Texas-KSU: A Must-Win For Both Teams

Forget about Oklahoma. The most critical game No. 8 Texas will play all season is set for 6 p.m. (CDT) at No. 17 (AP) Kansas State. If Texas wins, it resuscitates the Horns' season-long aspirations that were placed on life support last weekend. Otherwise, the party’s over just three weeks into league play.

With one loss a piece, both teams are fighting to stay alive in their respective divisions. One more setback, and both squads can start thinking about spending the post-season at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio (Alamo Bowl) rather than the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. That is, if either one of them can still think about the national championship picture at all.

"Beating Kansas State is more important than the national title hunt," head coach Mack Brown said.


Both teams absolutely must win Saturday. Only one can.

Two losses in Big 12 play means no (realistic) shot at the league title, and with No. 9 Iowa State coming to Austin Oct. 26 followed by a road trip to Nebraska (site of the nation’s longest home win streak), the losses could steamroll and the season could quickly have a John Mackovic-ian pall cast upon it.

The good news is a Mack Brown Texas team has never lost the week after playing Oklahoma and has won 10 consecutive road games (not counting those dreadful neutral sites). The Horns typically find a way to win after a crushing loss, and the last time Texas lost back-to-back regular season games was when a freckled face redshirt freshman named Major Applewhite was making his first career start in the Burnt Orange. Unfortunately, that was a 48-7 loss at Kansas State.

The bad news is KSU’s defense is just as good as Oklahoma’s and the Wildcats are the only Big 12 team Texas has yet to beat since formation of the league in 1996. There were four previous meetings between the squads, but you would have to go back to 1942 to find the most recent one (a 64-0 Texas win in Austin). The overall series is tied 3-3, with K-State taking the last one in 1999 (a 35-17 decision in Austin).

The Wildcats are among the nation’s leaders in nearly every defensive category and the offense is second in the nation in scoring and, despite a No. 96 ranking in passing yardage per game, is No. 1 overall in pass efficiency. In short, the team can be pronounced fully recovered from its 6-6 injury-plagued campaign last season.

The Wildcats most impressive win to date is a 27-20 home victory against No. 19 USC and K-State is awfully, awfully close to being undefeated. The four deep passes that Colorado hit against Kansas State was the difference in the Buffs' 35-31 victory at Boulder.

"Otherwise they’re 5-0," Brown said. "There was 280 yards of passing given up on four passes. They’re one of the best teams in the country, but would be in the Top Five probably if they were undefeated."

The Wildcats swagger into this game while Texas staggers into it. While the Horns were losing their third straight to the Sooners, KSU was slapping around the same Oklahoma State team, 44-9, that had Texas on the ropes the week before.

"If you look at our game against Oklahoma State and look at their game against Oklahoma State, they’re not close," Brown said "They (KSU) lined up and dominated the game. They totally dominated them. There’s nothing to even be compared."

The Wildcats forced five Cowboy turnovers while junior QB Ell Roberson registered four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) and passed for a season-best 202 yards.

Brown has also spent part of the week praising KSU head coach Bill Snyder, who has directed one of the most amazing turnarounds in college football history. In his 14th season, Snyder has engineered 110 victories at the Little Apple. Before his arrival, it took Kansas State 45 seasons (1944-1988) to total 100 wins.

By the way, Brown and Snyder have identical coaching records (110-40-1) since 1990.

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