Smart move: K-State plans to pay close attention to Texas running game

Kansas State held Oklahoma, the Big 12’s fourth-ranked rushing offense, to 138 yards -- 77 below its average against other foes -- last week in a loss to the Sooners.

The Wildcats held West Virginia, the league’s third-ranked ground attack, to 124 yards in a Week 5 loss to the Mountaineers. That’s 115 yards below their average against other opponents.

So what’s on tap Saturday for K-State against Texas, which brings the No. 2 rushing offense in the Big 12 to Manhattan (noon ET, ESPN2)?

Rest assured, D'Onta Foreman has captured the notice of Kansas State.

“He is an amazing running back,” KSU linebacker Trent Tanking said. “He’s very physical and very fast. He hits the hole downhill hard and is very tough to tackle.”

Foreman, the 249-pound Texas junior, ranks second nationally with a per-game rushing average of 146.2 yards. He leads the Big 12 in yards gained before first contact (474) and yards after contact (257). And in every game he’s played this season, Foreman has gained more than 130 yards and scored.

Basically, he’s a beast with the ball in his hands. And the Wildcats know it.

“They give it to him a ton of times,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said, “and he still comes back for more.”

For K-State to win a fifth consecutive home game against the Longhorns and earn a seventh victory in the past nine games of the series, it likely needs to slow Foreman.

The Wildcats lead the Big 12 and rank fourth nationally in rushing defense, allowing 90.3 yards per game. It is perhaps the strongest aspect of Snyder’s team. K-State holds foes to 3.01 yards per carry, eighth nationally.

Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey burned Kansas State for 126 yards in the season opener. Justin Crawford of West Virginia also topped 100 yards before the Wildcats held Joe Mixon of Oklahoma to 88 on 19 carries last week.

Foreman, no doubt, fits in the same category with the top backs K-State has seen this season.

“He’s a very powerful runner,” Snyder said, “stays on his feet extremely well, has excellent lower-body strength, but can bounce the ball out as well and has got speed to go along with it.”

Snyder said he’s impressed with Foreman’s consistency and durability. It’s been on display even in Texas’ three losses -- all of which came away from Austin, which magnifies the importance of controlling the big back.

Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele has performed notably better at home for the Longhorns.

The Wildcats said they take pride in their home streak against Texas. Both teams enter at 3-3 with a pair of Big 12 losses.

“It will be intense,” said Tanking, a fourth-year junior. “All of the [Texas] games since I’ve been here have been close and intense. We are getting ready for a hardcore, pound-your-fist-in-the-dirt type of football game.”