No. 18 Texas is on the rise after two big wins against ranked opponents, but recent history reminds the Longhorns that it can all come crashing down Saturday at Kansas State.
The Longhorns (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) have not won in Manhattan since 2002 and are 1-7 all-time at Snyder Family Stadium. Buoyed by its success against No. 22 USC and No. 17 TCU — its first back-to-back wins against ranked teams since 2008 — Texas is poised and primed to change its luck.
Not so fast, said Longhorns coach Tom Herman.
“I told our team, ‘They’re not going to spot us seven points in Manhattan because we beat TCU,’” Herman said Monday. “Can we take the lessons that we’ve learned, both from a football standpoint and a psychological standpoint from the last couple of weeks? Certainly.
“But what happened against TCU, what happened against USC, for that matter what happened against Maryland, is inconsequential to how we play and how Kansas State plays against us in Manhattan.”
Starting with a Sept. 8 victory over Tulsa, the Longhorns have won three straight for the first time since 2014. Confidence is building for the team and its sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score against the Horned Frogs last week.
“It’s great overall just having confidence in what we’re doing and having confidence in everyone around me,” Ehlinger said. “But it won’t really affect how we approach the week. … We can’t let it get in the way of our progression and our development.”
Kansas State (2-2, 0-1) heads home after getting whipped at No. 12 West Virginia last week, 35-6. The Wildcats surrendered 464 yards of total offense and five TD passes, the most they had allowed in a game since 2016.
The KSU offense faltered as well, totaling just 318 yards and converting only 3 of 14 third downs. Its six points came from two field goals by sophomore Blake Lynch.
The Wildcats trailed 21-0 at halftime after opening the door for West Virginia on a failed fourth-and-2 play from their own 42. After the game, venerable Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was still upset over not converting that first down.
“I went in the locker room and I accepted the responsibility for being behind in the ballgame at the halftime with our players, because there were two touchdowns following that,” Snyder said. “But I can’t coach a team that can’t get six inches on a play.”
While Texas is ascending, Kansas State is struggling, and doing so uncharacteristically.
Its first win this season was against FCS powerhouse South Dakota, and the Wildcats needed a rally from 12 points down in the fourth quarter. The other was against UTSA.
But if there’s ever been a time for the Wildcats to turn it around, history says it will likely come against the Longhorns.
–Steve Habel (@Steve Habel), Field Level Media