Tre Walker tried to soften it but it didn’t change the underlying message when he was asked about Kansas State’s 42-24 win over Texas last season.
“They kind of laid down a little bit,” the Wildcats linebacker said during Big 12 media days in July.
Undoubtedly, Texas players, coaches and fans look at that statement and scoff. Yet, if anyone in the nation has the right to make that declaration it would be Walker, who is part of a Kansas State program which holds the longest current winning streak against the Longhorns in college football. The Wildcats have the last five meetings starting in 2006.
“They have played better than us for sure and coached better than us,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We haven't played very well against them. They've been more physical than we have.”
The Wildcats won 45-42 in 2006, 41-21 in 2007, 39-14 in 2010 and 17-13 in 2011 during the winning streak. For Kansas State, the win streak could bring confidence but the past will only mean so much on Saturday.
“It probably depends on the individual,” KSU coach Bill Snyder said when asked about the Wildcat’s win streak. “Most of the youngsters are probably more concerned with preparation and ourselves than things that have happened in the past.”
In other words, they’re focused on playing K-State football. And K-State football is exactly what has provided the foundation of the win streak. The Wildcats have found a way to beat Texas the same way they usually find a way to beat any other team that has the overall talent advantage.
Defense, turnovers and special teams.
In KSU’s wins over the Longhorns, the Wildcats’ average turnover margin is 2.6 (13 turnover margin in five games) and their average starting field position margin was 9.2, meaning they consistently started almost 10 yards closer to the end zone than UT during the winning streak.
The Longhorns have had the clear advantage when they have ball and when playing defense. The Longhorns are averaging 369.8 yards while holding KSU to 274.2 yards during the streak. The Wildcats didn’t outgain the Longhorns in any of those wins. KSU’s offense has been horrible, going three-and-out 42 percent of the time and averaging 3.07 yards per carry during the win streak.
How do you overcome being outgained by an average of nearly 100 yards?
Simply taking the ball away is a great start. On average, the Longhorns have had to make up 15.6 points off turnovers against KSU thanks to 16 turnovers in five games. KSU’s 45-42 win in 2006 was the only time the Longhorns didn’t have to overcome a double digit, points off turnover margin. It’s hard to spot a Big 12 opponent more than 15 points and expect to win.
The often overlooked third part of the game is another way the Wildcats win. KSU consistently produces terrific special teams play featuring a great return game and its victories over UT are no different. The Wildcats average starting line has been their own 39-yard line and they’ve averaged 22 yards per punt return and 28.64 yards per kick return during the win streak, including punt and kick returns for touchdowns in 2007.
And the Wildcats defense has had a bend but don’t break mentality, allowing 4.88 yards per play and only allowing UT to score points 33.3 percent of the time after the Longhorns have started a drive by making a first down. The Wildcats defense has been resilient and come up with key plays when they need them allowing UT to gain just 38.3 percent of the possible yards to gain on 69 total drives in those five games.
Defense, turnovers and special teams make Kansas State football come to mind, so it’s no surprise those three words have defined the Wildcats’ current five-game winning streak over Texas.