IT's Kansas Game Picks

IT's Bill Frisbie, Michael Pearle and Clendon Ross give you their picks, and the reasoning behind those picks, in Saturday's game between Texas and Kansas.

Frisbie -- On paper, the Texas-Kansas game unexpectedly shapes up as the irresistible force versus the immovable object.

The Texas offense... is averaging 518 ypg (NCAA No. 4)... is averaging 278.6 rushing yards (No. 3)... is averaging 48. 3 points (No. 2)... is converting 50.4 percent of its third downs... has scored 100 unanswered points... has an average margin of victory of 30.6 points... is deftly operated by the leading Heisman candidate who has had his game face on since Sunday night.

The Kansas defense... ranks first nationally against the run (64.1 ypg)... fifth nationally in total yards (273.9)... has allowed just two rushing TDs this season... is limiting opponents to 26.6 percent of all third-down conversions... still doesn't know if it can stop Vince Young on 4th-and-18.

Any hope that Jayhawk fans might entertain of springing college football's biggest upset of 2005 rests on the program's vastly improved defense, plus whatever swagger the team might bring considering it had Texas on the ropes for 59 minutes and 49 seconds last season in Lawrence.

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

Not that Texas needed any added incentive on Senior Day with a Big 12 South division title at stake but Mack Brown found it last Sunday. That's when he reminded his team of KU Coach Mark Mangino's post-game comments that the Jayhawks "out-coached" and "out-played" the Longhorns and that the Horns escaped Lawrence with the W because the refs were protecting Texas' BCS rating.

You could starch a shirt from the steam coming out of Young's ears this week. When asked to name the last time he was as mad at a team as he now is at Kansas, Young thought about it, and thought about, and thought about it.

"Hmmm," he said.

He honestly couldn't remember the last time he was this mad, before venturing, "I was mad a little bit at Baylor for some of the stuff they were saying."

That "little bit" of motivation, of course, resulted in a 62-0 shellacking.

Not that it was necessary this week. Reserve those seats at Reliant Stadium on December 4! What's that? You did that on the afternoon of October 8? Texas 48, Kansas 6.

Pearle -- On Monday this week, I told Clendon Ross I hoped Mack Brown would remind the team of KU coach Mark Mangino's tirade after last year's 27-23 Texas win, and would post Mangino's comments on the bulletin board. I said I thought Mangino embarrassed Texas with his carping about the refs handing Texas the game because of BCS dollars, and that with Texas battling its way to a BCS berth, the Jayhawk coach made things even tougher for the Horns. I felt these things needed stirring up again in the players' minds to give them an angry edge going into this game, and I didn't think Mack Brown would talk about it in the media because, well, Brown is classy when it comes to opponents, never insulting anybody.

But I needn't have worried.

By Tuesday, the media was all over the story of Texas' on- and off-field leader, Vince Young, throwing down the gauntlet himself. Young accused Mangino of disrespecting Texas. Young said things about Mangino you rarely hear coming from a college athlete, certainly not about the coach of a team they are about to play. Apparently, some real bad blood had been simmering in Young's veins all year. So any hope Kansas had of Texas coming in flat Saturday is long gone. The KU players have their coach to thank for that.

Mangino's frustration on getting flagged for offensive pass interference on a play that would've given KU a first down and an almost certain program-making win is understandable. His team played Texas to the wire and the loss had to hurt bad. But the inexperienced head coach should have checked the stat sheet before blurting out his accusations. Fact is, Texas got flagged 10 times on the day for 103 yards compared to only three flags against Kansas for 23 yards. Sound like a conspiracy to you? Well, yeah, maybe, to keep Texas out of a BCS bowl. Tack on the fact that Texas outgained the Jayhawks that day by almost 250 total yards, 581 to 348, and its obvious that Kansas neither outplayed Texas nor got jobbed by the refs.

So the Horns, and most importantly Vince Young, remember, and they're looking for payback. And that's a good thing, because they need to go into this game wanting to maul KU.

