Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in Austin, Texas in our Texas vs. Kansas State preview and prediction.
Date: October 7th, 2017 | 6:05 p.m. CT | Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
TV: FOX Sports 1| Justin Kutcher (PxP), Mark Helfrich and Petros Papadakis (analysts), Shane Bacon (sideline)
Radio: Longhorn IMG Radio Network | Craig Way (PxP), Roger Wallace (analyst), Quan Cosby (sideline)
Radio: K-State Sports Network | Wyatt Thompson (PxP) Stan Weber (Analyst) Matt Walters (Sidelines)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 132, XM 199
Fun fact: If Texas wins, it would be the program’s 894th all-time victory in program history, the third most in college football history. Meantime, a win for Kansas State would give Bill Snyder his 206th-career victory, to move within one win of tying for 20th in FBS history
Kansas State Wildcats
Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon, running backs
Texas’ run defense has been outstanding, ranking third in the Big 12 and getting better every week. Last Thursday they held David Montgomery to 34 rushing yards on nine carries. Kansas State’s offense, especially the passing game, has been inconsistent at times, so it’s imperative for these two in the backfield to get it going early to allow Jesse Ertz to open things up.
D.J. Reed, cornerback/return man
Reed had a brutal week on special teams against Baylor, but he is still listed as a kickoff return man and a punt return man on this week’s depth chart. In a game that could be one with one big defensive play or special teams play, Reed does not want to have those same mistakes that he could get away with against a young and rebuilding Baylor team.
Poona Ford, defensive tackle
Ford’s stats don’t jump off the page (10 tackles), but he has been the cog in the middle who has created several opportunities for his teammates to get in the backfield and cause havoc against the last two quarterbacks, Sam Darnold and Jacob Park, that Texas has faced.
Chris Warren, running back
Warren had more opportunities last week against Iowa State, getting 16 carries for 44 yards, versus the measly four carries he received against USC. Kansas State’s run defense is good, but it hasn’t been up to snuff in recent years. The Wildcats are allowing 120 rushing yards per game. Tom Herman desperately wants to get his rushing attack going, and Warren is still the best of the bunch in the backfield who should get his chances on Saturday.
Texas stopping the run
Since allowing 263 yards rushing to Maryland in the opener, the Longhorns have surrendered just 123 rushing yards in the last three games. The Texas rush defense (96.5 ypg) ranks 17th nationally and second-best in the Big 12. The guys up front like Poona Ford and Chris Nelson have done a great job in recent weeks for the Longhorns. Meanwhile, Kansas State comes in wanting to run the ball to set up the pass. K-State currently ranks third in the Big 12 with 229 rushing yards per game. Considering the issues K-State wide receivers have had with dropped passes in recent weeks, the Wildcats know they have to get the running game going to win.
Texas’ Red Zone defense
The Longhorns have the best red zone defense in the Big 12 conference and rank 9th in the nation in that category allowing opponents to score on just 7 of 11 trips. Meantime, K-State has been one of the best red zone teams over the past few years as the Wildcats are the only team to ﬁnish in the top-15 nationally in red zone offense in 2014, 2015 and 2016. So far, the Wildcats are 17 of 19 with 11 touchdowns in the red zone. Something has got to give.
Kansas State’s wide receivers
As noted, Texas can stop the run, allowing just 41 rushing yards per game since their opening loss to Maryland. The Kansas State wide receivers have dropped 10 passes the past two games against Vanderbilt and Baylor. This needs to be cleaned up prior to taking the field in Austin. So from Isaiah Zuber to Byron Pringle to Dominique Heath, all of these players need to step up and make at least a couple of big plays to give some life to a Kansas State offense that will need it on Saturday against the Longhorns.
Texas 20, Kansas State 17
If you’ve watched these two teams player over the past couple of weeks, there’s little doubt the Longhorns are playing the better football of the two. Texas has a close loss to USC, while beating Iowa State impressively on the road. Meantime, Kansas State has a couple of sloppy performances in a loss to Vanderbilt and a win over Baylor. I see Texas doing a great job slowing down the Kansas State rushing attack and forcing Jesse Ertz to beat them with his arm, which will end with an interception or two thanks to pressure from the Texas linebackers like Naashon Hughes, Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler. Through four games, Texas has returned three interceptions for touchdowns, which already is tied for the fourth-most in school history for a single season. Expect Texas to win in a low-scoring, by Big 12 standards, affair.