The Texas-Kansas matchup doesn’t usually have many headlines, but with this Game opening Friday at noon EST, there will be plenty to talk about. The Jayhawks hired Les Miles on a five-year contract that will start at the end of the season so there’s no doubt a lot of the current players would like to showcase their talent. As for the Longhorns, they lock up a spot in the Big 12 title Game with a win. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger is questionable to play with an AC contusion in his shoulder.
Texas is listed as a -15 point favorite as of Monday afternoon at most sportsbooks.
That injury is relevant because of how good Ehlinger has been, but backup Shane Buechele at least has experience as the former starter and he came in against Iowa State and completed all 10 of his passes. But playing Kansas isn’t a freebie like it has been in the past. The Jayhawks dropped 40 points on Oklahoma last weekend, almost beat in-state rival K State before that and already took down TCU at home. It also can’t be forgotten that Kansas has battled Tom Herman’s teams the last couple years, covering in last year’s 42-27 loss, but more importantly winning 24-21 as a 23-point underdog back in 2016.
To guarantee the title Game, Texas has to show up, and that’s where the defense comes in. At times, the Longhorns have been excellent, holding Iowa State to 10 points most recently, but at others they’ve slipped up and that led to back-to-back losses against OK State and West Virginia. They’ve been worse against the pass, giving up 264.5 yards per Game, but that may work to their favor in this matchup.
KU quarterback Peyton Bender has better numbers than a season ago, but that’s mostly because he isn’t throwing as many interceptions with just two all season. He hasn’t been asked to do too much since the running Game has been stout. Running backs Pooka Williams and Khalil Herbert have led an attack that averages 4.5 yards per carry, but Williams fully broke out with 252 rushing yards in the loss against Oklahoma last weekend. As long as that running Game is there, Kansas could stay competitive in this Game. The problem is that Texas has one of the better rush defenses in the conference, giving up only 3.9 yards per carry.
And no matter who is at quarterback for Texas, there shouldn’t be too many problems scoring against a Kansas defense allowing 430 yards and 30.5 points per Game. Then again, there has to be some worry because in Buechele’s only start, the team managed just 23 points against Baylor. Without Ehlinger, the running Game is less dynamic and Buechele isn’t as effective through the air, but KU still may not be able to stop running backs Keaontay Ingram and Tre Watson from controlling the Game. It’s a little harder to take Texas to cover with Buechele at quarterback, but it’s hard to see them losing with the title Game on the line.
The Longhorns don’t have many relevant trends but they haven’t covered in their last five Games on Friday. The Jayhawks are in the same boat without many trends and have a 3-8 ATS mark vs. a team with a winning record. The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these schools.
Our Pick – OVER 49