Texas Bowl Should Provide Plenty Of Points

Texas A&M Player Running With Ball

Willie Bee

Thursday, December 22, 2016 3:20 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 3:20 PM UTC

Texas A&M started strong in 2016 but petered out to close the season (as usual). Kansas State was slow in the first half before finishing strong. So does that make our college football pick for their Dec. 28 Texas Bowl in Houston an easy call?

It was a tale of two halves for the A&M this season, the Aggies bolting to a 6-0 start and No. 4 standing in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Things then dell apart for Coach Kevin Sumlin's squad, something that has become a disturbing trend in SEC play in College Station.

A mediocre start to 2016 plagued Kansas State, the Wildcats stumbling out of the gate 3-3 with two early Big 12 setbacks putting them in a hole. Bill Snider's gang rebounded, however, with five wins in the last six to send the school to a seventh straight bowl.

The two former conference rivals get together in Houston on Dec. 28 at the Texas Bowl, kickoff at NRG Stadium a little past 9 p.m. ET. BetOnline has the Aggies -2½, right where the spread started a couple of weeks back, with 57½ for the total, up a point from the opener.


Can Aggies Take Advantage Of K-State Pass Defense?

The fast start by Texas A&M (8-4 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) came both on the field and at the window. The Aggies covered their first four games to look like true national contenders in September, but they haven't beaten the college football odds since.

We all thought a month or so ago that QB Trevor Knight had taken his last collegiate snap following a shoulder injury in the loss to Mississippi State, but he returned in time for the finale vs. LSU and is probable for this one. Knight isn't going to have Speedy Noil for a downfield target, however, after the junior was arrested and ultimately suspended for a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

Kansas State (8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) won its final three, two of them road upsets at Baylor and TCU. The ground game sparked the strong close to the season, though the Wildcats were vulnerable throughout 2016 vs. the pass, ranking eighth in the Big 12 in allowing 269 YPG.

There are injury concerns here, starting with defensive starters Charmeachealle Moore and Duke Shelley. They rank 2nd and 7th, respectively, on the team in tackles this year. Left guard Abdul Beecham is questionable as well, forcing Snider to dips into his offensive line depth. Freshman reserve tailback Alex Barnes also sits on the iffy list with a stinger, while kicker Matthew McCrane is questionable with a hip that cost the junior the last four games of the regular season. Senior Ian Patterson replaced McCrane and was good on 2-of-3 field-goal attempts.


History Says Expect Plenty Of Points

These schools met four times as interconference foes from 1913-95, then 11 more times as Big 12 rivals before A&M left for the SEC beginning in 2012. Kansas State won the final three matchups to close on the Aggies' 8-7 series lead, the Wildcats averaging 53 points per game in those clashes. Each of those games went past the totals, as one would imagine, to send 'over' bettors back to the pay window the last five times the Aggies and Wildcats collided.

The long-range forecast calls for temps in the mid-70s for Houston on game day, but also calls for a 20% chance of rain; my guess is they shut the roof. My free college football pick forecast whether it's open or not is for more points than what are on the board right now. Season record: 26-23-3 (+1.40 units).

NCAAF Free Pick: 'Over' 57.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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