AUSTIN, Texas – Kansas State got more respect from the College Football Playoff committee than it did from the coaches this week, coming in at No. 16 in the first CFP rankings released on Tuesday while sitting at No. 22 in the Coaches Poll. Unranked in both was Texas, which will be trying to bounce back from another tough loss when it hosts the Wildcats on Saturday.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Texas -7
Kansas State made a big statement with its 48-41 win over Oklahoma on Oct. 26 and avoided a letdown with a 38-10 victory at Kansas last week to extend its winning streak to three straight following a pair of losses to begin Big 12 play. "I just think our guys are getting better as the weeks have gone on," Wildcats coach Chris Klieman told reporters. "That's what we talked about even back in here when we were in September, is we really believe the longer they're in these systems, offensively and defensively - our players as well as our coaches knowing our personnel - that we're going to continue to improve. Now it's just kind of the next game up. It's another big game." The Longhorns got last week off to assess what went wrong in the last three games, which includes a pair of losses sandwiched around a 50-48 home win over Kansas. Texas allowed an average of 505 yards in the three games but is expected to get several injured players back after the bye, including safeties B.J. Foster and Caden Sterns.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (6-2, 3-2 Big 12)
The Wildcats rushed for 342 yards in last week’s 38-10 drubbing of Kansas, with quarterback Skylar Thompson’s 127 yards and three TDs on the ground leading the way. Thompson owns eight rushing scores during the three-game winning streak, but Kansas State isn’t counting on the rushing yards coming as easily this weekend. “We’ll have our hands full making sure that we protect Skylar (Thompson),” Klieman told reporters. “We have to be able to run the football some. Are they going to allow us to rush the football like we did last week? Probably not. So, we have to find some ways to be creative and be efficient in the passing game.”
ABOUT TEXAS (5-3, 3-2)
Keeping the Longhorns in games while the defense struggles is the offense led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who was named a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is given annually to the player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. Ehlinger’s achievements on the field include 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions, though four of those picks came in last week’s 37-27 setback at TCU. Ehlinger could have another weapon available on offense in freshman running back Jordan Whittington, who suffered a groin injury in the season opener but is back at practice and probable for Saturday.
1. Texas WR Devin Duvernay owns 16 catches for 283 yards and three TDs in the last two games.
2. Kansas State DB AJ Parker (ankle) is not expected to play Saturday.
3. The Longhorns took the last two meetings, including a 19-14 victory at the Wildcats last season.
PREDICTION: Texas 30, Kansas State 24