No. 23 Texas Longhorns (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. No. 7 Kansas State Wildcats (10-1 SU, 8-2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Saturday, December 1st, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Tex +11.5/KSU -11.5
Over/Under Total: 63
If watching the SEC Championship game Saturday afternoon wasn’t enough to scratch your college football itch, then maybe the regular season finale between the 23rd-ranked Texas Longhorns and the 7th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan late Saturday night on ABC will feed your football appetite.
K-State hasn’t played since their BCS title hopes were crushed on the road at Baylor, 52-24 (back on Nov. 17th), their only blemish this season. With 14 days to stew over what might have been, now the Wildcats will be playing for the right to stay in a BCS Bowl game, and cash a big payday, while at the same time try and advance the Heisman chances of their leader quarterback Collin Klein.
Texas also enters their finale on a down note, losing on Thanksgiving Day to cross-state now-rival TCU, 20-13. The Longhorns just couldn’t stop the Horned Frogs running game (gave up 217 yards), and four turnovers crushed any ideas of a late comeback as they dropped to 8-3 on the season and started the guessing games about whether head coach Mack Brown will survive another offseason in football-crazy Austin.
With Kansas State having so much more to play for, and Texas seemingly just playing out the rest of the schedule, oddsmakers opened the Saturday’s Big-12 clash with Kansas State as double-digit 10.5-point favorites at home. With a large percentage of the money coming in on the Wildcats, that number has been moved up to minus -11.5 at most sportsbooks and even as high as -12 or -12.5 at a few others.
The over/under total opened at 63.5 late in the week and has yet to move in either direction with just over 48 hours left before kickoff.
Like most teams in the Big 12 Conference, both Texas and Kansas State can play offense and put up big numbers on the scoreboard. Kansas State behind the running and throwing of Klein put up over 40 points a game this season (40.5 ppg - 11th in FBS), while Texas is just a notch below at 37.2 points per game (20th).
But where the Wildcats feature Klein and use him almost exclusively to lead the charge each week, the Longhorns almost have too many playmakers on offense, and since they use almost all of them there’s nobody that is featured and nobody that really has caught fire to lead the Longhorn attack every week.
Texas has used David Ash at quarterback for a majority of the season, but when he’s been ineffective the Longhorn staff hasn’t wasted time trotting Case McCoy out to take his place. With Ash nursing sore ribs from the TCU game (listed as questionable), the Wildcats will likely face both of them on Saturday. Texas has the same issues at running back, where freshman Johnathan Gray (654 yards, 3 TD), Joe Bergeron (562, 16), and Malcolm Brown (269, 3) have split so many carries all season long that nobody has really had a chance to step to the front and take control of the Longhorn running game (187 ypg- 41st).
With Texas having unusual issues on defense, namely stopping the run (allowing 202 ypg - 105th), you can expect a large dose of Klein and running back John Hubert (826 yards, 12 TD) to try and take advantage of that weakness. But after watching the Kansas State defense get carved apart by Baylor (342 yards rushing, 580 yards total), this game may turn into a track meet and the last tem with the ball might have the advantage.
Kansas State is the one Big 12 team that has given the Longhorns fits over the years, as the Wildcats have beaten Texas in four straight going back to the 2006 season, and that streak includes a 17-13 win last year in Austin and a 39-14 victory in Manhattan in 2010. You have to go all the way back to the 2002 season to find a Longhorns win on the road in Manhattan, so it’s been a decade since Texas has found a way to beat the Wildcats on their own turf.
Most of the betting trends point in Kansas State’s favor too, especially since the Wildcats are traditionally a solid wager in Big 12 play (23-7-1 ATS in L31 Big 12 games) and also since Texas hasn’t covered against them in their last five attempts (0-5 ATS in L5 meetings).
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The era of Texas dominating the Big 12 is certainly long gone, in fact, I can’t remember the last time Texas has been so huge an underdog in a conference game (only a 3-point dog to Oklahoma, 6.5-point dog at Texas Tech). But the fact that Texas has played some tough road games this year (at Okla. St, at Ole Miss., at Texas Tech) and won them all straight up, you can almost make the argument that they play better away from the pressure of the Austin crowd. I doubt the Longhorns can steal one in Manhattan, but I don’t think they’ll lose by double digits. I’m taking Texas plus the points.
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