Keys to the Game

Matt Warden

A war with Bears and the Longhorns are back in the win column of the parody called the Big 12. The Longhorns have shown all the qualities of an elite team this season despite crushing losses to Big 12 rivals Oklahoma and West Virginia. Although a win against the Jayhawks is nearly certain, Texas should do itself a favor by following a distinct game plan.

Pedal to the Metal:
In all likelihood, Texas will score a lot of points against the 1-6 Jayhawks. The Longhorns’ offense is ranked No. 6 in the country, while the Kansas defense is ranked No. 92. If numbers are any indication, Texas should have no problem dispatching the Jayhawks. However, Kansas has proven that if you don’t put it away when its down, it has the ability to make it a game. Against Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks fought tooth and nail, losing 20-14. A team known for its prolific offense, Oklahoma State, went into cruise control and let the Jayhawks stick around in what could have been disaster for an already streaky Cowboy team. While Texas has learned from its missed opportunities against West Virginia and Oklahoma, the fact that Kansas maintained a little resiliency against a tough Cowboys team should warrant some respect. In a game that should be a blowout, the Longhorns need to step on the Jayhawks’ throats when they get them down to establish dominance; dominance in this game and in the Big 12.

Limit Big Plays:
Kansas’ offense is one that could be called lackluster as it currently ranks No. 117 in total offense. Behind the play of an inconsistent signal caller, the Kansas offense has gained most of its recognition through its runners. Kansas ranks No. 49 in rushing yards, buoyed by its two quick and elusive backs in Sims and Pierson, who have shown the ability to make big plays against any team. Both enter this game with over 350 rushing yards and 125 receiving yards, which demonstrates their versatility in the offensive game plan. As the Longhorns have a shown a weakness in their own ability to tackle fast playmakers this season, the Jayhawks will likely enter the game with the mindset of testing this ability. If the Longhorns want to be on the safe side and try to avoid an embarrassing upset, they need to limit the big play ability of Kansas’ backs.

Run the Ball:
The Longhorns have a solid and efficient running game. This is something that has been stated and restated every week this season. Redundant or not, the fact is true and one the Longhorns should own and use to their advantage against an impossible underdog in the Jayhawks. While Kansas is as equally prone to giving up big plays through the air as it is in giving up big plays on the ground, the running game is something that has broken the already shaky defense in every loss this season. Through seven games, the Jayhawks have given up 14 rushing touchdowns and 11 passing touchdowns. Texas’ leading back Joe Bergeron has 14 rushing touchdowns alone this season, which should tell fans all they need to know about where production comes from in the Longhorn offense. If the Longhorns want to kick the Jayhawks while they’re down and establish dominance over a hugely inferior opponent, they should look to play to their biggest strength: running the football.