Texas Preview

The Jayhawks once again hit the road in conference play, still searching for their first conference win as a road team since October 4, 2008, at Iowa State.

PREGAME

  • Kansas has never beaten Texas in Austin (0-8).
  • Kansas has never beaten a ranked Texas team.
  • Kansas hasn’t defeated an AP Top-25 team since 2010 (Georgia Tech).
  • Kansas hasn’t won a road game against an AP Top-25 team since 2007 (K-State).
  • All-time, Kansas is just 26-170-2 vs AP Top-25 teams, which includes an 8-82 mark as a visitor.
  • So far in 2019, Kansas has the best red-zone defense in the Big 12.
  • Pooka Williams ranks fourth in the NCAA in all-purpose yards per game.
  • For his career, Mike Lee ranks second among active FBS players in solo tackles per game.
  • Hasan Defense is second all-time at KU with 192 interception returns yards (Aqib Talib, 322).
  • KU’s roster features 20 players from the state of Texas.
  • Carter Stanley is 1-1 all-time in two career starts vs Texas.
  • As a head coach, Les Miles is 2-0 as a 21-point underdog (2019 BC, 2002 OU).
  • UT’s football stadium is named after an OU grad.

FIRST DOWN

Both teams are coming off disappointing losses to probably the best team in the conference in Oklahoma (the Jayhawks are actually coming off a bye week). KU’s offense was stymied by the Sooners for most of three quarters, while Texas just couldn’t tackle anyone last week. What does this tell us about the KU-UT matchup? Ok, probably nothing.

SECOND DOWN

Kansas made a change at offensive coordinator 13 days ago, promoting the guy who literally wrote the book on the RPO (Run-Pass Option) offense. Two weeks of practice isn’t going to be enough to fully install everything that I’m sure Dearmon eventually wants to run, but, we should see a vastly different KU offense from here on out. He was reportedly heavily involved in the gameplan for the BC game, where KU put up nearly 8 yards per play and converted more than half of their third-downs. Why the Jayhawks went away from that type of gameplan, we’ll probably never know.

THIRD DOWN

Texas is top-10 in the country in turnover margin at +7, while KU ranks near the bottom (116 out of 130) at -5. As noted multiple times on this very fine website, turnovers are mostly luck. If we can see some regression to the mean from both teams, this game could be closer than prognosticators have indicated.

FOURTH DOWN

S&P+ currently has Texas ranked at #22, with the #5 offense and the #67 defense. Kansas is ranked at #78, with the #72 offense and the #73 defense. S&P+ explicitly claims it is not a resumé tool, but is designed to be predictive and forward-facing. Something it can’t account for? KU’s change at offensive coordinator. UT’s offense should find some success against this KU defense – especially with LB Dru Prox still unavailable – but the Kansas offense should also find some success against this Texas defense.

PREDICTION

So many things will need to go right for Kansas to win this game. The Jayhawks will need to have success on third downs, both offensively and defensively. They’ll probably need a positive turnover margin. And they’ll need the Texas defenders to tackle like they did last week against OU – that is, not at all.

Don’t get me wrong, the Jayhawks have a real chance in this one, and I don’t think it’s as low as the 4% that ESPN’s FPI says. KU’s defense played well against Oklahoma throughout the first half, and the Jayhawks, while not as deep as Texas, are rested and healthier.

I’m excited to see what new OC Brent Dearmon has been able to put together over the past two weeks. I want lots of Pooka Williams in space, and I want to see the ball thrown down the field, which was another area in which KU had success against Oklahoma.

I look for lots of points in this one in a fun, up-and-down game. However, it’s difficult to go all-in and predict a Kansas victory. Give me Texas 41, Kansas 34.

EXTRA POINT

If Kansas pulls the upset, I want at least one penalty for flashing the Horns Down.

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Author:

Mike.Plank