Collin Klein

Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy, along with Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. If he wins it, Manziel would become the first freshman to ever win the Heisman.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Johnny Manziel, RS Freshman QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 32-for-44 (73 percent) for 372 yards three TDs and one interception. 12 rushes for 67 yards (5.6 yards per rush) and two TDs.
Season: 273-for-400 (68 percent) for 3419 yards 24 TDs and eight interceptions. 184 rushes for 1181 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and 19 TDs.

Manziel has done what no one else has done since Adrian Peterson in 2004. He is almost assured to become one of the top two in the final Heisman ballot as a freshman. The Heisman Trophy goes to the most outstanding player in the country, but there have always been some unwritten rules. No one besides Archie Griffin has won it twice, freshmen and sophomores don’t win it and defenders aren’t eligible. One of those taboos was snapped five years ago when Time Tebow won the award in his first season as a starter as a sophomore on a 7-5 team. Since then, two additional sophomores have won the award. Manziel could take that one step further to become the first freshman to win the award. If he does, people will then be waiting to see who becomes the first true freshman to win the award.

Manti Te’o, Senior LB, Notre Dame
Last Week: Five tackles and one interception
Season: 101 tackles and seven interceptions

Another taboo could be snapped Saturday. Charles Woodson won the award in 1997 as a defensive back who also saw playing time on special teams. No other player playing exclusively as a defender has won the Heisman. Te’o could change that. While Manziel will be bringing flashiness to the award, Te’o will bring all the values you could want from a collegiate athlete. He is a senior leader of an undefeated team who plays for all the right reasons and represents the game as a high-character guy. Were he the quarterback at Notre Dame, this wouldn’t even be close. Manziel and Klein have put together nice seasons, but Te’o being the complete leader of Notre Dame, one of the most storied programs in the nation, would give him the edge. Why should the fact that he is a linebacker make this any different?

Collin Klein, Senior QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 8-for-14 (57 percent) for 184 yards for one TD and one interception. 23 rushes for 103 yards (4.5 yards per rush) and two TDs.
Season: 180-for-272 (66 percent) for 2490 yards 15 TDs and seven interceptions. 194 rushes for 890 yards (4.6 yards per rush) and 22 TDs.

The one-time Heisman leader has seen his position be split by a freshman and a linebacker. He may be a finalist, but he seems to have fallen to those two as the award ceremony has gotten closer and closer. He led his team to the Fiesta Bowl as Big 12 champions. But he did not lead his team to the national championship. Manziel did not do that either, but he beat one of the teams in it (after appearing to stop them from being in it) and doing it with much more impressive plays. Klein is reliable and has proven his abilities over the past two seasons. But being reliable isn’t enough. He had to be oustanding. And while the team performances often were, he wasn’t. Manziel has been making more exciting highlight plays while Klein has been rushing for two-yard touchdowns. That loss to Baylor put his campaign in a hole that he could not rush out of.

Freshman linebacker Peter Jinkens made his first collegiate start against Iowa State and made six tackles in the Longhorns' 33-17 win over the Cyclones.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

For a guy who was in high school this time last year, Peter Jinkens spent a lot of time in the Kansas State backfield over the weekend.

And he should be spending plenty of time as a starting linebacker as part of a unit that could lead a resurgent Longhorns defense in 2013.

He starred at Dallas Skyline, where junior wide receiver Mike Davis also went to high school, before signing with Texas this February. Now, with Jordan Hicks missing the last nine regular season games with a hip injury, Jinkens is seeing significant playing time and making the most of it.

“He is a very emotional player,” head coach Mack Brown said of Jinkens on Signing Day this year. “He is really fast. He could even play some nickel, outside backer. Great blitzer. Loves to play the game. Very bright young man. Really good in space.”

A day after tweeting “guess who’s starting tomorrow ... ”, Jinkens made six tackles in his first career start during the Longhorns’ 33-7 win over Iowa State. He made four more stops in a 20-13 loss to TCU before making his presence early in Texas’ regular season finale in Manhattan against Kansas State.

