The numbers have been thrown around all week long – Kansas State has a five-game winning streak against Texas, who hasn’t beaten the Wildcats in a decade. Mack Brown is 2-7 against them and the Longhorns are 5-8 all-time against K-State, their worst record against any team they’ve faced at least 13 times.
“Kansas State has our number,” linebacker Jordan Hicks admitted this week.
But there’s one common thread in all of those very telling statistics – Texas’ inability to win the final minute of the first half.
It’s something that hasn’t just plagued the Longhorns against Kansas State during Brown’s 16-year tenure but also in their last two games, losses to BYU and Ole Miss. The Cougars hit a field goal with four seconds left in the first half to take a 27-14 halftime lead on their way toward beating Texas, 40-19.
Last weekend, Anthony Fera nailed a career-long 47-yard field goal with 39 seconds remaining in the second quarter before a targeting penalty against Adrian Phillips put the Rebels in position to put a 52-yard field goal through. The kick trimmed Texas’ lead to 23-17 going into the locker room as Ole Miss went on to score 27 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 44-23 victory.
“If you give up points right before the half, it’s a killer,” head coach Mack Brown said. “You’ve got to back and take your momentum back in the second half. That is an age-old rule in sports, and in football, and we didn’t do either. We let them have the momentum going in. We didn’t take the momentum going out in the second half, and we never got it back.”
This is a trend that has extended to Texas’ troubles with Kansas State over the years. In nine meetings with the Wildcats since Brown took over in Austin in 1998 – the last time Texas started 1-2 – the Longhorns have failed to score a single point in the final minute of the first half.
Kansas State, on the other hand, has scored 20 points in the final minute of the first half (two touchdowns, two field goals) against Texas since 1998. The only two times the Longhorns beat the Wildcats under Brown, in 2002 and 2003, they kept Kansas State from scoring right before halftime.
In the four games Kansas State has scored just before halftime, the Wildcats beat the Longhorns by an average of 16.6 points per game. In the other five meetings, Kansas State’s average margin of victory was reduced to 9.8 points per game.
The moments after Texas’ loss to Ole Miss did not mark the first time Brown emphasized the importance of keeping a team from scoring in the final seconds of the first half. But, against Kansas State – a team Brown has beaten just twice, posting a winning percentage of .222, compared to .756 against everyone else – the Longhorns have been unable to win the last minute of the first half.
If they want to snap their losing streak against the Wildcats, they’ll have to change that.