One team is hanging by a thread. The other team's thread got cut last weekend. But when Kansas State hosts Texas in Manhattan, Kan., on Saturday, there's one thing both teams have in common.
There's still plenty to play for.
Kansas State hopes to stop a four-game losing streak that has taken the Wildcats from a tie for first place in the Big 12 and the No. 16 ranking to a losing record. The Longhorns, meanwhile, hope to have a lot of chips fall into place.
With a heartbreaking loss to Iowa State last weekend, the Longhorns (5-3, 4-3 Big 12) have to win out (they're at so-far-winless Kansas on Dec. 12), have Oklahoma lose twice and have Oklahoma State lose at least one of its two remaining games in order to play in the Big 12 Championship game.
"They're a resilient bunch," Texas coach Tom Herman said of his team's reaction to the Iowa State loss. "We all know that the season is not over. We have two regular-season games left, and a bowl game, and we've got a job to do. That job is to go win a game."
Senior Sam Ehlinger leads the Longhorns into Manhattan riding a three-game winning streak against the Wildcats. Ehlinger is third in the Big 12 in passing with 266.5 yards per game.
"(Sam) can beat you with his feet, he can beat you with his arm, he can beat you with his mind," head coach Chris Klieman said. "He can run through arm tackles because he's a big, physical ball carrier. He throws the ball really well and has a lot of different people he can get the ball to in space. We need to be on point, and be better in limiting explosive plays."
Kansas State (4-5, 4-4) has been struggling offensively since starting quarterback Skylar Thompson went down against Texas Tech in the third game. Freshman Will Howard helped the Wildcats defeat the Red Raiders, TCU and Kansas. But it seems like anything that can go wrong has gone wrong in their four-game losing streak.
"It wears on you, without question," Klieman said. "A couple of games were really close, and we felt like we should win those games, but we didn't. If you're a competitor and a winner, like all those kids are, it ticks you off."
Still, Klieman is looking forward to sending his seniors off with a victory if at all possible.
"We get to honor 20 seniors in their last home game," he said. "Those guys have meant a ton to our staff. They welcomed us with open arms when we were hired here two years ago. It will be an emotional time for those guys.
"I'm proud of the resiliency of these guys. We just have to execute better to have a chance against a really good Texas team."
--Field Level Media