On the Wildcats’ first possession, they had a five-yard run by tailback John Hubert and a four-yard run between the tackles by quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein. That set up a 3rd-and-1. Klein handed off to 6-foot-4, 256-pound fullback Braden Wilson. Jenkins met him behind the line of scrimmage, forcing Kansas State to go three-and-out on its opening drive.

Jinkens made five tackles, one of them a sack of Klein, in the 42-24 defeat. At 8-4, Texas has a lot of work to do before trying to bounce back next year. And Jinkens has proven that he can be a piece of a championship puzzle.

Sophomore Tevin Jackson, like Jenkins, began this season as a backup linebacker before cracking the starting lineup. Juniors Demarco Cobbs and Hicks, along with sophomore Steve Edmond, started at linebacker in Texas’ season opener this year. Because of injury, only Edmond starts now.

Jackson has made 23 tackles this year, seven, including a sack, in his last two games.

“Tevin can make a play,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “That’s kind of what’s shown up over the last couple weeks. He’s been able to make some big plays, sacks, tackles for losses. We’re at a point [where] we’re experiencing injuries throughout the year [and] don’t have a lot of linebackers. We have to have a role for everybody.”

Hicks hasn’t played since September and won’t play again until next August. Depending on whether he’s granted a medical redshirt, he could still have two years of eligibility left. Regardless, he’ll be leading a vastly improved group of linebackers next year and be one of the most experienced members of a defense that will be trying to redeem itself from, statistically, one of its worst years in program history.

The future is bright for Texas linebackers.

Printed on Friday, December 7, 2012 as: Bright future ahead for linebackers

Head coach Bob Stoops and his Sooners fell short of a BCS bowl, and will face Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Because of the current BCS format, the Oklahoma Sooners were bumped out of contention for a BCS Bowl game berth despite a 10-2 record and a share of the Big 12 conference title. Oklahoma was considered a favorite to earn an at-large bid to a BCS game, but its hopes were squashed when MAC champion Northern Illinois finished in the Top 16 to earn a berth in the Orange Bowl. Kansas State, which also finished 8-1 in conference play, received the Big 12’s automatic BCS bid thanks to its 24-19 victory over the Sooners on Sept. 22. Oklahoma accepted its bid to play in the Cotton Bowl, where it will take on former conference rival Texas A&M.

Big 12 sets bowl record
Nine of the 10 teams in the Big 12 Conference qualified for bowl games in 2012, setting a new collegiate mark for postseason eligibility. The 90 percent of teams eligible for bowl games is the highest percentage ever in the FBS, and the Big 12 is the only conference this season other than the SEC to send nine teams to a bowl. Only one Big 12 team, Kansas State, earned a bid to a BCS game, but every other team in the conference besides Kansas will play in a postseason bowl. The conference was arguably the strongest in the FBS across the board this season, as Big 12 teams went undefeated against teams that did not qualify for a postseason game. Likewise, Big 12 teams had the highest win percentage in non-conference games, going 26-4.

Klein makes Heisman stand
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein’s Heisman chances took a serious hit when the Wildcats suffered a late-season loss to Baylor, but the senior made a strong case to remain in contention in his final regular season game against Texas. Klein threw for 184 yards and a touchdown against the Longhorns and rushed for another 103 yards and two scores. On the season, Klein has thrown for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 890 yards and 22 touchdowns en route to a conference championship and a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Other finalists for the Heisman include Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who set the SEC mark for all-purpose yards as a freshman this season, andNotre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who has led the Fighting Irish to the BCS Championship game.

Kansas winless in Big 12
For the second consecutive season, the Kansas Jayhawks finished the year winless in conference play. With its loss to West Virginia on Saturday, Kansas finished the year 0-9 against Big 12 opponents and extended its conference losing streak to 21 games. The Jayhawks struggled to move the ball through the air all season and this was a major source of their ineptitude on offense. The play of junior running back James Sims was inspiring, however, as his 10 touchdowns led the team and his 1,013 yards on the ground were good for second in the Big 12.