At 5-4, the Jayhawks, after beating Nebraska and Missouri, are feeling good about themselves, and playing great defense. They are fifth nationally in total D, one spot ahead of Texas and, almost unbelievably, are first in the nation against the run. Their pass defense, however, is 46th. So even if Kansas has some success stopping the Texas rushing attack, which I will believe when I see it, the 'Hawks still have to stop the Texas aerial game, and no team has been able to do both this season. As for the KU offense, it ranks 101st in the nation in total O. It's hard to imagine it cracking the Texas defense for too many yards or points.

This game should be a wild one early, with both teams coming out to put some serious licks on each other. We know Texas will be angry, and KU is bound to put up a fight, trying to back up their coach's smack. Don't be surprised if we even see a few brawls in this one.

On the official Kansas athletic website, they are hawking tee-shirts that read "We Shucked the World! -- KU 40, Nebraska 15." If the Jayhawks followed that up with a win over the Longhorns, the school could peddle enough gear to float the entire athletic budget. But it ain't gonna happen. Vince will be his typical dominating self this Saturday, only maybe more so, and his teammates will follow his lead. The Horns will take one more step closer to Pasadena with another blowout victory, and will get a little sweet revenge in the process. Texas 45, Kansas 7.

Ross -- One of the predominant storylines heading into Saturday's Kansas game is the Texas offense vs. the highly-ranked KU defense, and more specifically, the Longhorns' third-ranked rushing attack vs. the top-ranked (in yards per game allowed) Jayhawk rush defense. Interestingly, Texas has already faced three other rushing defenses ranked near the top of the national standings -- OU, Ohio State and Colorado -- so we at least have some previous performance data that might be predictive.

So here goes: vs. the Sooners (No. 2 NCAA), Texas officially rushed 40 times for 203 yards (that total includes two sacks for 14 yards in losses and, of course, Jamaal Charles' 80-yard sprint to the end zone); vs. the Buckeyes (No. 3 NCAA), the Horns rushed 38 times for 112 yards (again, including three sacks, this time for 15 yards in losses); and vs. the Buffaloes (No. 5 NCAA), UT rushed 47 times for 145 yards (no sacks). In aggregate, those numbers total 125 rushes for 460 yards, or an average of 3.68 yards per carry. Not too shabby, but certainly not great. But it's important to note that the Horns two worst rushing performances came vs. OSU (in Charles' second game at tailback) and vs. Colorado (with current co-starters Charles and Ramonce Taylor combining for four rushes).

All this is basically to say that, while Kansas has itself a nice run defense, the Jayhawks will not stop Texas' ground attack. None of the other top defenses the Longhorns have faced have succeeded, and I'm finding it a bit hard to believe that Mark Mangino's run-stop crew is the equal of the group that Texas faced in the 'Shoe in September. Maybe at OU and CU's level. Maybe. (Look at the Kansas schedule to get an idea why the numbers, while impressive in a vacuum, are largely accomplished against a schedule of rushing weaklings, or just weaklings period.) So, the Jayhawks may slow the Horns' run game, but slowing Vince Young, Jamaal Charles and Ramonce Taylor and Co. may mean, oh, let's say 175-to-200 yards gained rather than their average of 278.6 yards per game.

If Texas were one-dimensional, that might mean something.

But there's that little issue that Kansas must also contend with called the Texas passing game. Those three top rushing Ds mentioned above gave up over 280 yards per game to VY and the Horns through the air. Sell out to stop the run, and you might have middling success, but you'll get burned elsewhere. Texas simply has too many weapons for the Jayhawks, or anyone else, to consistently stop. But even suspending disbelief for a moment and assuming Kansas somehow holds the Horns to their lowest point total of the year, say 24 points, it's hard to come up with a scenario where a mediocre at best Kansas offense puts up that many points on Gene Chizik's defense. Sure it could happen -- the Oklahoma State game is the obvious cautionary tale -- but this won't be a repeat of Stillwater. Or Lawrence last year. This will be a repeat of Dallas vs. Oklahoma, and Austin vs. Colorado. Texas 45, Kansas 9.


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