PREVIEW: K-State wraps up regular season with matchup against Texas

K-State senior defensive back AJ Parker,makes a tackle in the Wildcats' last home matchup against the Longhorns in 2018. (Archive photo by Emily Lenk | Collegian Media Group).

The Kansas State Wildcats square off against the Texas Longhorns to wrap up the season. Even though the Wildcats had plenty of challenges brought on by COVID-19, the team finished the season without postponing a game.

The Wildcats suffered a loss in Waco last week as Baylor rode a 17-point fourth quarter, including a game-winning field goal, to seal a 32-31 victory and hand K-State its fourth straight loss.

The Wildcats emphasize protecting the football, but during the last four games, K-State was outscored 34-7 when it comes to points off turnovers, and they sit at a minus eight in the turnover battle.

Defensively, the Wildcats could get to the quarterback this season and are second in the conference in sacks with 27. Led by junior defensive end Wyatt Hubert, K-State needs to put pressure on Texas senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger.

The all-time series between the Longhorns and the Wildcats is tied at 10 apiece, with Texas currently riding a three-game winning streak over the Wildcats, but each contest since 2016 has been decided by less than six points.

In their last game, the Longhorns kept Iowa State in check but fell short in a 23-20 contest after giving up a late touchdown and then missing a potential game-tying field goal. Texas accumulated 448 yards in the loss and went 4-for-11 on third down.

Texas has the second-best total offense in the Big 12, scoring an average of 37.9 points per contest. Ehlinger propelled the Longhorns to new heights in his tenure at Texas. The star senior leads the conference in touchdowns thrown with 23 on the season and ranks third in passing, averaging 266.5 yards per game. He can beat defenses on the ground as well as he has eight rushing touchdowns so far this season.

Players to Watch

K-State senior tight end Briley Moore has been a key addition to the K-State offense this season. Moore made two receptions last week in the loss to Iowa State, including one that went for 49-yards. He needs to get open for freshman quarterback Will Howard so the K-State offense can succeed.

K-State senior defensive back Jahron McPherson is the team leader in sacks and interceptions. He is the driving force for the defense this season, especially when key players were out because of COVID-19. He will be crucial on Saturday to slow down Texas’s high powered offense.

Longhorn junior wide receiver Brennan Eagles leads the team in receiving yards with 428 yards and five touchdowns this season. He is the likely primary target for Ehlinger against K-State. Eliminating the big play will be crucial for the Wildcats against Texas.

Junior linebacker Juwan Mitchell is the leading tackler for the Longhorns, with 56 tackles on the season. Similar to most teams this season, he will likely be a spy on freshman running back Deuce Vaughn.

The Wildcats are seven-point underdogs, but the spread has been relatively active as the Longhorns were favored by 10.5 earlier in the week. K-State is 7-2 in Manhattan in the series, with Texas winning their first game in Manhattan since 2002 the last time these two teams met up at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 2018.

Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. on Fox. Even though the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for all fall student-athletes, K-State will honor all seniors in a pregame ceremony.