Printed on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 as: Sooners fall out of BCS after NIU crashes party 

Unanswered questions

                                                                                                                           Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon

MANHATTAN, Kan. — ­­­­Collin Klein took a knee, Kansas State fans rushed onto the field, the Big 12 Championship trophy was lifted and Texas went home. Thirty minutes after the game, a fog descended on Bill Snyder Family Stadium. A thick, impenetrable, unintelligible mass that hung in the air long after any fans hung around.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Texas’ regular season came to an end under such murky conditions.

In a game that meant almost nothing to the Longhorns in terms of standings, they would have finished third in the Big 12 either way, Texas put on a dazzling show of mediocrity in its 42-24 loss to the Wildcats, ending its perfect road record and finishing its regular season with almost as many questions as when it began. Who will start as quarterback? Case McCoy, starting for the first time this season, was brilliant at times and inept at others, throwing an interception on his second pass of the game before beginning a stretch of 17 straight completions, second in school history behind his brother, Colt McCoy. What of the coaches? Recruiting?

Mack Brown is as much an institution as Rick Barnes, as Auggie Garrido, the untouchables as they might be called. He’s not going anywhere. Brown has already cleared the benches with his staff, it would be hard to see him doing it again without putting some of the blame on himself.

Texas will always produce top recruiting classes, but the trend may be shifting. Texas’ top prospect, Ricky-Seals Jones, already de-committed and is heading to the less-glamorous (but much more entertaining) Texas A&M, now the darling of the national media and an emerging force in the Southeastern Conference. The  times are changing and yet a quick glance at this year’s results and the story could be oh-so-different.

Maybe Texas’ defense holds Tavon Austin to one less touchdown in its four-point loss to West Virginia. Maybe one of those David Ash interceptions becomes a touchdown and Texas Christian University goes home with its horned tails under its legs. Maybe Case McCoy gets points on his first drive against K-State, points for Texas instead of gifting a touchdown to the Wildcats on a crucial interception that put them a yard away from a score. Maybe instead of 8-4, a record only one loss better than last year, Texas is 11-1 and  playing in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. “Maybe” could have been asked many times this season, too many times for a program supposedly as powerful as the once mighty Texas. 

What have we learned this season that we hadn’t seen in the past three? Nothing, really. Texas Football, flashes of brilliance among long stretches of mediocrity. Unsure of itself, unsure of its identity, caught in a three-season-long state of flux. “We Are Texas,” the saying goes, though I can imagine that nobody, not even the players, are quite sure what that means anymore.

Why Texas Lost 
Turnovers. Plain and simple this game was lost because of turnovers. The Longhorns played well and did a solid job containing Collin Klein. But the Wildcats scored 21 points off Texas’ three turnovers, with a fourth quarter fumble and interception sealing the game for KSU.

Quarter by Quarter Breakdown 
First: The first quarter started as badly as possible for the Longhorns. On Case McCoy’s second throw of the game he was intercepted by Kansas State cornerback, Nigel Malone, who walked into the end zone for the touchdown, dropping the ball at the end of the play. Then, in a bizarre ruling, the Wildcats’ touchdown was taken away because of his fumble and they were given the ball on the 1-yard line. Klein converted on the next play with a rushing touchdown.
Second: This frame went significantly better for Texas. The defense buckled down and didn’t allow a point in the second quarter. It was McCoy that had the biggest turnaround. He was 9-for-10 in the second, leading the Longhorns on a pair of scoring drives to take a 10-7 halftime lead.
Third: The Longhorns’ defense started to falter in the third. They gave up a pair of touchdowns, and the Wildcats began to move the ball at a nice clip on the ground. Texas scored its touchdown on a two-yard Malcolm Brown run.
Fourth: This quarter was defined by missed opportunities. A three-and-out led to a Kansas State touchdown. Then a missed Nick Jordan field goal cost the Longhorns a chance to get within a score. And a muffed punt return by Quandre Diggs allowed the Wildcats to put the game away with a momentum-swinging touchdown.

