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Kansas State Wildcats vs. Texas A&M Aggies Odds - Prediction

Kansas State Wildcats (8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (8-4 SU, 4-8 ATS)
Advocare V100 Texas Bowl
Date/Time: Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 9PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV: ESPN
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: KSU +2/TAM -2
Over/Under Total: 56.5

The Kansas State Wildcats take on the Texas A&M Aggies on December 28 in the 2016 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston. Both teams ended the regular season on different notes, with the Big 12’s Kansas State winning its last three games to get here, while the SEC’s Aggies lost 4 out of 6 in another bad end to the season for A&M. At one point, they were ranked sixth, but they faltered at the end. Who can get it together in time for this matchup in Houston?

This is the third year in a row where the Aggies had these kinds of seasons—fast starts that flame out. They were looking really good at 6-0 this season with tough wins over Arkansas and surging Tennessee. A loss to Alabama followed—a defeat where it’s hard to take a team to task for losing. After beating outmanned New Mexico St., they lost their next three conference games to both Mississippis and then in a regular-season finale to LSU at home, 54-39. They lost 4 of their last 6 games, with the last two coming at home. And against the spread, they have not cashed in a winner since September 24, with an alarming eight straight non-covers. Things really got sideways for the Aggies in the second half of the season.

The Aggies issues can be traced back to a slew of different issues, one being the state of their defense. Injuries didn’t help, nor did inconsistent play, as a defense in fine form early dissolved into more of a liability over the course of the season. SEC teams were having their way with this group increasingly throughout the season. And allowing 54 to LSU is not a singing endorsement heading into this game. On one hand, one might be inclined to take an SEC team over a Big 12 team and the locale would seem to suit the Aggies with a far-less demanding road trip. But the Aggies limping to the finish is distressing for potential A&M backers.

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Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight has a knee injury suffered at the end of the season and is questionable for this game, as backup Jake Hubernak is also questionable with a shoulder injury. One would assume that one of them would be ready to go on the 28th with no other seasoned QBs on the team. The senior QB Knight was gutty this season and had 16 TDs against just 6 picks, while scooting for almost 600 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. But at barely 50% completions, he wasn’t always on the mark and that equation got worse as the season carried on. A&M has a couple good backs in Trayveon Williams, who was over 1000 yards, along with Keith Ford, who was near 600 yards rushing. The Aggies’ aerial attack was effective at times, though some quarterbacks could have probably made more noise with talent like Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil, Christian Kirk, and Ricky Seals-Jones at their disposal.

Kansas State definitely finished stronger, albeit against weaker opposition. Beating Baylor and TCU just doesn’t mean what it used to, but hats off to the Bill Snyder-led Wildcats for a strong finish with 5 wins in their last 6 games and three straight wins. They can really run the ball on offense, while their defense was one of the best against the run. And they allowed just over 21 points a game on the season.

KSU quarterback Jesse Ertz was gutty this year, battered at times, but still able to hang in there and commandeer this group to a respectable season. This is not a very aerially-inclined offense, with the Wildcats scoring on pass plays only 9 times this season with less than 2000 yards of total production. Ertz did, however, throw only 4 interceptions on the season, while running for 945 yards and 10 TDs. Charles Jones, Alex Barnes, and Justin Silmon added on the ground. In their last game, a win over TCU, Ertz ran for 170 yards, with Silmon adding 133 yards and two scores. Byron Pringle leads all receivers, while also being a dangerous return man who has done damage this season.

The Kansas State defense delivered this season, especially late. Against the opposing run-games they faced, they were pretty darned good, giving up an average of just 113 yards a game. Against the pass was a different story. But they were a defense that was at least able to make plays, with a nice pass-rush, 23 secured turnovers, and even several scores. Defensive end Jordan Johnathan Willis was the conference’s top pass-rusher with 12 sacks. And in the secondary, Donnie Starks and D.J. Reed made a lot of positive plays.

Two seasons ago, Texas A&M was able to enter a bowl after a bad end to the season and beat a good Big 12 team in WVU. That might not matter much, but there are at least recent events to suggest something less than a complete letdown factor for the Aggies. The season may have soured late, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to phone this one in. There are a lot of seniors looking to end their college careers on good notes while using this as a possible audition for the next level. Still, with injuries, negative momentum, and a crescendoing Kansas State team to face, I see this as a rough spot for the Aggies. I’ll take the points.

Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Kansas State Wildcats plus 2 points.

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