9-27-07 - Last season, Texas' hopes for a second consecutive national title were dashed with a stunning loss to an unranked Kansas State team. This season, the Longhorns are determined not to let their guard down.
Seventh-ranked Texas looks to remain undefeated as it hosts Kansas State on Saturday in each team's Big 12 opener.
The Longhorns had suffered only one loss -- against then-No. 1 Ohio State -- before their meeting with the Wildcats in 2006. Quarterback Colt McCoy ran for a one-yard touchdown on Texas' first drive, and the fourth-ranked Longhorns looked like they'd cruise to another win.
Unfortunately for Texas, McCoy injured his shoulder on that touchdown run and didn't return. The Longhorns lost 45-42, and the defending national champs eventually settled for a trip to the Alamo Bowl.
"One thing about Texas," Longhorns coach Mack Brown said after the Kansas State game, "there's never a good time to lose."
This year's Longhorns (4-0) are hoping to avoid a similar letdown as Texas tries to win its ninth straight conference opener since beginning Big 12 play with a 48-7 loss at Kansas State in 1998.
Texas didn't look much like a Top 10 team in its first three games this year, squeaking by Arkansas State and Central Florida and struggling in the first half of a win over TCU. But the Longhorns notched their first convincing win of the season by routing Rice 58-14 last Saturday.
"We are hoping that we saw enough positives on Saturday night with the consistency. That's what we weren't doing well," Brown said. "They need to continue to play with that attitude, understanding the players at Kansas State will be better than the players at Rice."
McCoy entered the game with four touchdown passes and five interceptions, but threw for a season-high 333 yards with three TDs and no picks against Rice. He looked a lot more like the quarterback who set a school record with 29 touchdown passes as a freshman in 2006.
"He looked like the Colt of old," Brown said. "It was his best game by far."
While the Longhorns were dominant last week, they don't want to get too confident after a win over Rice, which has given up 175 points this year -- second-most in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
"I don't think anybody knows how good we can be," defensive tackle Derek Lokey said. "We have the talent to be great, but we're not there yet."
Texas has a 5-4 advantage all-time against Kansas State, but just 2-3 in the series since the schools became Big 12 rivals in 1996. The Longhorns' two wins against the Wildcats in that stretch have been by a combined seven points.
"The last three games that we have had with Kansas State have been really tough games and really good games," Brown said, "and we will know more about ourselves this weekend because they are a really good football team."
The Wildcats (2-1) didn't play last weekend, but beat Missouri State 61-10 on Sept. 15. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson set single-game school records with 15 receptions and 209 yards. He caught a touchdown pass and threw for another as Kansas State recorded its highest point total since shutting out Kansas 64-0 on Nov. 2, 2002.
James Johnson ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcats compiled 546 yards of total offense, but the Kansas State defense was just as impressive, holding Missouri State to 191 total yards -- more than 260 yards below its season average.
The Wildcats rank ninth in the FBS in rushing yards allowed (68.0 per game) and 16th in scoring defense (15.7 points per game).
"From a defensive standpoint, I'm real pleased with how we're attempting to take the run away from people," coach Ron Prince said.
The Longhorns, meanwhile, boast the Big 12's leading rusher in Jamaal Charles, who has run for six touchdowns while averaging 117.8 yards.
"Right now he is probably the most dynamic runner in the league and the kind of guy you can build an entire game plan around, so I'm very concerned about him," Prince said.