a close one.
Prediction: Texas 28, Kansas State 24
I mentioned before the TCU game that I felt Texas was at a crossroads, but that rings even more true on Saturday. With the team coming off of a bye week and returning a handful of players, the time is now to come out swinging in front of the home crowd. Win this one, and you give yourself life in the conference race and gain confidence heading into two straight road battles. Lose this one, and you’re potentially fighting tooth-and-nail to secure bowl eligibility. Texas is favored by approximately one TD, but K-State loves to hog the ball (third highest TOP in the country) and have held all opponents, other than OU, to 31 points or less. That’s certainly not a great recipe for an offense that has struggled to find their rhythm for the past month. Every possession will matter and there won’t be multiple chances to play catch-up. I expect a much-improved effort from the burnt orange, but ultimately K-State’s current momentum and methodical approach will be too much.
Prediction: Kansas State 40, Texas 27
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