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Texas rumbles its way to decisive win against Kansas State

AUSTIN, Texas -- In a rain-soaked brawl, Texas powered its way to a 23-9 win over Kansas State on Saturday. Here's what we learned:

What the win means for Texas: The Longhorns are one step closer to going bowling and have a realistic shot at six wins after a 1-4 start. If they can get past Iowa State and Kansas, the Horns just need to beat West Virginia or Texas Tech to save a season that was crumbling a few weeks ago. Considering how completely dominant Kansas State was in its 23-0 win over Texas last year in Manhattan, Kansas, this one had to feel good. Charlie Strong’s team had to find a way to win this game and avoid a letdown after all the momentum it built in its upset of Oklahoma. A double-digit win in poor conditions was an encouraging response.

What the loss means for Kansas State: Kansas State drops to 0-4 in Big 12 play and has its first four-game losing streak under coach Bill Snyder since 2005. Quarterback Joe Hubener showed toughness -- he was knocked out of the game twice and kept returning -- and Charles Jones had a breakthrough day, with 122 rushing yards, but this was a bad day to fall behind early. Throwing the ball was tough in the Texas rain, and that made sustaining drives even more difficult. With Baylor and Texas Tech up next on the schedule, the forecast for Kansas State isn’t looking too promising.

How the game was won: Texas brought the two things you need to win on a rainy day: tough defense and a power run game. Jerrod Heard, Tyrone Swoopes and the Texas running backs combined for 274 yards on 53 carries and found success in the first half by essentially running the ball on 39 of the first 40 plays. But it was the Longhorns' defense that saved the day. Kansas State’s offense drove three times in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie it, and Strong’s defense got stops on all three. Safety Dylan Haines killed the third drive with an interception, and Swoopes rumbled 52 yards on three plays for a touchdown with 1:47 left to seal the deal.

Unsung heros: The fans in attendance who stuck this one out. The rain only worsened throughout the afternoon, and open umbrellas aren’t permitted inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Texas sold more than 88,000 tickets for this game, but maybe half that many fans showed up. The loyal ones in ponchos who survived the downpour were treated to a bit of an ugly ballgame. They deserve some props for their resilience.