No. 7 Texas football hosting the No. 23 ranked Kansas State Wildcats and head coach Chris Klieman is one of the biggest matchups in a big weekend of Big 12 play on Nov. 4. Texas can stay among the top frontrunners in the race for a spot in the Big 12 Championship if it tops a red-hot Kansas State squad at home this weekend.
If head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns can’t come out of the Kansas State game this weekend with a win, they will fall behind in the Big 12 Championship race. And control of Texas’ destiny in the Big 12 title race will fall out of their hands.
No. 7 Texas football can get off on the right foot in November in Big 12 play with a win over No. 23 Kansas State
The other high-stakes Big 12 matchups this weekend feature the other four of the top six teams in the conference standings. The No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys host the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater on Nov. 4 for the final Bedlam game likely for a long time.
And then, the No. 21 Kansas Jayhawks visit Ames for a matchup against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium to round out this big three-game slate among the top six teams in the Big 12 in Week 10.
Texas is only a slight four-point favorite over Kansas State at home at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Week 10. But this is still a Kansas State squad that has looked vulnerable in a couple of losses on the road this season to the Mizzou Tigers and Oklahoma State.
Here are four reasons why the Longhorns can dominate Kansas State in Week 10 at home.
Texas can ride Jonathon Brooks with the zone ground game against a smaller Kansas State defensive front
The most obvious way the Texas offense can attack the Kansas State defense is on the ground. Kansas State’s undersized defensive front is the spot where Sark and the Longhorns will attack the Wildcats with the zone ground game with redshirt sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks and true freshman CJ Baxter Jr.
Texas has found the most success on offense this season running the zone ground game. Roughly 60 percent of Texas’ rushing attempts and 67 percent of their rushing yards have come on zone run plays.
Texas likes to run the zone ground game with interior offensive linemen DJ Campbell and Jake Majors using their physicality and size to push opposing defensive tackles off the line of scrimmage and then sealing the edges with offensive tackles Kelvin Banks Jr. and Christian Jones. Since pulling guards hasn’t worked too well for the Longhorns in the ground game this season, zone rushing attempts is the most likely course of action against the Kansas State defensive front this weekend.
And there is reason to believe that the Longhorns will succeed on the ground with zone blocking schemes. Texas is much bigger in the trenches on offense than Kansas State is, with their three-down front and crashing linebackers.
Kansas State lost some key pieces up front during the offseason, including NFL first-round pick defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah and NFL defensive tackle Eli Huggins. They replaced those two defensive linemen integral to Kansas State’s success in the Big 12 last season with a couple of smaller and less productive players.
First-year starting nose tackle Uso Seumalo has a lot of size, anchoring the defensive line at 6-foot-3 and 340-pounds.
But he has struggled to get off blocks and make a sizable impact on K-State’s run defense or the interior pass rush this season. Despite starting seven games for Kansas State at nose tackle this season, Seumalo has made a minimal impact in run defense. He has a run stop percentage of 4.0, the fourth-lowest among starting interior defensive linemen in the Big 12.
At defensive end, Kansas State replaced Anudike-Uzomah with a converted linebacker in the 6-foot-4 and 245-pound Khalid Duke. While Duke is a quicker edge player who can close on opposing quarterbacks in the pass rush with a quick first step and a good arsenal of pass rush moves, he’s also had a minimal impact on Kansas State’s efforts defending the run.
Duke grades out in the middle of the pack among starting Big 12 edge rushers in run defense this season. His smaller size leads him to get overpowered against bigger blocking tight ends and offensive tackles sealing the edge against the run. He’s had three tackle attempts broken off by opposing running backs as a result this season.
Mott has also struggled in run defense this season, grading out among the five worst starting Big 12 edge rushers/defensive ends.
Kansas State’s lack of size and productive players up front has caused them to struggle against the run against Power Five opposition. The Wildcats are one of just five teams in the Big 12 allowing over five yards per carry against Power Five teams this season.
Even better for Brooks and the Longhorns is that Kansas State hasn’t done well against zone rushing attacks. Kansas State is tied with the West Virginia Mountaineers for allowing the most yards per carry against zone rushing attempts this season at a clip of nearly six YPC.
Texas can easily win some of these battles up front to move Kansas State’s starting defensive linemen and edge players off the line of scrimmage. If Texas’ O-Line and blocking tight ends can climb to the second and third levels of the defense to seal off Kansas State’s crashing linebackers, Brooks and Baxter will have many open lanes to hit this weekend for big gains.