Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Texas vs. Kansas State: Five key matchups

Texas running back Bijan Robinson sprints past West Virginia safety Tykee Smith at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Nov. 7, 2020.

Five key matchups out of the Texas-Kansas State game to keep your eye on Saturday:

Texas RB Bijan Robinson vs. Kansas State RB Deuce Vaughn

Before this season started, most thought that either Robinson or TCU’s Zach Evans was the Big 12’s best freshman running back. Robinson and Evans, after all, were two of the three five-star backs in the 2020 recruiting class. Vaughn, however, has entered that conversation. A three-star signee from Round Rock, Vaughn’s 527 yards lead the conference’s freshmen in rushing. He has also scored seven touchdowns and is averaging 18.5 yards per catch. Robinson recorded his first 100-yard rushing performance two games ago and is averaging 5.2 yards per attempt in 2020.

EDGE: Kansas State

Texas’ offensive line vs. Kansas State’s defensive line

For the first time since its opener, Texas will trot out a new-look offensive line for its first offensive series.If Christian Jones replaces Samuel Cosmi after the left tackle’s opt-out, Reese Moore or Andrej Karic will likely take Jones’ spot at right tackle. Neither Moore or Karic has started before. Texas could also play a first-time starter at center in freshman Jake Majors if Derek Kerstetter’s ankle is still ailing. The first test for the newcomers won’t be an easy one. Led by defensive end Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State’s 27 sacks rank second in the Big 12. Its 63 stops for a loss are five shy of the conference’s top mark.

EDGE: Kansas State

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger vs. Kansas State QB Will Howard

Since taking over for an injured Skylar Thompson, Howard has struggled. Howard’s six touchdown passes have been outweighed by eight interceptions and the freshman has exceeded 200 passing yards once. In Kansas State’s last two games, Howard totaled 120 passing yards. Over his 41 career starts, Ehlinger has failed to pass for 200 yards on six occasions and he was injured for two of those games. Ehlinger is also 3-0 against Kansas State and his freshman-year performance included 380 passing yards and a memorable collision with a Wildcat defensive back.

EDGE: Texas

Texas returner D’Shawn Jamison vs. Kansas State returner Phillip Brooks

Both Jamison and Brooks have been honored this season as the Big 12’s special teams player of the week. Jamison was acknowledged after he scored on a 100-yard kickoff return at Oklahoma State on Halloween. When Brooks returned two punts for touchdowns against rival Kansas on Oct. 24, he was also applauded by the conference. For his career, Brooks has scored twice on special teams. One of Jamison’s three scores on special teams was a 90-yard punt return during UT’s trip to Manhattan in 2018.

EDGE: Texas

Texas assistant Andre Coleman vs. Kansas State assistant Van Malone

Had the Big 12 existed in the early 1990s, Coleman and Malone could have decided this matchup themselves. An ex-Longhorn, Malone was an all-SWC defensive back in 1993. That same season, Coleman represented Kansas State as a receiver on the Big Eight’s all-conference squad. Twenty-seven years later, both coaches will be attempting to beat their Alma mater. Coleman coaches receivers at Texas, but no Longhorn has caught 25 passes this year. Malone instructs Kansas State’s cornerbacks, and the Wildcats rank eighth in the Big 12 against the pass (266.8 yards per game).

EDGE: Even