Longhorns History: The Purple Menace


The Texas Longhorns have had its share of struggles with Kansas State over the years.

3-11. It is almost stunning to see it in print.  That is the Texas Longhorns record against Kansas State since the two schools became conference mates in 1996.  A 27% winning percentage.  No other school that regularly plays Texas has dominated the Longhorns this way.

It’s not just the wins and losses, either.  Most of those games weren’t close.  K State has not only beaten Texas, they’ve outclassed them and out coached them and at times just beat them up.  It has often gotten downright ugly.  So you can’t blame Texas fans if they are feeling a little apprehensive this week.

As Bill Snyder and his purple menace prepare to invade Austin this weekend, let’s take a look back at the mysterious hold the Wildcats have over Texas.


The first two meetings between the Cats and the Horns were decidedly in K State’s favor.  The Wildcats were at their best at this time. The 98 team came a double OT loss to Texas A&M away from playing for a National Championship.  Meanwhile, Mack Brown was just beginning his renovations in Austin.   The 98 game is notable as the first career start for Major Applewhite and KSU was rather inconsiderate to the young Texas QB, something that would become a bit of a tradition in this series as the Wildcats pounded Texas 48-7

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Without Ricky Williams in 99, Texas improved slightly, only losing 35-17, but K State was still ahead of the Longhorns and won comfortably.  You can hardly blame Brown and his young Horns for these two losses.  They simply weren’t on the Wildcats level yet.


These were the only two years in which both teams were at similar strength.  Brown had firmly reestablished the Longhorns but was still looking to break into the nation’s elite while K State had slipped a little from their late 90s heights but were still talented and dangerous.

The 2002 game in Manhattan was a defensive stalemate that was a difficult game to watch.  It seems games in Manhattan are always ugly.  However, the Horns got their first win in the series by blocking a last second field goal to preserve the 17-14 win.

In 2003, Texas saw a lead vanish late and Brown turned to an unheralded backup quarterback named Vince Young to come off the bench and lead the game winning drive in a 24-20 win.  These were the best two games of the series and through four games; the series was knotted at 2-2.  But things were about to change.

David Ash was the starting quarterback the last time Texas beat Kansas State.Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports


The Wildcats rotated off of Texas’ schedule just in time for Mack’s first Golden Run.  By the time they returned, that Vince guy had become a legend and left for the NFL and Bill Snyder had hung up his whistle and turned the program over to Ron Prince.

The Longhorns entered the 2006 game in Manhattan needing a win to secure a second straight Big XII South title and keep National Championship hopes alive.  K State was going nowhere.  It should have been no problem, but this was K State and the game was in Manhattan.

Colt McCoy injured his shoulder on a first quarter touchdown run and did not return.  Without him, the Texas defense and special teams hemorrhaged huge plays and backup quarterback Jevan Snead couldn’t stem the tide.  Texas played from behind all night.  Though they closed the gap to 45-42 late but the defense couldn’t get the ball back to give Snead a chance to be a hero.  The upset loss killed any hopes of a repeat and when a clearly injured McCoy struggled in a loss to A&M in their next game, Texas saw Oklahoma take the conference title that should have been theirs.

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You would have thought that the Longhorns would have been stirring up a big ole pot of revenge when the Wildcats came to Austin the next year.  That was not the Brown way, however.  Instead, the Longhorns crapped the bed in a 41-21 loss that was at the time the worst home loss of the Brown era.  Again, poor special teams play and poor defense were culprits while McCoy was hammered all day long behind a porous offensive line.  Somehow, Ron Prince, a man who almost singlehandedly destroyed what Snyder built, went 2-0 against Mack Brown and Texas.  Scientists may never solve the mystery of how he did it.


Again, KSU rotated off of the schedule and Texas responded with Mack’s second Golden Run (coincidence?)  By the time they came back, McCoy was gone and Snyder was back to repair the damage Prince had done to his legacy.  Texas was supposed to keep on trucking with The Next Great Texas Quarterback.  K State meanwhile, had struggled and was forced to turn to a glorified fullback named Collin Klein to run their offense.


TNGTQB threw five interceptions in the team’s first nine possessions.  Five.  Klein only threw four passes the entire game for K State.  He didn’t need to throw.  They bulldozed the Texas D while Garrett Gilbert handed out gifts on the other side. The game got so out of hand that when K State muffed the snap on an extra point they ran it in for two.

The 2010 breakdown was in full stride by this point and was clearly illustrated by the fact that Brown never pulled Gilbert for Case McCoy, even though he had already burned McCoy’s redshirt.  Brown’s lame excuse was that by the time McCoy was ready to go in, the offense was responding to Gilbert; they were down 39-0 and playing against second teamers but whatever.  This may have been the lowest of a series of lows in 2010 and demonstrated just how far off the reservation the program had gone.

In 2011, Klein had established himself and K State was bulldozing everyone.  Texas meanwhile was breaking in true freshman QB David Ash and was coming off an U-G-L-Y loss to Missouri.  However, Manny Diaz’s defense stuffed K State all night and kept the game close.  Brown yanked an ineffective Ash for Case McCoy but even his notable moxie wasn’t enough to enable Texas to pull out a win at home, losing 17-13.

The Horns were in trouble before the game even started in 2012.  Klein was trying to make one last push for the Heisman and K State needed a win to secure the Big XII title while Texas was without Ash due to injury.  Texas gutted it out in the first half and played well, but the Wildcats overwhelmed the Longhorns in the second half and coasted home with the 42-24 win.  Much like the 98 and 99 games, K State was just a better team than Texas and proved it.

There Has Been No Escape From The Purple Menance. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 game was fiercely fought.  A Longhorn D that had been so atrocious that it cost Manny Diaz his job responded to new DC Greg Robinson by swarming to the ball all night.  Texas took an early lead and never let K State catch up.  However, the Longhorns lost both Ash and Jordan Hicks to season ending injuries and also lost LB Steve Edmonds to a questionable targeting penalty in the second half.  The 31-21 win propelled Texas.  The Horns went on a winning streak that put them square in the middle of the race for the conference title and gave Mack Brown one last shot of glory before the curtain crashed at the end of the year.

That brings us to last year’s loss in Manhattan.  23-0.  Only the second time Texas has been shut out since 1980.   Last year’s K State loss is just one of many horrendous performances that have marked the first two years of the Charlie Strong era.

Coming off the big upset of Oklahoma, this game marks an opportunity for Texas to not only play their way into serious bowl contention but also to establish some consistency and positive momentum going forward.  Entering a stretch of winnable games in the second half of the season, the Longhorns need to reverse the trend of a series that has seen KSU win six of the last seven meetings.

Just how high this Longhorns team can rise may just be determined by how the Longhorns handle Bill Snyder and his Purple Menace on Saturday.  One thing is for certain: you can expect a much better performance out of K State than the one that put on last week against Oklahoma.  Snyder’s teams just don’t play like that and they will certainly be ready to battle the young Horns.