AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Longhorns have won two big games in front of raucous home crowds not seen at Royal-Memorial Stadium in years.
With postgame chants of “Texas Fight!” and the strains of “Eyes of Texas” still echoing in their ears, the Longhorns returned to the Top 25 at No. 18.
Now they have to go do it on the road and the first stop is a daunting one. Texas (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) plays Saturday at Kansas State (2-2, 0-1), where the Longhorns are 0-5 since their last win there in 2002.
“I told our team they are not going to spot us seven points in Manhattan because we beat TCU,” Texas coach Tom Herman said Monday. “What happened against TCU, what happened against USC, for that matter what happened against Maryland, is inconsequential to how we play and how Kansas State plays against us.”
Texas opened the season with a road loss at Maryland before returning home to win three in a row, the Longhorns’ first such streak since 2014. Victories the last two weeks against Southern California and TCU marked the first time Texas has won consecutive games against ranked opponents since 2008, a season the Longhorns reached No. 1.
“I think we all have bought in,” safety Brandon Jones said after Texas beat USC. “The difference between now and the past is we’re really having fun. I think when you are having fun, you are more confident, you’re out there playing with swagger.”
Kansas State has a history of knocking the swagger out of the Longhorns.
In 2006, the Longhorns had won eight in a row and the defending national champions were climbing back into the title race before quarterback Colt McCoy got hurt early and Texas lost 45-42.
In 2014, Texas thought its offense had found its groove after a win over Iowa State, only to get humiliated the next week at Kansas State in a 23-0 loss. In 2016, the Wildcats again stifled Texas in a loss that sent Texas into a dismal spin toward a 5-7 finish in coach Charlie Strong’s last season.
If the Longhorns want to be taken seriously as a Big 12 contender, they can’t squander their big home stand with another loss to a Wildcats team that was soundly beaten by West Virginia, a 35-6 loss that left coach Bill Snyder publicly criticizing his team.
The Wildcats have stalled behind quarterbacks Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson and rank No. 108 nationally in total offense at 347 yards per game. The Texas defense allowed USC and TCU just a single field goal in the second half of the last two games.
A key to that success has been turnovers. Texas has forced five in the last two games, including three in the third quarter against TCU. Freshman safety Caden Sterns had two interceptions against the Horned Frogs to earn Big 12 newcomer of the week honors. Sterns was 2 the last time Texas won at Kansas State.
“We’ll focus on trying to win a road game,” Herman said. “That is no small feat. We won’t take that lightly.”
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)