By the Numbers 
21: The amount of Kansas State’s points that the Longhorns’ trio of turnovers
resulted in.
3: The amount of Texas points that the Wildcats’ turnover resulted in.
18: The difference in points of turnovers and the difference in the final score.

Stock Down: 
Texas Football: The loss to Kansas State ended the Longhorns regular season at 8-4. It’s the third straight season in which the Longhorns have failed to reach the 10-win barrier.
Texas still has a bowl to look forward to, but as of now, this team doesn’t have a ton to lean on heading into 2013. The offense is once again marred by a quarterback controversy between Case McCoy and David Ash, which will likely stretch into the offseason. The defense continues to show holes, and this group can’t find a way to play a complete game against quality opponents. Without a convincing bowl performance it will be a long offseason in Austin for the Longhorns.

Stock Up 
Malcolm Brown: The often injured running back finally got back into the offensive flow on Saturday after not receiving a carry against TCU. He was effective too. Brown rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown on only seven carries, and added an additional 43 yards receiving. He looked spry and had a burst late in the game, perhaps attributable to his lengthy period of time off as he dealt with an ankle injury. He’s the Longhorns best all-around back and it looks like he’s finally found his role in co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin’s offense.

Printed on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 as: Turnovers problematic again in second straight week

A Kansas State defender tackles quarterback Case McCoy Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas. Despite a promising first half of play, Texascould not handle a second half offensive explosion by KSU. McCoy finished with two touchdowns and an interception.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns’ regular season is now over and, thanks to Kansas State’s finishing touch, they finished with an 8-4 record.

Not exactly the season Texas was hoping for.

Even with a new quarterback at the helm, Texas was unable to do the unthinkable. Kansas State came alive in the second half and defeated Texas 42-24.

Case McCoy started the game with an incompletion and an interception, but then had 17 consecutive completions. He finished with 314 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Collin Klein, hoping to put the finishing touches on his Heisman resume, took advantage of McCoy’s interceptions and scored touchdowns on both following possessions. Klein had two rushing touchdowns, a passing touchdown and an interception in the game.

Klein didn’t have an incredible performance, but he was vital in pulling the Wildcats ahead in the second half.

“I have watched [Klein] for three or four years now and he is so big and unselfish,” head coach Mack Brown said. “He is also hard to tackle, is accurate with his passing game, and that is what makes him such a great player.”

The Longhorns entered the locker room at halftime with a 10-7 lead, but the second half was very different from the first.

“They got a little bit of momentum and got the crowd back into the game, that is just a part of college football,” McCoy said. “As long as we fight, it does not matter what bowl game we go to. We will have a great shot at winning.”

John Hubert’s three rushing touchdowns, one of which was a result of a Quandre Diggs fumble, and Klein’s 9-yard rushing touchdown in the second half put the win out of the Longhorns’ reach.

After holding Kansas State to just 114 total yards in the first half, the Wildcats scored on their first three possessions in the second half. The Wildcats started the third quarter with a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended in a John Hubert 2-yard run into the end zone.

“Basically, they just out-executed us,” safety Adrian Phillips said.  “They did what they were supposed to do, and we did not come out to do our job after halftime. That is why we got hurt.”

The Longhorns knew their running game would need to perform to succeed against the Wildcats, but unfortunately, they only had 99 rushing yards.

After being sidelined with an ankle injury and having limited playing time since his return, Malcolm Brown finally made the return he was hoping for and scored both of the Longhorns’ touchdowns in the second half. He scored on a 2-yard run and on a 9-yard reception. He had seven rushes for 40 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

But it wasn’t enough to respond to the Wildcats’ offensive surge.

“We were sitting there and K-State had just taken the lead and we had been going back and forth, back and forth,” senior guard Mason Walters said . “Our offense had a drive that stalled out. They played good defense on the drive. We just could not get anything going.”

