No. 18 Texas Longhorns hope to stick to winning formula versus K-State

Texas head coach Tom Herman said one of the keys to the Longhorns' approach for Saturday's game at Kansas State is sticking to their preparation routine that has allowed them to win the last three games (photo courtesy of

By Steve Habel, Senior Contributing Writer

AUSTIN, Texas — One of the keys to the No. 18 Texas Longhorns’ resurgence over the past three weeks has been consistency and routine that was helped by a home-field advantage. The result? Three straight wins for UT for the first time since 2014.

The goal now will be to take the lessons learned, and the routine developed and honed, on the road with it when Texas heads north for a crucial battle Saturday at Kansas Stateat Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

The Longhorns (3-1 overall, 1-1 in Big 12 play) have not won in the Little Apple since 2002, and — despite the fact that the Wildcats have struggled some this season — Texas coach Tom Herman almost chuckled Thursday when he was asked if his team was looking past this week’s game.

“The way we go about our business is that we are 0-0 this week, and this team is 0-0 against Kansas State, regardless of what’s happened in the games against them in the past,” Herman said. “We haven’t won there in 16 years and it’s a road conference game. No, we haven’t said a word about any other opponent, past or future.”

Texas’ wins in the past two games over then-No. 17 TCU and then-No. 22 USC, combined with one in week two against Tulsa, have granted the Longhorns a growing measure of confidence.

The “energy” (the term Herman likes to use instead of “momentum”) has been generated, in large part, by sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score against TCU last week.

“It's great, overall, just having confidence in what we're doing and having confidence in everyone around me,” Ehlinger said. “But that it won't really affect how we approach the week. The flip side of that is understanding that we can't let it get in the way of our progression and our development.”

Kansas State (2-2 overall, 0-1 in Big 12 play) heads home after getting shellacked by No. 12 West Virginia last week in Morgantown, W.V. The Wildcats surrendered 464 yards of total offense and five touchdown passes, the most they have allowed in a game since 2016.

The Kansas State offense faltered, as well, totaling just 318 yards and converting only three of 14 third downs. Its six points came from two field goals from sophomore kicker Blake Lynch.

Kansas State trailed, 21-0, at halftime after opening the door for West Virginia on a failed fourth-and-two play from the Wildcats’ 42. After the game, venerable Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was still upset over not making that first down.

“I went in the locker room and I accepted the responsibility for being behind in the ballgame at the halftime with our players,” Snyder said, “because there were two touchdowns following that. But I can’t coach a team that can’t get six inches on a play.”

While Texas is ascending with wins the past two weeks, Kansas State is struggling, and doing so uncharacteristically.

Its two victories this season have come against FCS powerhouse South Dakota — the Wildcats needed a rally from 12 points down in the fourth quarter in that game — and against Texas-San Antonio, a team that followed its 41-17 loss at Kansas State with a three-point win over hapless Texas State.

But if ever there has been a time for the Wildcats to turn things around, history says it will likely come against the Longhorns.

Herman said the Longhorns will stick to the method that’s brought them their recent success and hope that it returns like results.

“The formula will never change, regardless of the venue, and that’s your preparation,” Herman said. “You don’t show up at 2:30 on Saturday – you prepare all week to play your best when it’s game time. Our routine will be the same outside of a lengthy plane ride.

“That’s always easier said than done, but I think we are in a good place. These guys understand that winning on the road is more difficult. It’s not something where we are going to wake up and flip a switch and say 'it’s time to go.' We’ve been preparing, and we’ve had a good week.”

Steve Habel

Steve Habel is a senior contributing writer for Horns Illustrated. He has covered Texas sports since 1989 and was this magazine’s senior editor for 24 years. You can follow him on twitter @stevehabel .

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