- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Each week, we team up with the ESPN Stats & Info crew to dig into the numbers that matter most and find three statistics that could make a big difference on Saturday. Here are the numbers to remember going into Texas’ home game this weekend against Kansas (2:30 p.m. CT, Longhorn Network).
Texas’ defense was one of the nation’s worst last year when it came to missing tackles. In Manny Diaz’s two games as defensive coordinator this season, the Longhorns missed a combined 24 tackles, which tied for third worst in FBS. A total of 17 occurred at BYU alone.
However, against TCU last weekend, the Longhorn defense had one missed tackle. One.
Texas’ missed tackle numbers have been steadily declining since it began Big 12 play, from 11 against Kansas State to nine vs. Iowa State to four against Oklahoma. And those improvements have come without the help of Texas’ best linebacker, Jordan Hicks.
Those stunning improvements are a testament to what Greg Robinson and Texas' defensive staff have achieved in the past month, and they are also indicative of the high level of confidence this unit is playing with right now.
There’s a valid case to be made that Case McCoy is playing like the second-best quarterback in the Big 12 right now. During October, McCoy had an opponent-adjusted QBR of 82.4, which ranked No. 2 in the conference behind Baylor’s Bryce Petty and No. 11 nationally.
He finished third in the conference this month in yards per attempt (7.8) as well as completions of 20-plus yards (10). He also went 3-0, and each of those wins came away from Austin.
Keep this in mind: His three interceptions in the last two games came in the second half, after Texas had already secured victory. His gunslinger tendencies still pop up from time to time, but they haven’t gotten him in trouble yet. He’ll have to keep those mistakes to a minimum if Texas is serious about running the table.
Everyone knows this stat by now, but there’s no ignoring it: Kansas has now lost 25 straight Big 12 games. That’s the second-longest losing streak in league history, behind Baylor’s 29-game slide from 1998 to 2001.
In the past five seasons, Kansas is 2-36 in Big 12 play. The average scoring margin of those 38 games has been 23.1 points, or an average score of 40-17. During that period, the Jayhawks have also employed three different head coaches. The two rare victories came in games when Kansas managed to score 40-plus points.
KU has never defeated Texas in their 10 meetings as Big 12 foes, but its four-point loss to Texas last year remains the closest Charlie Weis has come to winning a Big 12 game in his tenure.
Three more to remember
No. 120: Kansas’ FBS ranking in yards per play. The Jayhawks are averaging 4.24 yards per play on offense, fourth worst nationally.
31.7: Texas receiver Marcus Johnson is averaging 31.7 yards per catch on third downs in his last four games. He has seven receptions on 10 targets, scoring touchdowns on two and picking up first downs on four others.
10/4/2008: The last time Kansas won a Big 12 road game, a 35-33 victory at Iowa State. KU has lost 19 straight conference road games since then.