Texas’ three turnovers and struggles down the stretch lost the Longhorns the game and allowed Kansas State to clinch the Big 12 title and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. It also concluded a subpar regular season for the Longhorns.

Printed on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 as: Texas falls to Kansas State

Kansas State players celebrate their 42-24 victory over Texas and their Big 12 Championship.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns’ regular season is now over and, thanks to Kansas State’s finishing touches, they finished with an 8-4 record.

Not exactly the season Texas was hoping for.

Even with Case McCoy at quarterback, Texas couldn’t do the unthinkable.  Kansas State came alive in the second half and defeated Texas 42-24.

McCoy started the game with an incompletion and an interception, but then had 17 consecutive completions. Collin Klein took advantage of McCoy’s mistake and scored on a 1-yard run.

The Texas defense struggled with third downs early in the game, but Adrian Phillips picked off Klein in the end zone. Klein had two rushing touchdowns, a passing touchdown and an interception in the game.

“I have watched him [Klein] for three or four years now and he is so big and unselfish,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He is also hard to tackle, is accurate with his passing game, and that is what makes him such a great player.

After Phillips got the ball for Texas, McCoy threw a shovel pass to freshman Daje Johnson who ran it 70 yards to the ten-yard line.  But, Texas couldn’t get in the end zone and Nick Jordan hit a 37-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.

Thanks to a 27 yard run from Malcolm Brown, Texas took the lead at halftime after McCoy’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Shipley.

But, the second half was much different than the first.

“They got a little bit of momentum and got the crowd back into the game, that is just a part of college football,” McCoy said. “As long as we fight it does not matter what bowl game we go to. We will have a great shot at winning.”

After holding Kansas State to just 114 total yards in the first half, the Wildcats scored on their first three possessions in the second half.  The Wildcats started the third quarter with a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended in a John Hubert 2-yard run into the end zone.

“Basically, they just out-executed us,” said safety Adrian Phillips. “They did what they were supposed to do, and we did not come out to do our job after halftime. That is why we got hurt.”

The Longhorns responded with a drive that included a 46-yard rush from D.J. Monroe.  Malcolm Brown scored a 2-yard touchdown to make the score 17-14.

Hubert’s second touchdown of the game gave the Wildcats a lead that they never surrendered. They pulled away from Texas when Collin Klein’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett put them up 28-17.  A muffed punt return by Quandre Diggs gave the Wildcats possession and Hubert scored his third touchdown of the game.

McCoy was picked off for the second time of the game and Allen Chapman returned it to the Texas 10-yard line.  Two plays later, Klein scored his second rushing touchdown of the game.

“We were sitting there and K-State had just taken the lead and we had been going back and forth, back and forth,” said senior guard Mason Walters. “Our offense had a drive that stalled out. They played good defense on the drive. We just could not get anything going.”

Brown had his first career touchdown reception of his career to finish scoring in the game.

Turnovers and struggles down the stretch lost the Longhorns the game and allowed Kansas State clinch the Big 12 title. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Texas could not have asked for a worse start, but the Longhorns rebounded well to enter halftime with a 10-7 lead over Kansas State.

On Case McCoy’s second pass of the contest he threw an interception on a short curl route. The corner read the route the whole time and jumped it, which resulted in him walking in the end zone. It was originally called a touchdown, but Kansas State corner Nigel Malone dropped the ball just short of the end zone in celebration, giving Kansas State the ball on the one-yard line. It didn’t take the Wildcats long to score despite the blunder. Collin Klein punched the ball in on the very next snap.

From there things got considerably better for the Longhorns.

After the interception McCoy didn’t miss a pass until the last minute of the second quarter. He led the Longhorns on a trio of drives, two of which resulted in a score. The touchdown came on a brilliant play call in the red zone by co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. He spread the field with four-wide streak pattern, allowing McCoy to place the ball on the inside of the corner and safety for a Jaxon Shipley touchdown.

McCoy finished the half 17-for-20 for 204 yards and a touchdown. He was one completion short of tying the Texas records for consecutive completions.

As impressive as McCoy was, the defense was better.

