(TNS) — For an entire year, the Texas football team has been reminded via social media that it lost to Kansas last season. The chance for payback comes Saturday, as the Longhorns — now coached by Tom Herman — enter the home contest as heavy favorites against a KU team still reeling from last week’s 38-9 home loss to Baylor. The Jayhawks also will try to avoid setting the FBS record with a potential 45th straight road defeat.
KU key to success: Get fired up. The Jayhawks have 37 players from the state of Texas, and many of them — including defensive linemen Dorance Armstrong and Daniel Wise — feel slighted after not getting much recruiting interest from the state’s flagship school. Using that as motivation in a lost season could only help KU’s chances at keeping this close.
Texas key to success: Don’t mess up. The Longhorns had six turnovers in last year’s 24-21 overtime loss in Lawrence, and the only path to falling in this game would involve numerous mistakes again. That isn’t as likely Saturday, as through nine games, Texas has 11 giveaways with a plus-three turnover margin overall.
Texas player to watch: Safety DeShon Elliott leads the nation with six interceptions and is a big reason the Longhorns rank No. 1 nationally in third-down defense, according to the advanced numbers from SB Nation’s Bill Connelly.
Key matchup: KU’s offensive line vs. Texas’ defensive front. The Jayhawks’ 367-yard rushing effort against West Virginia in late September seems like a distant memory. KU hasn’t been able to match that mark in its last five games combined, rushing 158 times for 339 yards, which comes out to a 2.1-yard average per carry. The Jayhawks have battled injuries up front, but that still shouldn’t excuse this many poor games in a row from a unit that was supposed to have better depth this season. Texas will be another big challenge, as one of the Longhorns’ strengths has been stuffing the run.
Jesse Newell’s prediction: Texas 52, Kansas 7. KU’s recent road history isn’t pretty. The Jayhawks are 0-3 against the spread in away games this season and 8-22 in their last 30, according to OddsShark’s online database. The 34-point spread is a huge number … and it still might not be enough considering KU’s recent past.