Texas heads back to Manhattan for a Week 5 battle with the Purple Wizard and Kansas State. Time to win at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
1. How does Texas win in Manhattan (KS) for the first time in 16 years?
Justin: Using Kansas State physicality on the Wildcats. Ground and pound run game, hit Collin and LJH when the opportunity presents itself, and play disciplined, assignment football on defense. It helps that Texas has more talent too.
Joe: Run over a KSU front. It’ll be weird seeing Texas seemingly play KSU’s game (with a lot less single wing running), but that’s the gameplan going into this game. KSU doesn’t have the strength in the trenches on either side of the ball like they have in previous years, so their ability to match up in that regard should work in Texas’ favor.
Eric: Out-talenting K-State while indulging them with a similar program identity. Stop the QB run game and the Wildcats don’t have much of a path to victory.
Scipio Tex: Honestly, it feels like the end of an era in Manhattan. Texas can either deliver the coup de grace or feed a dying program oxygen. Texas has the better team on both sides of the ball. The only potential hickeys are surrendering big plays on special teams, tone deaf offense that doesn’t exploit obvious mismatches, a lack of anticipation for how KSU will play us, and the defense busting multiple assignments from run-pass conflict.
Ian: If Texas plays with the kind of focus they’ve had in the last two weeks they’ll win. You don’t want to come in and gift K-State easy points by making an error on an option play or gifting Dalton Schoen inside leverage up the seam but short of that, this should be pretty straightforward.
2. Most important players on offense and defense this week.
Justin: Offense: Sam Ehlinger. UT can’t make a lot of mistakes, it’s what feeds the Purple Wizard. Defense: Brandon Jones. Keep everything in front. Jones leads the team in tackles (in only 3 games) for a reason.
Joe: RBs and LBs. I believe the OL has proved itself as an improved, though no better than ‘above average’ unit so far this year. Because of that, the RBs have to make sure they get the yardage the OL gives them. This is a KSU defense that knows where to be and when to be there. Tre Watson, Keaontay Ingram, and Daniel Young need to create some yardage. The Texas defensive line has done its job this year, as have the linebackers as a result. That needs to continue. Hager, Omenihu, and Nelson need to continue to do their jobs at the point of attack. I believe they’ll continue to do that, so the onus of stopping Alex Delton in K-State QB run-heavy offense lies upon the LBs. This will be one of their tougher tests assignment-wise.
Eric: Ehlinger and Jones.
Scipio Tex: Offensively, CJ and LJH need to assert themselves physically and force KSU into light or honest boxes that can open up Ingram, Watson and Ehlinger running the ball or create easy match-ups for role players like Duvernay and Moore. A big part of our passing game success is reading coverage and running to grass instead of accepting the safety over top. The O finally showed some feel for this in the TCU game late. It’s time to build on it. Defensively, it comes down to discipline and tackling – specifically at LB and S. We need Brandon Jones, PJ Locke, Chris Brown, Caden Sterns, Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler to play. Play assignments, don’t bust, rally to the football, tackle well in space. There’s no real way forward for the Wildcats on offense if the Horns play smart. Kris Boyd will be targeted. Either play him off and demand that Delton hit throws he’s low efficiency on or have him actually get a jam at the LOS (don’t just stand there and let the receiver dictate the route) with Sterns over top. K-State isn’t good enough to go 15 plays for 80 yards more than once. They need chunk gains.
Ian: On defense, the “wolf of DKR” needs to show that he’s comfortable outside of his normal hunting ranges. If Texas can erase big plays due to steady positioning and tackling from the back end then K-State will struggle to score. On offense, this is a good game for Lil’Jordan Humphrey to dominate because of how vulnerable K-State looks at strong safety and how much they’ll rely on their slot corner (Walter Neil) to help against the run game.
3. Score prediction.
Justin: Texas 27, KSU 20.
Joe: 35-14, Texas
Eric: 34-13, Texas
Scipio Tex: Texas 31, KSU
Ian: Texas, 42, K-State 9
4. Game of the week:
Justin: West Virginia at Texas Tech. There could be 1,000 total yards of offense. And we’ll see how good Tech really is.
Joe: Ohio State at Penn State
Eric: Stanford and ND is my kind of football, but I’m also looking forward to the endurance auto race that is the 24 Hours of Lubbock.
Scipio Tex: Stanford-Notre Dame. Two elite academic schools ranked in the AP Top 10 going at it in South Bend. Sign me up.
Ian: Normally Ohio State’s trips to State College are marked by exciting games, but Notre Dame ended up making the QB switch I anticipated in the preseason turning things over to my cousin Ian Book and their contest with Stanford could be one that creates a LOT of “Notre Dame in the playoffs?” talk. I don’t know if Penn State’s D is ready for Ohio State this year.
5. Upset of the week:
Justin: ND (+5) over Stanford.
Joe: Cal over Oregon but I thought about picking Ole Miss over LSU.
Eric: Lots of interesting lines this week. Give me Louisville over FSU. I haven’t seen the Cardinals but I have seen the Noles plenty.
Scipio Tex: Iowa State +10.5 over TCU.
Ian: Florida +7.5 over Mississippi State. The Gators have been more talented than people think for a few years now and Mullen seems to be finding it fairly easy to finally get that to show on the field in a simpler offensive system.