College Football Picks: Kansas State vs. Texas

Willie Bee

Friday, September 20, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Kansas State and Texas open their Big 12 schedules this Saturday night under the lights in Austin, and we have you covered with a preview and free college football pick.

Something stinks in Austin, and it ain't the panhandlers down on 6th Street.

Off and on the coaching hot seat the past few seasons, Mack Brown is definitely feeling heat on his backside as the Texas Longhorns prepare to open their Big 12 schedule with a visit from the Kansas State Wildcats, the last team to beat the 'horns in a conference opener. We'll get back to that a little later.

First and foremost, the NCAA odds for the matchup which is also Kansas State's conference cherry. Texas went out -6 on the college football betting spread, the NCAA odds also opening with 58 for the total. The spread has since moved down to 5.5 on the Longhorns with the total inching up a half-notch to 58.5. Prime-time coverage for the affair is on ABC's schedule (8 PM ET), meaning I'll have the mute button activated to avoid hearing Brent Musburger's voice.

Run Defense Only One Of Longhorns' Problems

For someone like myself, who has watched Texas defenses so often dominate the defensive line of scrimmage, it is jaw-dropping to see the Longhorns give up more than 900 rushing yards in the first three games, 550 to Brigham Young alone. You have to tip your hat to BYU and Ole Miss on the offensive side of that the last two weeks, but UT's adjustments -- What adjustments?! -- have been equally to blame.

Rolling New Mexico State in the season opener had Austin on a high, but hey, baby, everyone has to come down eventually, or so a friend told me in 1974 just blocks from Memorial Stadium. My memory shows an 81% chance that really happened, though some reports have it occurring in 1989. Regardless, Longhorn Nation has really taken a belly-flop since Week 1, and the rush defense isn't the only thing that needs fixin', if you'll allow me to paraphrase Coach Mack.

The offense has also struggled to find any consistency, due in part to injuries to three key players. David Ash suffered a concussion in the loss to BYU and missed the follow-up game with Ole Miss. The junior QB was back at practice this week, but remains a question mark for Saturday's tilt. If Ash can't go, conventional wisdom says Case McCoy will start once again after going 24-for-36 with nearly 200 yards in the air vs. Mississippi. And if McCoy can't get the offense moving? Speculation around Austin is that we might see freshman Tyrone Swoopes.

Also questionable for the KSU game are senior receiver Mike Davis, who rolled an ankle in the loss to Ole Miss, and soph RB Daje Johnson who may not return from his ankle injury for 3-4 more weeks.

Check out our Week 4 College Football Opening Odds Report~

Wildcats Face First True Test On 2013 Schedule

It's not like Bill Snyder and K-State arrive in Austin without their own problems. The Wildcats lost their season opener to North Dakota State, a 12.5-point underdog, and trailed early last Saturday against UMass who was getting 37.5 from the oddsmakers. All three of their games have been at home, and KSU now faces back-to-back road tests at Texas this week followed by a week off before going to Stillwater to meet Oklahoma State.

Snyder's offense didn't exactly rip through their lesser opponents as the team adjusts to life without former star QB Collin Klein. Jake Waters has completed nearly 69% of his passes for 673 yards, but the junior has also tossed five interceptions in less than three full games after resting much of the second half in last Saturday's 37-7 win vs. Massachusetts.

After the ground game struggled a bit in the first two games, KSU got things going vs. UMass with 329 yards. The question remains if the Wildcats can continue that vs. Texas, even with the woeful state of the Longhorns rush defense.

This has been a one-sided series on the field and against the spread since the schools hooked up in the Big 12. Kansas State has won seven of nine conference meetings, including the last five, and covered them all. The Wildcats are 3-1 in the four games played in Austin, and Texas' only losses in Big 12 openers came against, you guessed it, Kansas State in 1998, their first meeting as conference foes, and 2007.

The calendar might say the first day of autumn is Sunday, but it will still be summer in Texas come Saturday night. A wet Friday is supposed to be followed by a muggy Saturday when temps only reach the mid-80s. After 100º+ summer, it's perfectly acceptable to say only the mid-80s. . It should still be in the mid-70s at kickoff, with an 8-12 mph north wind that will favor the team facing the south end zone at DKR Memorial Stadium.

 

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As bad as Texas has been the last two weeks and as good as Kansas State has been in this series, it's difficult not to take the points. Still, I'm going to get behind the Longhorns for my free pick. Bevo backers get the cash, Texas 31-23.

My pick: Texas -5.5 (-110) at Bet365