Texas has never started Big 12 conference play with a losing record under Mack Brown. However, the Longhorns enter Saturday's game with Kansas State at 1-2 after dropping back-to-back games against BYU and Ole Miss.
Brown's future in Austin is a storyline that simply won't go away, but it can at least be tempered if the 'Horns can pull off a win Saturday against Kansas State. For what it's worth, Texas is currently a six-point favorite, according to VegasInsider.com.
If Texas did beat the Wildcats in Week 4, it would be for the first time in 10 years. (However, it should be noted that Texas and K-State did not play in 2004, '05, '08 and '09 when the Big 12 actually had, you know, 12 teams.)
The point is the 'Horns haven't figured out a way to beat Bill Snyder in a long time.
Judging by how poor Texas' run defense has been the past two weeks, and how good Snyder is at game planning, it figures to be a challenge again. Of all people, the X Factor for the game could be backup K-State quarterback Daniel Sams.
As Kansas State's starting quarterback, Jake Waters is known as a pure pocket passer, whereas Sams is the dual-threat athlete for which opposing defenses have to account. Sams' role in K-State's offense has continued to grow each week since the team's season opening loss to North Dakota State.
It could (should) grow even more against the Longhorns. Through three games, the sophomore is the team's second-leading rusher and is first in touchdowns (3) as well as yards per carry (7.5).
Yes, Texas' defense had another bad game last Saturday against Ole Miss. But the root of that evil came from Rebels option attack—and Bo Wallace isn't even the most a graceful runner. Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott torched the 'Horns defense along the edge. It was part speed, part impeccable perimeter blocking.
Texas' defense had no answer for it:
Rewatched Texas-Ole Miss. Looked like the Rebels ran variations of the same 3 offensive concepts for 56 of 72 snaps.— Max Olson (@max_olson) September 15, 2013
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze may or may not have definitely anticipated this:
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said the Texas defensive scheme was exactly the same as last week except for one goal line wrinkle— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) September 15, 2013
Now, put Sams and running back John Hubert in the backfield instead of Wallace and Scott.
Yeah, it could get ugly.
It's not that Sams has to start against Texas or even take 50 percent of the snaps. Simply having to prepare for multiple offensive looks in a week's time could be enough to burn Greg Robinson's group. If the option is even so much as incorporated effectively for Kansas State, it could be another long and deflating night for Texas.
Here's a sample of what Sams did last year against a Miami team that was also shaky (to put it lightly) against the run:
Interestingly enough, K-State's dominance of Texas in recent years hasn't been a direct result of offensive firepower. In fact, UT has outgained K-State in total yards in the past three meetings—sometimes handedly.
The difference was the Wildcats defense, which forced 10 turnovers in those meetings. Taking the ball away will undoubtedly be a focal point of the K-State game plan again, but so should the option attack involving Sams.
Even if that means, if nothing else, that Texas has to spend time preparing for it.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.