They contained a Kansas State offense led by Heisman candidate, Klein, and held the Wildcats to just 114 yards. Klein could never break containment for a big run and the offense, besides a pair of long passes, did an excellent job against the passing attack.

Since transfering from Miami, Arthur Brown has been a cornerstone of the Kansas State defense. He leads a unit that leads the Big 12 in scoring defense.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Collin Klein- If not for a loss at Baylor, quarterback Collin Klein would still be the Heisman frontrunner as his team prepared for a bid in the national championship. Despite rushing for one touchdown, and passing for two more in the loss, Klein’s season-high three interceptions showed that even great players can have bad games. Klein is a dual-threat quarterback comparable to Tim Tebow at the college level.He has passed for 2,311 yards with 14 touchdowns while completing 67-percent of his passes. These numbers indicate that when he needs to throw the football he is capable of putting up solid numbers. However, Klein is heralded for his ability to punish defenders carrying the football. He has rushed for 20 touchdowns while maintaining an average of 4.6 yards per carry. Still a guy in the running for the Heisman, Klein is a signal caller similar to what the Longhorns faced against Geno Smith.

The Longhorns will need to limit his ability running the football and pressure him into bad throws like the Baylor defense did in its win over the Wildcats.Klein is the main player that Texas needs to beware of in this game.

John Hubert- A player similar to the speedsters that Texas has seen all season long, John Hubert can beat the Longhorns if they aren’t careful. The junior running back stands 5-foot-7 and weighs 191 pounds, making him one of the smaller backs in the country. Hubert uses his speed and elusiveness to pick up yards, and shouldn’t be overlooked because of his stature. Hubert has rushed for 831 yards this season while maintaining an impressive 5.3 rush per carry average. Averaging just over 14 carries per game, the diminutive rusher has shown an ability to carry the load on the ground even with a mobile quarterback under center. He won’t run many defenders over, which is good news for the Longhorns, but his speed is similar to many players the Longhorns have seen already this season. Texas needs to keep their eyes on Hubert and keep him from breaking off big runs.

Arthur Brown- The senior linebacker is recognized as one of the best in the country with his ability to play in coverage and get to the ball carrier at will. Brown, who transferred from Miami after his sophomore season, is a guy that just makes plays. He leads the team in tackles this season with 80, and boasts two interceptions to his name. Brown is a big outside linebacker at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, which showcases his strength to go along with the speed that makes him a nightmare for opposing ball carriers. The Longhorns should look to keep Brown blocked on every play and prevent him from wrapping up rushers.

Meshak Williams- A player with a similar effect on the game as Arthur Brown, Williams does most of his work in the trenches. The senior defensive end has racked up impressive numbers this season, showing his ability to clog up running lanes and rush the passer relentlessly. His 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks both lead his team and make Williams one who must be blocked to allow the Longhorns to establish their running game. He’s big and fast and can get by defenders if they sleep on him. While Arthur Brown is the most heralded of the Wildcat defenders, Williams is the guy that the Longhorns cannot afford to ignore if they want to have a successful day on offense.

Collin Klein was the Heisman favorite for much of the season before the Wildcats were upset by Baylor two weeks ago. The senior is still in the midst of a dynamic season, as he has thrown for 2,306 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for 787 yards and 20 scores. Texas has less certainty at the position, as Case McCoy will make his first start of the season for the Longhorns. The Texas offense was able to move the ball more effectively after McCoy replaced David Ash in the Longhorns’ loss to TCU on Thanksgiving, but the junior threw a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter that ended a potential comeback. Overall, McCoy has thrown for 408 yards and 4 touchdowns in limited playing time this season.

