For the majority of Mack Brown's tenure at Texas, now going on 13 years, the Kansas State Wildcats have been the Longhorns' Bermuda Triangle. Postseason hopes, including the Big 12 South title (2006) and possibly much more, have disappeared at the hands of the purple Cats.
Texas fans shudder at names like Jordy Nelson, Josh Freeman, Yamon Figurs and Brandon Archer (who blasted Colt McCoy's shoulder), not to mention Michael Bishop and Mark Simoneau. (Sean Adams of OB says Josh Freeman had so much success against UT, he should at least contribute to the Longhorn Foundation.)
But fear not, even though the Longhorns must go to Manhattan, where McCoy's shoulder and some fumble-itis cost the Longhorns dearly in 2006 (don't blame Jevan Snead), Texas should be able to handle this year's version of the Purple Haze. (We continue our Big 12 previews from worst to first.)
Projected finish in Big 12 North: 6th
Returning starters on offense: 5
Returning starters on defense: 5
Projected record: 3-9 overall; 1-7 in Big 12 play
Franchise player: RB Daniel Thomas (1,265 yards rushing, 5.1 ypc, 11 TDs)
Reasons to fear the Wildcats: Thomas is a beast at 6-2 and 228 pounds who picks up bunches of yards after contact. Thomas, who played through a shoulder injury last season, will make life easier for first-year starting QB Carson Coffman or for junior Sammuel Lamur or sophomore Collin Klein. … Picking up Baylor and Oklahoma State on the schedule from the Big 12 South helps (Baylor is in Waco, while the Cowboys visit Manhattan). … Coach Bill Snyder is back mining the junior college ranks, where he found RB Thomas, and may have found another stud in DE Adam Davis from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. … The offensive line returns four starters, which gives Thomas and a first-year starter at QB a chance to be successful. … K-State has one of the best safety tandems in the Big 12 in juniors Tysyn Hartman and Emmanuel Lamur. Hartman is a strong, vocal leader and makes great reads in the secondary. Lamur is the team's leading tackler from a year ago.
Reasons not to fear the Wildcats: No starting QB emerged from the spring. … Receiver Brandon Banks, one of the most feared return men in college football with four TDs last season, has moved on. K-State is still looking for answers in the return game. … Even though there are five starters back on defense, only three are expected to start this season. Newcomers are expected to replace the other two, including DE Antonio Felder. … The entire LB corps is a question mark. … K-State has tough non-conference dates with UCLA and Central Florida, both of whom should be improved this season. Both games are in Manhattan. … K-State plays only three true Big 12 home games this season (Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas) because its home game against Iowa State on Sept. 18 is in Kansas City.
Facing Texas: K-State has won four of six meetings against Texas in the Mack Brown Era, including the last two (2006, 2007). The upset in 2006 helped knock UT out of the Big 12 South title. The loss to K-State in 2007 was the worst home defeat of the Mack Brown Era (41-21).
Best chance for an upset: UCLA right out of the box in Manhattan. The Bruins are rebuilding on the defensive line and may not be ready for K-State's pounding rushing attack led by Thomas.
Final analysis: The K-State offense is just too one-dimensional with too many questions, and the schedule works against the Wildcats with only three true Big 12 home games.
Sept. 4 UCLA (L)
Sept. 11 Missouri St. (W)
Sept. 18 Iowa St. in Kansas City (L)
Sept. 25 Central Florida (L)
Oct. 7 Nebraska (L)
Oct. 16 at Kansas (L)
Oct. 23 at Baylor (L)
Oct. 30 Oklahoma State (W)
Nov. 6 Texas (L)
Nov. 13 at Missouri (L)
Nov. 20 at Colorado (L)
Nov. 27 at North Texas (W)
(3-9 Overall, 1-7 Big 12)