AUSTIN, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 03: Bijan Robinson #5 of the Texas Longhorns talks with Jaydon Blue #23 before the game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
No. 24 Texas (5-3) v. No. 13 Kansas State (6-2)
When : November 5, 2022
Gametime: 6:00 p.m. CT
TV: Fox Sports 1
What’s at Stake: Here we are again. In the first game after losing another double digit second half lead, this time at Oklahoma State, the Longhorns will face off against No. 13 Kansas State. In a story Longhorn fans have heard repeatedly over the last few years, this game represents a chance for Texas to prove they belong in conversations about the best teams in the Big 12.
When the Longhorns have the ball: The biggest issue facing the Longhorns’ offense is consistency. In order to defeat the Wildcats, Texas must get a more settled and accurate performance from starting quarterback Quinn Ewers. Against Louisiana-Monroe and archrival Oklahoma, Ewers showed tremendous talent. This gave Texas fans a glimpse into what is possible when you combine the powerful running game, imaginative play design, and high-level quarterback play. When all those elements align, Texas is almost unstoppable.
However, in the last two games, Ewers has struggled with accuracy and the Texas offense has suffered in consequence. Against Iowa State, Texas was bailed out by Cyclone turnovers. With that, the inability to convert third downs and complete key passes cost the Longhorns the game against Oklahoma State.
The Kansas State defense is ranked number two in the Big 12 in points and total yards allowed. They are coming off a sterling performance, shutting out the high-flying Oklahoma State offense, and allowing only 218 yards. To say this defense will be a challenge is an understatement.
The Texas running game has proven potent against all opponents so far, but consistency from the passing game will be necessary to keep the Wildcat defense off balance. If the Longhorns cannot make plays in the passing game, Kansas State will load up to stop the run and Texas will be in trouble.
When Kansas State has the ball: The Kansas State offense presents a unique problem in that they have the capability to produce radically different attacks. Nebraska transfer Adrian Maritnez can create nightmares with his scrambling and running ability. Martinez is second on the team with 565 yards and nine touchdowns rushing. However, Martinez has been injured and did not play last week against Oklahoma State. In his absence, Will Howard has stepped in where last week, he threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns. With Martinez’s status for Saturday unknown, the Longhorn defense must prepare for both possibilities.
To add to the worries presented by the Wildcat quarterback situation, Texas must also deal with talented Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn. Last week, Vaughn posted 158 rushing yards against Oklahoma State, and he is less than 100 yards away from 1,000 on the season.
The Texas defense has developed into a solid unit, ranking third in the Big 12 in total yards, rushing yards, and points allowed. While the Horns’ defense is not yet an elite unit that can win games on its own, strong performances from DeMarvion Overshown and Ryan Watts have vastly improved the unit from years past. Linebacker Jaylon Ford is the Big 12 leading tackler and Texas might feature the most athletic front that Kansas State has seen this year.
Key Horns to Watch: The most critical Longhorn in this matchup will be Quinn Ewers. If his erratic play continues, Texas will have very little chance to win. However, if he can revert to his previous form, Texas should pick up a quality road win.
Running back Bijan Robinson could be a key to getting Ewers back on track. An effective running attack led by Robinson should create space and one-on-one matchups that will allow Texas receivers to get open and give Ewers some easy, confidence-building completions.
The Bottom Line: It will take a complete performance for Texas to defeat the Wildcats, but if Ewers can be effective and the defense can continue to get timely stops, Texas should return to the win column.