The Longhorns and Wildcats square off in the last game of the regular season on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Wildcats are bowl-bound while the Longhorns will be watching the post-season from the sofa. While the season has been a huge disappointment, Texas has an opportunity to finish with a win.
Here are four things I'll be keeping an eye on in the game.
Can Texas contain Duece Vaughn?
The Round Rock native will be playing in his first game in Austin and he will be looking to make a statement. Tom Herman and company didn’t offer Vaughn despite being him being just down the road and I’m sure we’ll be reminded of that on Friday's broadcast a few dozen times. In his young career with the Wildcats, Vaughn has mirrored Darren Sproles and I expect nothing to change in Friday's contest. Vaughn could be the best back Texas faces this season and given their struggles to stop the run, that isn’t good. Vaughn is averaging 5.9 yards a carry and he will be playing in front of family and friends on Friday, which is only added motivation.
Will Skyler Thompson play?
The Kansas State QB was carted off the field last Saturday but Head Coach Chris Klieman said there’s an outside shot he plays against the Longhorns. The Wildcats are a much different team with Thompson on the field. They are 6-2 this season when he finishes the game and 1-2 when he doesn’t. Last year Kansas State was the favorite to win the Big 12 before Thompson suffered a season ending injury in October. If he doesn’t play, Kansas State will be starting sophomore Jaren Lewis who has a 20.6 QBR in his limited time this season. That is a major difference and if Lewis plays Texas will have a shot to win.
Will a WR outside of Xavier Worthy step up?
Worthy may be the best wideout in conference as a true freshman which is a bright spot in a down year. What they have outside of him is what Steve Sarkisian must figure out. Jordan Whittington has been good when healthy this year and made his return last week. Unfortunately Texas was unable to get him the ball but they need to do so this week if they want to get the offense clicking. Marcus Washington has had his moments this season but against West Virginia the drops were an issue for him. This is a game that provides opportunity for Washington to show the coaching staff that he can be a factor next season and beyond.
Who will start at QB for the Longhorns?
Last weekend against the Mountaineers both Thompson and Card left the game banged up. Card took a questionable hit to his ankle which hobbled him and Thompson is still dealing with his thumb injury. Sark declined to name a starter this week but Thompson will likely take the first snap. Thompson has either been great or below average this year - nothing in between. Sarkisian also stated this week that he will be bringing in outside competition for QB this off-season. This is a good opportunity for both Card and Thompson to leave an impression as they head into the offseason, or one or both may be portal-bound.