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Staff Predictions: #24 Texas vs. #13 Kansas State

HornSports Staff
HornSports Staff

After enjoying a much-needed bye week to heal and get their heads mentally prepared for their next opponent, the #24 Texas Longhorns (5-3, 3-2) travel to Manhattan, Kansas this week to face a formidable Kansas State (6-2, 4-1) team that is ranked 13th in the country.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian has trouble winning on the road and until he wins a true road game, the Texas critics will remain vocal.  This is a business trip for the Longhorns in what is, in our opinion, a hinge-game for the program.  A loss ensures no better than a 7-5 season which may or may not be seen as progress under the second year head coach.  The Wildcats are a solid team, but the Longhorns are talented and have the capability to win this game with smart play and smart coaching.

The outcome will be dictated by a variety of factors, but the play of Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers will be paramount.  Ewers struggled in his last outing in Stillwater, failing to find his rhythym with his receivers on most of his deep passes.  The hopes of the Texas offense rely on a bounce-back game for Ewers, who will face a WIldcat defense that ranks 44th in the country and allows 221 passing yards per game.  

Kansas State's quarterback situation is fluid and the Longhorns should expect Wildcats coach Chris Klieman to potentially play both Adrian Martinez and Will Howard.  Howard started last week in place of Martinez, who has an injured kneee, and led the Wildcats to a 48-0 drubbing of Oklahoma State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

The stakes are high on Saturday evening for both programs.  Kansas State hopes to maintain their stranglehold on second place in the Big 12 with a win, while Texas would keep themselves in the mix for an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game with a victory.

The Longhorns have won five straight against the Wildcats including the last two in Manhattan.  Do they have what it takes to deliver Sark a true road win and become bowl eligible with three regular season games remaining?

Our staff weighs in with their thoughts on the game's outcome.

Jameson McCausland (6-2)

I have to see it to believe it at this point. Texas has not earned the benefit of the doubt with how they've played on the road under Steve Sarkisian and this week presents another difficult matchup in Manhattan. I expect this to be a close game in the 4th quarter, but it's hard to have any type of confidence in Texas making the necessary plays to win. I expect Quinn Ewers to bounce back and have a much better outing than he had in Stillwater, but Kansas State still presents some tough challenges defensively and I question if Texas will be able to run the ball effectively enough for 60 minutes. Defensively for Texas, they have to find a way to get Kansas State into 3rd and long AND then get off the field. The Wildcats passing offense is questionable at best and allowing them to extend through the air is going to make for a long evening.

There is absolutely a path for Texas to win this game, but they need to show they can go down that path.

Score Prediction:  Kansas State 31, Texas 27

Aaron Carrara (6-2)

Texas hasn't proven that they can win on the road and the coaching staff hasn't proven that they can make the necessary adjustments to hold leads or come from behind to win football games.  Texas has a nice five game winning streak against K-State but that streak will be put to the test on Saturday night in the Little Apple.  The Longhorns will face a solid Wildcat team on both sides of the ball, a really good football coach in Chris Klieman, and likely multiple quarterbacks that possess diverse skillsets in Adrian Martinez and Will Howard.  Throw in the uncertainty of how starting quarterback Quinn Ewers will play in a hostile environment and the health of injured starters to your secondary makes me not comfortable with this game.  The Texas players held their second players-only meeting following the loss to Oklahoma State and we will see if they have the hunger or a rekindled sense of fight to get the job done in Manhattan.  I just don't see them winning a game of this magnitude on the road.

Score Prediction:  Kansas State 34, Texas 27

Devon Messinger (6-2)

On Saturday, the Longhorns will travel to the Little Apple to take on a Kansas State Wildcats team that had no problem putting the Oklahoma State Cowboys to bed - something that the Longhorns were not able to do in their last game.

Even if Kansas State's typical starting quarterback Adrian Martinez is not able to play, due to an injury he sustained against TCU, backup quarterback Will Howard has kept the Wildcats offense firing on all cylinders. Additionally, with a banged up Longhorns secondary that may potentially be without defensive backs Ryan Watts and Anthony Cook, Texas might have to lean on its youth in Saturday's game.

While the Longhorns certainly have a shot in this game, it is impossible to know which version of the team will show up on Saturday. Furthermore, Texas will need to see the emergence of a new receiving threat to help out quarterback Quinn Ewers, who has not been able to get on the same page with guys not named Jordan Whittington, Xavier Worthy, or Ja'Tavion Sanders. If one of the younger receiving targets takes advantage of his opportunity, and running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson are able to carry much of the load offensively, the Longhorns could very well end up being in the driver's seat in Saturday's game.

Score Prediction:  Kansas State 37, Texas 34

TFloss32 (7-1)

I don’t like this match-up for Texas. At all. The funny thing is, though, it’s games like these where you struggle as a fan to find small positives and the Horns ends up pleasantly surprising you. Maybe this is Sark’s statement game. Maybe Saturday evening sees this program’s incredibly frustrating road woes come to an end. K-State’s absolute shellacking of Oklahoma State last weekend shows you simply never know what’s going to happen. But as I said before the Oklahoma State game, and for the sake of making predictions, I’ll continue to fade the good guys’ chances against any team away from DKR until they prove otherwise. Much like in Lubbock and Stillwater, this is a winnable game that requires Texas getting out of its own way. I’m not convinced they’re ready to make that leap, but the time for that is now if they want to keep their conference title hopes alive.

Score Prediction:  Kansas State 34, Texas 30

Ryan Swantkowski (5-2)

The Longhorns are coming off their bye week that they desperately needed in order to get healthy and overall, as Sarkisian says, "hit the reset button". The Kansas State Wildcats last weekend beat Oklahoma State, who Texas fell to two weeks ago, 48 to 0 (!) and look as hot as ever. Let's take a quick look at both teams. 

Sticking with Kansas State, they have one of the best running backs in the nation in Deuce Vaughn but have a question mark at quarterback as both Adrian Martinez and Will Howard could see action in this game. Defensively, the Wildcats are obviously coming off their best performance of the season and rank 44th in the nation in total defense. 

Looking over to Texas, the Horns should be fresh and ready to roll as they have had 2 weeks to prepare for this tough Kansas State team. Offensively, QB Quinn Ewers looks to bounce back as he went 19/49 with 3 interceptions against Oklahoma State. Also, the offense is obviously full of weapons that can help him out. Defensively, the Horns have struggled on the road heavily and need to limit penalties if they have any shot at truly competing with this well-rounded K State offense. 

I like the Longhorns to keep it close, but being favored on the road with no true road victory on the season AND playing against a red-hot team, I have to take the Wildcats here. 

Score Prediction:  Kansas State 30, Texas 27

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