Texas is through with its tough four-game stretch to start conference play and now travels to Lawrence, Kan., to play the 1-6 Kansas Jayhawks.
Manny Diaz's defense gets a break from the high-scoring Big 12 teams Saturday morning against a Kansas team averaging just 10 points per conference game.
It's been almost 75 years since the last time the Longhorns lost to KU, but Texas enters this game with a million questions on defense, and will face a Jayhawk team whose one strength matches up well with Texas' biggest weakness.
Will it be enough to give Kansas the biggest upset in the Big 12 this season?
I suspect the Horns will have a slight let down this week for a few reasons. 1. The last five games have been at Ole Miss, at Oklahoma State, West Virginia, OU in the Cotton Bowl and Baylor at home; the Horns have had no breather in the group. 2. KU is one of only a few teams that Texas beat soundly a year ago so the Horns' young team doesn't necessarily feel like they have anything to prove. The team needs to play with a chip on its shoulder and I'm just not sure they'll have it against the Jayhawks. 3. The Longhorns are good on offense but I think they're slightly over-rated on that side of the ball. 4. Texas is mediocre on defense. 5. Kansas has a good runner in James Sims and is now starting a fairly athletic quarterback who could pose problems running the ball. Mix it all together and I just think there's a recipe for a let down. I'm just not sure how big it will be.
Texas 34, Kansas 27
This game is pivotal for Texas for one reason: it's the last chance the Longhorns have to put together a dominating performance before a tough four-game stretch to end the regular season. Yes, Kansas poses some challenges with its run game and with the fact that they'll be a well-coached team. But let's face it, Kansas hasn't beat an FBS team this season. Kansas' offense is inept, and its defense is porous. If the Longhorns don't curb-stomp the Jayhawks, then this program has much bigger issues they might appear to already have.
Texas 56, Kansas 10
Throughout the week I've gotten a weird feeling about this game, but every time that feeling has come I've reminded myself that this is Kansas. Kansas. I fully expect the Jayhawks to run it a ton to A) Take advantage of Texas' biggest weakness on defense and B) Milk the clock and keep Texas' offense on the sideline. However, without a real threat in the passing game, I expect the Horns to fare well enough against the run to prevent the Jayhawks from dictating the pace of the game. And I also expect the Texas offense to score with relative ease against a defense that's been pounded both through the air or on the ground at various times this season. The 11 a.m. kickoff is worrisome, but at the end of the day I like Texas' chances against a redshirt freshman quarterback (who's not as good as J.W. Walsh) and a team with a league-worst minus-26-point average scoring differential through four conference games.
Texas 41, Kansas 21
This is one of those very interesting games. Texas is much more talented than Kansas. Kansas, while 1-6 and without a win over an FBS team in 2012, has less turmoil and major season-defining issues. Neither team comes into Saturday with much confidence, other than the Longhorns offensive skill players and punter. It's easy to look at the Oklahoma blowout win last week and come to the conclusion that Texas should win easily, but Kansas is an improved defense this season holding TCU and Oklahoma State to 20 points at home this year, and Texas is obviously much closer to those two than the Sooners. If this isn't a fourth-quarter game, I will be mildly surprised.
Texas 30, Kansas 20
Obviously this is the game I feel the most comfortable about in conference play and for good reason. Kansas just simply isn’t that good. Sure the Jayhawks have a couple of bright spots, mainly star running back James Sims, who has rushed for over 100 yards per game the last four games. And sure, this may cause problems for Texas’ horrible defense, which has given up over 200 yards per game on the ground. But still, one player doesn’t make a team and especially not when it comes to Kansas. I look for the Horns’ offense to have another day filled with padding stats and having an excellent chance for younger playmakers to see some meaningful playing time. The Longhorns haven’t lost to Kansas in football since before World War II and that won't change this year. I like Texas here and I like them big.
Texas 52, Kansas 17