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#24 University of Kansas/#4 Texas Longhorns Preview: Can the Jayhawks Pull off Another Austin Upset?

The #24 Kansas Jayhawks will be on the road for the second time this year to face the #4 ranked Texas Longhorns in their final football interconference meeting. The Jayhawks have a history of pulling off improbable wins over the Longhorns, the most recent of which came in November 2021 when Kansas traveled to Austin and beat Texas 57-56 in overtime. Some say that that game sparked Kansas's comeback into football relevance, and now that both teams will be facing each other as ranked opponents for the first time ever, this game is getting a lot of national attention. Let's break it down.

Broadcast Info:

Date: Saturday, September 30th, 2023

Time: 3:30 pm EST

Where: Austin, Texas, Darrell K Royal (DKR) Texas Memorial Stadium


Calling: Sean McDonough, Greg McElroy, and Molly McGrath

Radio: Jayhawk Radio Network, Longhorn Radio Network, Sports Radio 810 (Kansas)/104.9 The Horn (Texas)

Betting Line:

Texas -16.0

Over/Under: 61

Tale of the Tape: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas is coming off a great win over a solid BYU squad that thrust them into the rankings this week. They are already going to have a tough test defending that ranking though against arguably one of the most complete teams in college football right now, the Texas Longhorns. Every mistake will matter in this game, and coming off a game where the Jayhawks could have played more mistake-free football, this could potentially be a big ask. Kansas currently ranks 52nd in fewest penalty yards while Texas is ranked 13th per the NCAA website and penalties as well as other preventable mistakes are what kept BYU and previously Nevada in the game. The Jayhawks cannot have the penalty margin they have had over the past couple of games against a team as stout as Texas, they will exploit it to where the Jayhawks will find themselves struggling for air.

This is not the only key to the game though for Kansas, far from it, as many things will have to go right for the Jayhawks to be in this game and come out of Austin with the win. Offensively, the Jayhawks will not have the luxury of running the ball at will as they have for basically this entire season so far. The Texas defense ranks 18th in run defense, with only 349 yards allowed on the ground to this point. Mind you, they only allowed 107 yards of rushing against Alabama, a team that is well-known for having a great run game. This Jayhawk team will have to get creative to fool this Texas defense, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki will have to pull a rabbit out of a hat and Jalon Daniels and company will have to follow suit. Not only that but to be frank, Texas defensive backs have an athletic advantage over Kansas receivers. While we've seen great things from Luke Grimm, Quentin Skinner, and Lawrence Arnold, they will have to be on their A-game to not get locked down by this tough Texas secondary. The Jayhawks will need the passing game as well to be on point, as discussed earlier with the run game potentially being at a disadvantage, but this game will hinge on one huge aspect: The battle in the trenches. If Kansas cannot dominate the line of scrimmage, they frankly have no shot here. The offensive line has been a position of trouble in terms of penalties for Kansas but has held well against tough defensive fronts such as the one they faced last week in BYU. Texas's defensive front though is one of the best in the country, and if the Jayhawks can't have a repeat performance of last game but cleaner, this defensive front will cause all sorts of problems for Jalon Daniels as well as the run game.

Defensively, really all the Jayhawks have to do is hold their water. They'll be scored on this game, potentially a lot, but they have to prove they belong playing with the big boys. This defense can bend, but it cannot break. If they can make a statement much like they did last game, forcing turnovers, delivering big, physical hits, and just not allowing the Longhorns any room to breathe, their chances become a lot higher. Two matchups to watch will be Cobee Bryant vs. Xavier Worthy, two all-conference talents that have the potential to be the best at their position nationwide, and the battle in the trenches once again. Kansas can get pressure with the likes of Austin Booker, Devin Phillips, and many others along this defensive front that has a ton of depth and talent. If they can get in Quinn Ewers's face and stay in Quinn Ewers's face, that makes it that much tougher for this high-flying Texas offense to gash them through the air. They will need that too, as this Texas receiving corps can turn any game into a track meet. On the ground, Kansas has to tackle. Too many missed tackles caused BYU to have some hope and gain some momentum. If you allow Texas to have momentum, they won't just kill you through the air. Their run game with Jonathon Brooks and CJ Baxter can be lethal if you let them get headway, so setting the tone will be the biggest key for the Kansas defense to succeed and allow the least amount of damage to be done.

Tale of the Tape: Texas Longhorns

Texas may or may not be looking ahead to next week already with the Red River Rivalry looming, but in all likelihood, they aren't. Texas knows what damage this Kansas football can do and has done to them in the past and they're not going to take this team lightly. If they do, they'll be in great danger of dropping yet another upset loss to this Kansas team. Playing as favorites though, they have to act like it and play like it, which they have done inconsistently this season so far. Somewhat sleepwalking through easily winnable games like Rice and Wyoming, they cannot have that versus a Jayhawks squad looking to avenge a 55-14 beatdown at the hands of these Longhorns last year in front of their home crowd. This is a healthier, hungrier Jayhawk team they will be facing, and overlooking that may prove to be fatal.

Offensively, the Longhorns have plenty of weapons to expose a Kansas defense that, while has seemed to be elite at times, still shows signs of inconsistency and mistakes. Xavier Worthy will be facing another elite corner in Cobee Bryant, but after dusting Kool-Aid McKinstry among others in the game against Alabama, going for 5 receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown while also having a long of 44 yards and not even being the best-performing receiver that night, Bryant will have to give a yeoman's effort to stop Worthy, among the other elite receivers on this roster. If the offensive line can provide enough protection to allow Ewers and the receivers to do their work, Texas could have a field day gashing this defense. Top that with a run game to watch for as well, and the Longhorns could have yet another stellar offensive performance in the books.

Defensively, once again the trenches do matter a ton. The Jayhawk run game is one of the most lethal in the country, and if they can get going the Longhorns could have a tough time stopping it. Devin Neal is proving to be one of the best backs this year, and stopping him will be crucial to Texas's success. Not only that but stopping the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in Jalon Daniels will also prove to be beneficial. If Texas allows Kansas to out-physical them and control the tempo, they'll suffer greatly, and while they are one of the better units in the entire country, Kansas is one of the better offensive units in the country. This will be a battle of whose offense can get the most momentum going, and if Texas comes out flat and allows the Jayhawks to put up a few scores in the first half, they might be in trouble...

Conclusion and Final Score Prediction

This is a somewhat hard game to predict when you look at the fine details of this game. At face value, Texas should run away with this game, which is why the betting line is so lopsided and why many are already discounting the Jayhawks. However, this could very much be a classic matchup to serve as a final sendoff between two foes that have a sort of David vs. Goliath history. Kansas is coming off its best year in over a decade and looks to continue building off that success. After losing badly at home against the Longhorns last year, they will be looking for revenge and will be playing with a lot of energy. Texas needs to match that energy and play their game to a tee to come away with the win here, they can't sleepwalk and overlook just to look to next weekend. If Texas is for real, they need to prove it here, otherwise, the doubters will continue to discount them. This could be a statement game for either team, if Texas comes away with a win, it's another win over a ranked opponent and they go in with a ton of momentum in what will be a gigantic rivalry matchup. If Kansas wins, they can prove they're here to stay as one of the Big 12's best and prove that they deserve to be taken seriously as not only Big 12 Championship contenders but College Football Playoff contenders at that. This will be the Jayhawks' toughest test all season, a test that while they will perform admirably in and will still continue to be talked about after said performance, will prove to be just a bit too much. Don't be surprised though if things do turn out differently...

Final Score Prediction: Texas 38-Kansas 31

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