LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 11 Texas takes to the road for its regular-season finale as it visits Kansas on Friday. And there’s plenty at stake for the Longhorns, who will secure a berth in the Big 12 Championship game with a win over the last-place Jayhawks.
TV: Noon ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Texas -15
Texas enters Friday tied with West Virginia for second place in the Big 12 at 6-2, one game behind 7-1 Oklahoma. And since the Longhorns beat the Sooners 48-45 on Oct. 6, the loser of Friday's Oklahoma-West Virginia matchup automatically will be eliminated from title-game contention with a win by Texas in Lawrence. The Longhorns, however, may have to play without starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who left Saturday’s win over Iowa State in the second quarter after aggravating the AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder. Ehlinger, who initially injured the shoulder Oct. 13 against Baylor, will attempt to throw in practice this week, and if he can’t play on Friday, experienced junior backup Shane Buechele will get the call.
ABOUT TEXAS (8-3, 6-2 Big 12)
Ehlinger has started all 11 games this season, averaging 272.6 yards of total offense while posting a Big 12-best 21-2 passing TD-to-interception ratio and rushing for 10 more scores. Buechele, however, has started 19 contests in nearly three seasons with the Longhorns and completed all 10 of his passes for 89 yards and a TD after replacing Ehlinger in the 24-10 win over the Cyclones. Senior linebacker Gary Johnson (team-high 74 total tackles, including 14 tackles for loss) leads a defense that ranks third in the conference in stopping the run (136.5 yards) but eighth against the pass (264.5 yards).
ABOUT KANSAS (3-8, 1-7)
The Jayhawks are locked into their fourth straight last-place finish in the Big 12, but they envision better days ahead with Sunday’s announcement that former LSU coach Les Miles has been hired and inked to a five-year contract. In the meantime, David Beaty, who is 6-31 in three-plus seasons at Kansas, will finish out the season Friday with his team having lost three straight and seven of eight after a 2-1 start. Freshman tailback Pooka Williams Jr. has been the unquestioned bright spot, ranking second in the conference with 102.2 rushing yards per game after a season-high 252-yard, two-TD effort in Saturday’s 55-40 loss at Oklahoma.
1. Texas has won 14 of its 15 Big 12 meetings with Kansas, but the lone loss came in its last visit to Lawrence – a 24-21 overtime defeat in 2016.
2. The Longhorns are 4-1 against ranked foes and 4-2 versus unranked teams this season.
3. Kansas has lost 31 straight games against ranked opponents, dating back to a Sept. 11, 2010 win over No. 15 Georgia Tech.
PREDICTION: Texas 36, Kansas 24