Kansas State (8-4) vs Texas A&M (8-4)
When: Wednesday, December 28th 2016
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Kansas State Wildcats and Texas A&M Aggies will renew their Big 12 rivalry for one game as they square off in the Texas Bowl from Houston, Texas on December 28th. Texas A&M leads the all-time series 8-7, but Kansas State has won the last three meetings with the most recent being a four-overtime triumph in 2011 that helped the Wildcats earn bowl eligibility under legendary coach Bill Snyder, who is set to embark on his 19th postseason appearance with the Wildcats. The Wildcats ran for nearly 2,800 yards and 36 touchdowns as a team with each of their top five runners averaging at least five yards per carry. Quarterback Jesse Ertz (945 yards) should see plenty of action on the ground against an Aggies unit that allowed at least 250 rushing yards in four of their final five games against Power 5 conference teams. The Wildcats don’t get much help from their passing attack, as Ertz’s season high is 207 passing yards and he only has eight TD passes on the year. However, Ertz has 10 rushing scores – second on the team behind Winston Dimel’s 12 – and gets plenty of help from Charles Jones (577 yards), Alex Barnes (442) and Justin Silmon (387). Kansas State’s defense has been getting better each week, as the team has allowed decreasing point totals in four straight games – 43, 21, 19 and most recently six points in its regular season-ending win against TCU. Kansas State is 1-7 in Bowl games since 2004.
The Aggies season started off great with talk about reaching the College Football Playoffs, but things turned ugly, quickly in College Station. Texas A&M was ranked No. 4 in the polls at one point after a 6-0 start, but they lost four of their final six games, including an ugly 54-39 setback to LSU in the regular-season finale. The Aggies allowed Derrius Guice to run for an LSU-record 285 yards in that contest, but they also couldn’t stop the Tigers’ passing game as Danny Etling torched them for 324 yards and two scores. Quarterback Trevor Knight (16 passing TDs, 10 rushing) hasn’t thrown for 250 yards in a game since early September, although Trayveon Williams (1,024 rushing yards, eight TDs) gives the team plenty of offensive balance. The offense is ranked 28th in FBS averaging 468.1 yards a game thanks to a solid rushing attack. The defense is a big problem, allowing 444.2 yards a game (90th) including 254.6 through the air (100th). First-team All-American defensive end Myles Garrett (8.5 sacks) is a force who could end up as the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. After several big names pulled out of their Bowl games, Garrett publicly announced that he would definitely play in this contest.
I don’t see how the Aggies can slow down the K-State running game and the Wildcats defense has been pretty good lately. This will probably be a tight game for a while, but I think the Wildcats pull away in the second half.
Pick: Kansas State +2.5