Advantage: Kansas State

Running backs
The Wildcats have benefitted greatly from the emergence of John Hubert in the backfield, as the junior has become a dependable every-down back who  complements the passing game well. Hubert has 826 yards on the ground on 158 carries, and his 12 rushing touchdowns are second on the team behind Klein. The Texas running back unit has consisted of a rotation of solid backs, but Johnathan Gray is becoming the feature back on early downs. The standout freshman leads the team with 654 yards rushing. Joe Bergeron is also enjoying a nice season, as he has gained 562 rushing yards and scored a team-leading 16 touchdowns. The Wildcats’ rushing attack could be primed for a big game against an inconsistent Texas run defense, but the Longhorn’s depth in the backfield gives them the edge at the running back position.

Advantage: Texas

Wide Receivers
The starting duo of Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley has been dynamic through 11 games for Texas and is a large part of why the Longhorns have been an improved passing team this year. Davis leads the team with 51 receptions, 891 yards and seven touchdowns, while Shipley has also been very productive in hauling in 46 passes for 581 yards and five scores. Kansas State has also had strong play from its receiving unit, with three wideouts notching at least 491 yards through the air. No one has caught more than four touchdowns for the Wildcats, and none of them have matched Davis’ totals in yards or receptions.

Advantage: Texas

Offensive Line
Neither team has many qualms with the play of their offense lines, as Texas and Kansas State have two of the better offenses in college football thanks to strong pass- and run-blocking. The Wildcats have been the more efficient team this season, as they have averaged 5.0 yards per rush and 13.3 yards per reception compared to the Longhorn’s totals of 4.7 per carry and 13.0 yards per catch. Collin Klein’s ability to register gaudy passing and rushing numbers has been due to the protection and time given to him by his offensive line. The Wildcats have allowed 12 sacks this year, two more than what Texas has given up, but overall their offensive line has been the superior unit.

Advantage: Kansas State

Defensive Line
Texas has done a good job of generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season, as it has recorded 24 sacks for 153 yards lost. Defensive end Alex Okafor has played well, but the line as a whole has not been perfect. The interior linemen have struggled to stuff the run at times, and this was the case in the Longhorns’ last game, when TCU earned 217 yards on the ground. Kansas State has been even more ferocious in bringing down opposing quarterbacks, as the Wildcats have registered 27 sacks for 174 yards lost. They have also been more consistent in stopping running backs at the line of scrimmage, as they have recorded 65 tackles for loss this season.

Advantage: Kansas State

The Wildcats have one of the better run defenses in the Big 12 and their linebackers’ ability to limit big gains on the ground is a large part of this. Teams are earning just 3.7 yards per carry against Kansas State and as a whole the Wildcats allow an average of just 121 rushing yards per game. This has not been the case for the Longhorns, as teams have averaged 4.9 yards per rush and 201.5 yards on the ground per game against the Texas defense. A major factor of the Longhorn’s ineffectiveness in stopping the run has been due to their linebackers’ injuries and inconsistency. Texas has struggled to tackle all season long and this has allowed players get past the second layer of the Longhorns’ defense more than a few of times.

Advantage: Kansas State

Defensive Backs
The Longhorns’ pass defense has improved as the season has progressed and it is coming off of a game where it allowed 82 yards through the air on 10 pass attempts. Texas is holding opponents to a respectable 216.2 passing yards per game, with 12 interceptions. Kansas State has intercepted more passes with 16, but overall the Wildcats’ secondary is the more vulnerable unit. Teams are averaging 250 yards through the air each game against Kansas State and the Wildcats have allowed opponents to convert 133 first downs on pass completions.

Advantage: Texas

Special Teams
Few teams in college football can match Kansas State’s dynamic return game. The Wildcats are averaging 29.5 yards per return on kickoffs and 22.9 yards per punt return and they have scored three touchdowns on returns. The Longhorns have been solid on returns, averaging 24.0 yards on kicks and 9.9 yards on punts, but they have only scored on touchdown on special teams. The Wildcats also have the stronger kicking unit, as kicker Anthony Cantele has converted on 18-of-21 field goal attempts and has made all 56 of his extra point tries. Texas has improved its place-kicking since reinserting freshman Nick Jordan into the lineup, but overall the Longhorns are just 9-of-15 on field goals and have missed three extra point attempts.
Advantage: Kansas State