Texas will be playing mostly for pride when it hosts bowl-bound Kansas State on Black Friday in Austin, Texas, in the Big 12 Conference finale for both teams.
The Longhorns (4-7, 2-6 Big 12), who have lost six straight games for the first time since 1956, look to avoid a seventh conference loss, a cellar Texas has never reached in program history. Texas may end its disappointing 2021 campaign without a bowl for the first time since 2016 (5-7 teams can become bowl eligible if not enough teams finish 6-6) and needs a win to avoid its worst record since it finished 1-9 65 years ago.
The Longhorns head home after a 31-23 loss at West Virginia on Saturday in which both their regular quarterbacks suffered injuries. Backup QB Hudson Card opened the second half after replacing the ineffective Casey Thompson and passed for 123 yards and a touchdown before being forced from the game late in the fourth quarter.
Both quarterbacks have been listed as day-to-day heading into Friday’s game.
Keilan Robinson had 111 yards and a 49-yard touchdown on nine carries for Texas in the loss. Robinson and Roschon Johnson have become the primary ballcarriers for the Longhorns after a season-ending injury to star back Bijan Robinson.
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said he expects his team to finish the season strong.
“(Having bowl) practices would be great, would be nice, but I think inevitably for us it’s about the psyche and the mindset,” Sarkisian said. “Don’t think that our players aren’t working hard and trying hard. Our guys are battling, and they’re competing.”
The Wildcats (7-4, 4-4) travel to Austin after a 20-10 home loss to then No. 11 Baylor on Saturday that snapped Kansas State’s four-game win streak. Deuce Vaughn led the Wildcats with 128 yards on 11 carries and their only TD; he also paced the team with five catches for 37 yards.
“Everyone on this team is a grown man and we know what just happened and what we need to do to get better,” Kansas State center Noah Johnson said after Saturday’s loss. “We just have to go do it. You don’t play football to cakewalk everyone. The hard times, that’s when you grow and learn the most.”
Skylar Thompson passed for 158 yards in the loss before leaving late in the game with a left leg injury. His availability for the Wildcats in the short week is still to be determined.
Texas has won the past four games against the Wildcats but owns just an 11-10 all-time lead in the series.