As much as it might feel like Texas is “back,” the Longhorns still need to get their first road win of the season. The past three wins have been nice, but they have all been at home. Since the Maryland loss on the road, Texas has had the luxury of playing at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, but that won’t be the case this week. The team will have to travel to Manhattan, Kansas, to pull off a second-consecutive Big 12 win. Here are your keys to the game:
Don’t fall into complacency
Let’s face it — Kansas State is like the salad before the main course, which is, in this case, a highly anticipated rendition of the Red River Rivalry. Although the last few weeks have yielded wins over ranked teams, and next week’s game is another opportunity for a statement game, this team cannot look past Kansas State.
Last year, the Wildcats came into Austin and almost snatched a win away from the Longhorns in double overtime. The year before, Kansas State won a close game that could have been the difference in the 2016 team making a bowl game or not. Recent history indicates the game will be another close one and could end Texas’ momentum heading into OU weekend.
If Texas wants to win, it will need to buckle down, move past the last few weeks and and play a strong game from start to finish. While the Wildcats have lost to two ranked team’s this season, it will be up to the Longhorns to prove the third time is not always the charm.
Let the strong QB play continue
In an article earlier this season, sophomore Sam Ehlinger’s issues in crunch time were well documented. Since that article, Ehlinger has proceeded to set records, lead a potent offense and help win two huge games back to back.
Ehlinger has done what no Longhorn quarterback — not Vince Young nor Colt McCoy — has ever done before. Against TCU, Ehlinger became the first Texas quarterback to throw for at least two touchdowns and run for a touchdown in three straight games.
If Ehlinger can continue to produce at a historic rate for the offense, Texas will be hard to stop moving forward into the middle third of the season.
Continue DBU’s return
The secondary absolutely dominated against TCU, picking off sophomore Shawn Robinson twice late in the game to swing momentum in the Longhorns’ direction. In addition to the interceptions, junior safety Brandon Jones recovered a fumble given up by Robinson.
Perhaps the defensive star was freshman Caden Sterns, who has captivated the hearts of the Longhorn faithful this season. Against TCU, Sterns nearly returned an interception for a touchdown, collecting two picks to add to his season total of three.
The Longhorns can make a lot of noise on the national scale over the next few weeks and will need everyone to step up in order to perform up to the standards of a top-20 team. If the secondary can play like it did against TCU and beat up on the Wildcats, Texas should continue to improve its ranking.