Oh, what could have been.
With a victory over TCU last week, the Texas Longhorns would be competing with Kansas State on Saturday with a BCS bowl berth on the line. Instead, the Wildcats will compete for the outright Big 12 title, while the Longhorns settle for pride.
If Kansas State comes away with a victory during this ABC prime-time game, it would secure an outright Big 12 title no matter the result of Oklahoma’s game versus TCU. The Wildcats enter the contest as the No. 6 team in the BCS, while the Longhorns enter at No. 18.
It may not be for a conference championship, but this game between traditional power and upstart BCS contenders should be filled with drama.
Who wins this matchup of top-20 teams?
When: Saturday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium,
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Free Football Radio
Betting Line: Texas +12.5 Kansas State
The Wildcats are solid in every aspect.
They don't turn the ball over—they're the best in the country in turnover margin. They are 11th in points for and 22nd in points against. They’re a team that forces the opponent to make plays, because they won't beat themselves.
Texas is potentially explosive, but just not as solid all-around as the Wildcats. The Longhorns have had a defensive resurgence the past four games, but that turn has been coupled with an offensive swoon, especially in the team's loss to TCU—Texas didn't score a touchdown until the final four minutes of the contest.
The Longhorns are too inconsistent to count on against the spread, so take the over with the Wildcats. Or better yet, stay away from this game.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
David Ash, QB, Questionable
Alex Okafor, DE, Questionable
Miles Onyegbule, WR, Questionable
Kendall Thompson, LB, Questionable
Kennedy Estelle, OL, Doubtful
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Out for season
Jordan Hicks, LB, Out for season
Ty Zimmerman, DB, Questionable
Tre Walker, LB, Out indefinitely
BCS/Top 25 Implications
This game means everything for Kansas State.
With a win, the Wildcats clinch a Big 12 title and the BCS bowl they were, perhaps unfairly, passed over for in 2011. The No. 6 Wildcats are no longer in the national title discussion, but a win over Texas would be an outstanding way to cap off one of the best seasons in school history.
For Texas, the game doesn't mean quite as much. The Longhorns' BCS dreams are all but shattered, and any hopes of a Big 12 title were dashed after their terrible offensive performance on Thanksgiving Day.
However, a win by the Longhorns would enable the team to push for their first 10-win season—a huge measuring point for Texas teams—since 2010.
Players to Watch
Texas Player to Watch: Case McCoy
David Ash is no longer the starter for Texas. That distinction belongs to Case McCoy. Ash suffered a rib injury during the team's loss to TCU last Thursday, and McCoy came in and almost led the Longhorns to a late fourth-quarter comeback.
However, it was his late-game interception, on a play in which there was no reason to force a bad throw, which sealed the game for TCU.
McCoy is a bit of a gunslinger. He has his flashes of greatness, but, at times, his aggressive mentality causes unnecessary turnovers.
That can't happen against Kansas State. The Wildcats have the best turnover ratio in the country, and they thrive on forced turnovers.
McCoy must be more of a game-manager as opposed to a gunslinger this weekend. Texas has no shot if he turns the ball over. But, with a steady game from McCoy, the Longhorns have a chance to pull the upset.
Kansas State Player to Watch: Collin Klein
He's Kansas State's most valuable player, perhaps the greatest Wildcat in school history. On Saturday night, Klein will have one last chance to impress the Heisman voters before the ballots are due later that evening.
It's not likely that Klein will walk away with the hardware. The Wildcats' loss to Baylor two weekends ago opened the door for other candidates, and pretty much ended Klein’s chances.
But, he still has an outside shot.
Both since the other likely candidates—Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame’s Manti Te'o—are idle this week, Klein has the eyes of the nation watching him. The Wildcats have a Big 12 title and a BCS bowl berth on the line, so the stakes are high. And perhaps with a spectacular performance, Klein can swing enough first-place votes his way to get back into Heisman contention.
Prediction: Kansas State 31, Texas 21
The Wildcats have everything to lose in this game, and the Longhorns don't have all that much to gain. Add that to the fact that it will be a backup under center for Texas, and Kansas State has a decided advantage. As if that weren't enough, the Longhorns have struggled with the Wildcats in recent years, as they haven't beat Kansas State since 2003.
Expect Klein to return to his Heisman form and for an opportunistic Kansas State defense to force McCoy into a few interceptions, which will prove to be the difference in the game.
The Longhorns will keep it close, but eventually the Wildcats’ physical style will wear Texas down, earning the Wildcats a Big 12 title.