Big 12 Previews

Kansas State vs. Texas: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Texas

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 match up in our Kansas State vs. Texas preview and prediction.

Game Info

11:00 a.m., Saturday, December 5th, 2020; Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas

TV: FOX

Radio: Longhorns IMG Radio Network (Craig Way); K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson)

Spread: Texas -10

Fun Fact: The Texas Longhorns have won three in a row in the series, but every game has been close, decided by a total of 14 points.

 

Key Players

Texas Longhorns

QB Sam Ehlinger

The swan song is in full effect for QB Sam Ehlinger, who is playing his last two games in Burnt Orange. He has been the best QB at Texas since Colt McCoy, but was never able to win a Big 12 Championship. That being said, don’t expect Ehlinger to do anything but give his all these last two games. He’s thrown for 267 yards per game, with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions, plus 388 rushing yards and eight scores. He’s carried this team his entire career and will need to do it again on Saturday.

LB Juwan Mitchell

Mitchell has quietly had a really nice season for the Longhorns. He’s a second-year player who participated in 11 games last season with 39 tackles. But this season, he already has 56 tackles, and his 7.0 tackles per game are Top 10 in the Big 12 this season. Mitchell had one of his best games of the season against Iowa State with 10 tackles, his second-best total of the season. He will need to play a big role against a K-State team that will try to get its running game going early and often.

Kansas State Wildcats

RB Deuce Vaughn

Vaughn is only a true freshman, but is in many ways the engine of the offense, especially since K-State is working in at true freshman at QB in Will Howard. Vaughn has 517 rushing yards on the season with 389 receiving yards and will need his dual-threat ability to be on display to beat Texas. Last week against Baylor, he had his second-best game of the season with 102 rushing yards, one rushing TD, plus 19 receiving yards and a score. That will need to continue on Saturday.

Linebackers Justin Hughes/Elijah Sullivan

Head coach Chris Klieman said this week that he expects both his starting linebackers to be back this week. The two have missed the last two games with COVID-19 issues and K-State desperately needs it as they’ve allowed an average of nearly 40 points per game against Iowa State and Baylor. It’s not clear if they will start, but just getting them back on the field adds much needed depth on defense.

 

Key Storylines

Texas Longhorns

What is Texas’ motivation in this game? After losing to Iowa State last week, Tom Herman is getting more pressure and there are concerns as to whether or not he will remain as head coach. Heck, the Urban Meyer to Texas rumors are already here. On top of that, Texas has had two of its best players, and captains, decide to opt out of the rest of the season. Texas is the better team going up against a K-State squad that has lost four in a row. But motivation is important in any sport, and it’s not clear that the Longhorns will be fully engaged in this game.

Kansas State Wildcats

The Wildcats need to get something going in the passing game. They’re going up against a Texas squad that is giving up the most passing yards per game (286) in the entire Big 12 this season, while they’re rushing defense is No. 4 in the conference. The problem for K-State is that the passing offense for the Wildcats is second-worst in the Big 12, with only 187 passing yards per game. But if Kansas State wants to pull off the upset, they’ve got to take some shots, especially since Texas will be without its star safety Caden Sterns. Chris Klieman and OC Courtney Messingham need to try and open up the offense as best they can.

Prediction

Texas 28, Kansas State 24

The Texas Longhorns are limping into this game and Kansas State is going to be motivated as its a young team getting to play the Texas Longhorns. But Texas is still the vastly more talented and experienced team in this game and while K-State will keep it closer than many expect, the Longhorns will hang on for the win.

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