In 2002, I was a young and energetic high school freshman trying to figure out a plethora things in life as I prepared myself to set out into the real world. Why am I bringing up my freshman year of high school? Because 2002 is the last time the Texas Longhorns were able to find a way to knock off Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Purple Wizard, AKA Bill Snyder, has had Texas’ number for some time now and that even extends outside of Manhattan. Last year during a rain storm in Austin, Charlie Strong’s Longhorns were able to pick up the victory over the Wildcats, but the year before that the Longhorns were shut out 23-0 in a road matchup. It’s been one of the more perplexing matchups year in and out for Texas, as they have not beat Kansas State in consecutive years since 2002 and 2003.
This year the Longhorns make their way north again to take on the Wildcats and what appears to be a pretty evenly matched affair. Both teams enter the matchup at 3-3 and are trying to get back to .500 in conference play. Kansas State is coming in fresh off of a loss to Oklahoma in Norman, in which their starting quarterback Jesse Ertz got banged up with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss most of the game. While Ertz is expected to play this weekend, it should be noted that the Wildcat offense has struggled all year long, as it ranks 119th nationally is yards per game. Having Ertz certainly gives the Wildcat offense the best chance to be at its best, but going into the matchup he is completing less than 50% of passes with a TD/INT ratio of 5 to 2.
As for the Longhorns, they enter the matchup coming off of their best defensive performance of the year with a win over Iowa State, in which they held the Cyclone offense to 6 points, 280 total yards and recorded 8 sacks. The Longhorns were able to snap a three game losing streak and also redeemed themselves after an unfathomable loss to Iowa State last year in Ames. Despite the slow offensive start, the Longhorn offense topped 500 yards and true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele threw for just shy of 300 yards and two touchdowns and junior running back D’Onta Foreman topped 100 yards once again as he continues to be the most productive back in the Big 12. The Texas offense will be challenged by Wildcat defense that is only allowing 21 points per game and 343.5 yards game, both of which are well below Texas’ current offensive averages. While the Wildcat defense has surrendered 38 points to Oklahoma and Texas Tech in consecutive weeks, they also held the West Virginia offense to 17 points in a one point loss in Morgantown.
This matchup could prove to be an interesting one considering the different variables involved. Will Ertz be able to tough out four quarters and help the Wildcats extended their home winning streak against Texas? Can Buechele and Texas offense continue to find success and break the Manhattan curse? Can the Texas defense put together another solid performance and sustain some confidence down the home stretch after a rough start? A win for the Longhorns or the Wildcats puts them a step closer to gaining bowl eligibility, but both will still have work to do down the home stretch regardless of the outcome. It’s not the sexiest matchup on the docket for the early Saturday slate, but this should be a pretty competitive game and provides some storylines that I will be keeping an eye on for sure.