It would take some serious voodoo for the 2006 Wildcats to pull the shocker against No. 3/4 Texas. First-year coach Ron Prince has done yeoman's work by taking a program that most picked dead last in the Big 12 North and manufacturing a bowl-eligible 6-4 team. But his team is loaded with underclassmen and walk-ons. K-State's defense is mediocre (No. 59 nationally) and the offense is worse (No. 78). QB Josh Freeman has breathed new life into the Wildcats, replacing senior Dylan Meier at mid-season. A prominent story line this week is Saturday's contest represents a showdown between two freshman QBs. But Freeman is no Colt McCoy. The K-State signalcaller has thrown just three TDs against nine INTs, while McCoy is No. 2 nationally in passing efficiency. McCoy is almost more of a running threat than Freeman. Sure, it could be an ugly game if Texas fails to match K-State's level of focus and energy (which should be off the charts) or if the Horns are overly concerned with BCS style-points. Texas coach Mack Brown said his team is treating each game as if it was a one-game playoff toward the conference and national championship games. Texas, of course, can punch its ticket to the Big 12 championship with a win in Manhattan.
"The pieces are starting to come together," Brown said.
And a team that's won two of the past three weeks in Lincoln and Lubbock shouldn't fall to pieces in the Little Apple. Texas 41, Kansas State 14.
Ross Lucksinger, InsideTexas.com Editor -- The BCS computers have not been friendly to the Texas Longhorns as of late, but the pollsters have. This actually goes against conventional wisdom, because Texas, although with only a single loss, has pulled out some very close wins against Big 12 competition in what is generally considered a down year for the conference (that only loss being to No. 1 Ohio State has a little bit to do with it). If the Longhorns can go on the road and thrash Kansas State in the cold, it will be an opportunity for Texas to pick up even more votes than they already will because of Louisvilles loss to Rutgers.
Thats exactly whats going to happen on Saturday.
The Wildcats have eight former or current walk-ons in their starting line-up. Its basically first-year head coach Ron Princes way of shifting things over to his system and putting in the players that best work with his style of football. This team is scrappy, this team is tough, but theyre no where near the Longhorns level of play. Given the weather and the team it is facing, Texas needs to line up in the now-more-frequently-used I formation and run straight over Kansas State. Wildcat QB Josh Freeman has performed well for a freshman, but is still exceptionally mistake prone and the Longhorn D will make sure to take advantage of it.
Expect Kansas State to be aggressive and to see some strange play-calls to throw off Texas, but also expect for it not to matter. Texas 38, Kansas State 10.
Mike Blackwell, Inside Texas Magazine Editor -- I have an uneasy feeling about this Kansas State game, and Im not sure why.
Maybe its because the pieces appear to be falling slowly into place for Texas to somehow find itself in the national championship game again this year. The Longhorns escaped Lincoln, and escaped Lubbock, and even Piscataway, N.J., where Rutgers somehow beat Louisville.
Maybe its the cold weather. Maybe its the fact that I saw the movie Capote a few weeks ago, and now Im not sure if good things happen at night in Kansas.
For whatever reason, I think Texas will struggle more than anticipated Saturday night. Prince has the Wildcats playing better than expected, and the Longhorns come into the game feeling deservedly great about themselves following the impressive win against Oklahoma State. Kansas State fans can be rabid, and that will certainly be the case Saturday night.
A win against Texas would be monumental for this program.
Add to the fact the "due theory" (i.e., Colt McCoy is due to have a bad game at SOME point in his career), and you have the makings of an upset.
But I dont feel that uneasy.
Texas will figure out a way to score 21 points, but it wont be easy. The Kansas State offense wont produce much, but at some point the Wildcats will get a turnover or a break of some sort which leads to an easy score, and Texas will spend the rest of the game trying to wrestle the momentum away from the Wildcats and their fans.
This game will be identical to the game in Lincoln, when Texas willed itself a win. The Longhorns will do the same in Manhattan. Texas 21, Kansas State 17.
Michael Pearle, Co-Publisher -- There was a thread on the IT public board last week about trap games. The person who started the thread thought Oklahoma State might be a trap for Texas, while others disagreed. I saw the author's point, but didn't think the Cowboys playing Texas in Austin on national TV, after scaring the Horns bad the last several years, were going to be a trap for Texas. No, for me, that game would be this Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.
Texas came through "Red October" in perfect form knocking off the big guns on the schedule, OU, Nebraska and Texas Tech, before picking up steam into November with the convincing win over OSU. Next up is K-State, but after that? A&M on T+1 in Austin. Meanwhile, back on the banks of the 'ole Raritan Thursday night, Rutgers staged a dramatic comeback victory over Louisville to send the BCS into one-loss chaos, and suddenly, Texas is staring at a realistic possibility of a second straight national championship appearance.
IF, and only if, however, they get by K-State. A loss to the Wildcats and the Horns could still play for the Big 12 title with a win over the Aggies, but a national title shot would be history. After all of the big games Texas has played over the last five weeks, I fear there could be a letdown on the Horns' part as they take the long trip to the chilly plains of Kansas to face unheralded KSU and their true frosh quarterback. With so much now within the Horns' reach, I wonder if there might not be a tendency for Texas to come in a bit unfocused, looking ahead to the Ags and just wanting to get through this one. This is what I call a trap.
But we all know that Texas has become one of the nation's best road teams. It doesn't matter where they go, be it Columbus, Lincoln, College Station or Lubbock, the Horns under Mack Brown have gotten 'er done. After "withstanding the surge" I think they may see from a fired up K-State bent on giving new coach Ron Prince a signature win, the Horns will settle down into a balanced run-pass attack that begins to rack up points as the game wears on. Though 'Cat QB Josh Freeman is a rising talent on a hot streak, Chizik-Akina will find a way to keep him in check. After some early struggles, the Horns will right he ship and keep it pointed towards Glendale, Ariz. Texas 31, Kansas State 17.
Clendon Ross, Co-Publisher -- In predicting a nail-biting 38-35 win for UT over Oklahoma State last week, I wrote, "...the Texas defense for three weeks now has proven quite susceptible to colossal breakdowns. There's no reason to believe that will abate this week." I almost wrote, but certainly implied with that last line, that I had lost faith in Gene Chizik's defense.
Chizik's guys, though, rendered my pick of the Cowboys' score wildly off the mark with perhaps their best performance of the year against what I still believe to be a dangerous Okie State offense. The Longhorn defenders, particularly in the secondary, not only appear to be getting healthier, they also appear to be getting more comfortable with their assignments, eliminating most if not all of the breakdowns which bedeviled them for three weeks.
So to me, this week's game vs. Kansas State boils down to one thing: if the Longhorn defense from mid- to late-October takes the field vs. the Wildcats, we'll be witnessing another fourth quarter barn-burner. If the Texas defense from last week's Oklahoma State game shows up in Manhattan, though, the outcome could be settled in the Horns' favor by halftime.
With my faith in the defense restored, I see the Texas defense limiting a pedestrian Wildcat offense while the steady Longhorn offense methodically grinds it out in the Kansas cold. Texas 37, Kansas State 16.
Pat Culpepper, Special to Inside Texas -- Texas 35, Kansas State 13.
Average of IT Members Picks: Texas 41, Kansas State 14.
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