Can K-State keep anemic UT offense down?
With each still trying to become bowl eligible, the question Saturday night at 7 is two-fold: Can K-State's offense muster enough punch against UT's stingy defense; and, can the Wildcats' iffy defense hold down a woefully poor Longhorn offense?
To K-State, Texas is still Texas.
Yes, the Longhorns are just 4-4 this year and in fifth place in the Big 12 South with a 2-3 record, but through the eyes of the Wildcats, they are still the team that has won at least 10 games in each of the last nine years.
"I don't think that mystique ever fades. Texas has been good for a long time, and they're good today," said KSU linebacker Blake Slaughter. "Bad things can happen to good teams, but I promise you, this is the best 4-4 team in the nation."
Senior offensive guard Zach Kendall agreed:
"They're better than 4-4. They have a great coach, great players, but like us, they're not playing to their capabilities." Saturday's 7 p.m. kickoff is a contest of one team that can't stop the score versus one team that can't score the ball.
Including Big 12 games only, K-State ranks 10th in the league in total defense allowing 481 yards per game. In three Big 12 losses, the ‘Cats have given up 48, 47 and 24 points. Including Big 12 games only, Texas ranks 10th in scoring offense with 21.4 points per game. In the last five games overall, UT has scored 1, 2, 2, 2 and 1 touchdown with its offense.
Almost as stunning is the fact that Texas' leading rusher is backup tailback Cody Johnson with 282 yards … for the season … or just 40 yards per game with a total of just three touchdowns.
That anemic rushing attack will be going against a K-State ground defense that allowed OSU's Kendall Hunter 143 rush yards last week, Baylor's Jay Finley 250 yards the week before, and NU's Taylor Martinez 242 yards two weeks before that.
While K-State has demonstrated some ability to move the football, the task will be mighty on this game day against a UT defense that leads the Big 12 allowing just 274 yards per game in Big 12 games only, leads the league in pass defense as just 165 yards per game, and ranks third in rushing defense (108).
"You see they have four losses and they might not seem as good on paper as they have been, but just watching them on film, I think they have one of the best defenses in the nation. They're better than Nebraska," said KSU quarterback Carson Coffman. "It's going to be a challenge."
THE DIFFERENCE MAKERS?
1) In Big 12 games only, K-State is a 0.0 in turnover margin with eight take-aways and eight give-aways, while Texas is a -1.0 with seven take-aways to 12 give-aways.
2) In Big 12 games only, K-State ranks sixth in the league in Red Zone scoring (.889), while Texas is 10th (.760). The ‘Cats have scored 15 TDs and one field goal in 18 opportunities, compared to the Longhorns nine TDs and 10 field goals in 25 chances.
3) In Big 12 games only, K-State ranks third in the league with just 40 yards of penalties per game, while Texas is ninth at 71 yards.
UPDATING MR. THOMAS:
In the ninth game of the season, senior Daniel Thomas can tie the school record for fastest rusher to 1,000 yards in a season in terms of games played.
Thomas has 996 yards, which makes for a per-game average of 124.5 yards. That puts him on pace to rush for 1,494 yards, which would rank as the second greatest rushing season in KSU history. That record belongs to Darren Sproles with 1,986 yards in 2003.
Thomas will be facing a Texas rush defense that ranks second in the Big 12 allowing just 119 yards per game. UT has allowed just 11 ground TDs this year while Thomas has scored 10, himself.
IN A FUNK:
KSU's defensive end Brandon Harold has a total of eight tackles in his last four games with no more than three in any game. In addition, viewed as one of the top playmakers on the team, he has no tackles for a loss in the last five games.
UT quarterback Garrett Gilbert has produced no more than two offensive touchdowns in any of the last five Longhorn games. He has completed 59 percent of his passes, but has just six touchdowns to go with nine interceptions.
BY THE NUMBERS: KSU UT
Scoring Offense 31.4 23.4
Scoring Defense 25.6 21.4
Rushing Offense 194 141
Rushing Defense 228 119
Passing Offense 180 227
Passing Defense 210 148
Total Offense 374 386
Fumbles 12-5 12-9
Penalties 42-41 59-65
MORE WILD NUMBERS:
0 – No Texas running back has rushed for 100 yards in a game this year. In fact, UT's single-game high has been 73 yards by Cody Johnson against Nebraska.
2 – Texas has not scored more than two touchdowns in any of its last five games. In four Big 12 games, UT has scored seven TDs. 6-14 – In Big 12 games only, KSU has rushed for 14 scores, while Texas has allowed only six.
The ‘Cats rush for 190 yards per game; the Longhorns allow just 108.
18-10 – Again, in league only, K-State has scored 18 touchdowns (five games) to just 10 for Texas (four games).
This (Nov. 6) is the earliest K-State has ended its home season since 1990 when K-State entertained Iowa State on Nov. 3, before ending its season at Oklahoma and Colorado on the next two Saturdays.