Kickoff: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
TV: Longhorn Network (Here’s how to get the game if your TV subscriber doesn’t get Longhorn Network)
Radio: WHB (810 AM) in Kansas City, KFH (1240 AM) in Wichita
The line: Texas by 21 1/2.
It’s probably best, when assessing this matchup, to look first at what ESPN’s advanced measure SP+ thinks about both teams.
Texas, at 22nd in the predictive ranking, appears to still be a bit overrated by humans. One reason for this seems to be that the Longhorns are experiencing some positive turnover luck (plus-seven through six games), and while that’s a great attribute to have ... it’s difficult to replicate week to week, making it a less reliable indicator of team strength compared to other factors.
The opposite appears to be happening with Kansas, which shows up as a respectable 78th in SP+. Again, turnovers — the Jayhawks are at minus-five for the year — could be swaying public opinion a bit on a team that appears to have made decent strides in Year 1 under coach Les Miles.
Here’s the problem for KU: Without linebacker Dru Prox (shoulder injury), the defense has been vulnerable. The Jayhawks have little experience or depth at that particular spot, and it’s been exposed the last two games when KU has played both TCU and Oklahoma.
Texas, legitimately, has an awesome offense. Especially at home, I see the Longhorns getting to 40-plus points Saturday.
The other side of it is more intriguing. KU has a new offensive coordinator in Brent Dearmon, and while that has seemed to pump some enthusiasm into the players this week, it’s difficult to know how much (or if) the Jayhawks can improve in this instance with Dearmon only getting two weeks to rearrange what he can.
Ask me to guess, and I’ll say Dearmon helps the offense ... but just a little. Another big Jayhawks concern should be special teams, where SP+ has Texas at eighth and KU at 114th; there’s definitely potential for a game-changing play there.
It’s two “ifs” for sure, but if Dearmon brings out a slight improvement to KU’s offense and if KU’s special teams can play basically to a draw, I like KU to cover in this game ... even if Texas is still the pick for a comfortable win.
Texas 42, KU 24