For the Kansas State Wildcats, a once promising season is slowly beginning to slip away. After a 4-0 start, including victories over UCLA and Central Florida, the Wildcats now sit at 5-3 and will be challenged again this Saturday by an equally disappointing Texas Longhorn team on Senior Day in Manhattan. In what can only be described as “odd scheduling”, it’s the final home game of the year as the Wildcats finish with road contests at Missouri, Colorado and North Texas. Obviously, Kansas State needs to find a sixth victory somewhere over the next four weeks, and even that might not be enough. Realistically, the Cats need to find two wins to insure a bowl game and the struggling Longhorns might just give them that opportunity for one of those victories this weekend.
Having lost four out of their last five contests, all of which were at home, Texas has had their share of problems, especially on offense. Averaging 140 yards per game, the Longhorns rank 80th in the country in rush offense and really haven’t found that power running back to compliment QB Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert has thrown for 1788 yards and six touchdowns, but hasn’t shown consistency on a weekly basis. Last year, Texas scored 63% in the red zone, this year that has dropped to 43%. Fortunately for the Longhorns, they are facing a much beleaguered Wildcat defense that’s been shredded over the past month both on the ground and through the air, giving up over 438 yards per game.
On offense, Kansas State is coming off a less-than-spectacular performance against Oklahoma State last week. QB Carson Coffman suffered an ankle injury that limited his abilities in the second half against the Cowboys and the rest of the offense became ineffective along with him. The Wildcats have had to rely heavily on senior RB Daniel Thomas and respective defenses have keyed on him, slowing his performance over the past month. Thomas is still second in the Big 12 in rushing, averaging 125 yards per game and is only four yards from another 1000 yard season, but it hasn’t come easy for him lately. Look for the Longhorns to load up the line against Thomas and force Coffman to test the talented Texas defensive secondary. The Longhorns lead the Big 12 in defense, allowing only 267 yards per game and should be able to take advantage of an injury-filled Wildcat group of wide receivers.
Texas is an undisciplined team and can be prone to committing a lot of penalties. Hopefully for the Wildcats, that trend will continue this week and along with winning the battle on special teams, it could give Kansas State a shot at an upset. Back-up running back William Powell has had a good year returning kickoffs and the Wildcats will need big returns from him to give the offense a short field to work with. In addition, the defense will have to create turnovers and the offense will have to score off those turnovers for Kansas State to pull this one off. It’s a lot to ask for, but if Kansas State can win this battles, they should be able to keep this one within reach and win it with a field goal late in the game.
Kansas State – 24
Texas – 21
About the Author
Written by Chad Craghead
A 1988 graduate from Wichita State University, Chad has followed WSU as well as Kansas State athletics for over 30 years, along with being a lifelong Boston Red Sox and L.A./St. Louis Rams fan.