Kansas State Wildcats vs. TCU Horned Frogs
Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 4 p.m. ET (FOX) at Amon G. Carter Stadium
The Spot: Explaining The Let-Down
With my college football betting picks, I want to fade TCU because it is in a negative betting spot called the let-down scenario. This scenario is created by two facts: TCU played Texas last week and is now heavily favored on the college football odds.
Playing Texas is always a big deal for the Horned Frogs because their head coach, Gary Patterson, absolutely hates Texas. He also has the perfect angle for his players, an angle that stirs their emotions up. In the state of Texas, the University of Texas is regarded as the state's "prestige" football school. If you’re playing at TCU or at another non-Longhorn Texas school, then you are there because you are not good enough to play at Texas.
Patterson plays up this angle and makes his players feel like they have something to prove. He makes them share his hatred for the Longhorns. This emotional component is crucial. TCU players come into the game with strong emotion and conclude the game with strong emotion.
Then, the let-down happens when they prepare for their next opponent. Horned Frog players are not nearly as excited to play Kansas State. This is a relatively boring game for them that they are supposed to win. So their level of emotion drops. Their enthusiasm evaporates. They appear sluggish, or unsharp, or something of the sort. Ultimately, they disappoint relative to expectations.
Let-Down By The Numbers
Real betting numbers substantiate what I mean. Since 2016, the Frogs are 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS in the game immediately following their clash with Texas. Among those four non-covers, they lost 30-6 as four-point favorites to K-State in 2016.
In 2018, they nearly lost as double-digit favorites to Iowa State.
Match-Up Advantage #1
When Wildcats outcompete TCU, they will particularly exploit TCU’s run defense. The Horned Frogs rank amongst the worst in the nation — 129th to be exact -- in allowing seven YPC. For comparison’s sake, K-State allows 4.8 YPC. Teams know that TCU’s run defense is weak and therefore choose to execute a high percentage of run plays.
One can identify an area of regression in the Frogs’ defensive line. Ross Blacklock was a second-round pick in the NFL Draft. With one exception, the Frogs could not find anybody proven or anybody who even played much in 2019 to man the d-line. The size differential will be tremendous between TCU’s defensive line and K-State’s offensive line. Whereas starters in the former unit average around 275 pounds, starters in the latter unit average 320 points.
Interestingly, the primary man who K-State blocks for is very small. Deuce Vaughn is just 5’5. After his tremendous outing behind a quickly, strongly improved o-line against the Red Raiders, he now averages 5.7 YPC on 36 carries after three games. Vaughn truly plays bigger than his size. It may be more accurate just to call him strong because he uses his superior lower body strength and his leverage to drive forward after contact.
He also uses his shiftiness to avoid taking direct hits. Given his body control and wiggle ability, it’s not easy to repel him for a loss. K-State’s advantage on the ground will allow it to keep possession by sustaining drives. In addition to increasing its scoring output, running well will give its defense more rest time.
Match-Up Advantage #2
Offensively, TCU revolves around its quarterback Max Duggan. He has more than twice as many rush attempts as any of his teammates. Behind an offensive line that ranks 116th in sack percentage, Duggan will be running for his life, though, against a K-State pass rush led by former All-Big 12 defensive end Wyatt Hubert. Hubert is a reliable sack-getter — he has two so far this season.
Kirmari Gainous, a high-rated JUCO prospect, is also living up to his hype. He has two sacks as well so far.
With one of the nation’s better pass rushes, K-State’s ability to pressure Duggan makes life easier for its secondary. Cornerback A.J. Parker is an Honorable All-Big 12 guy who leads the Wildcat defense with the most experience.
The situation favors Kansas State absolutely. TCU won’t just magically collapse, though. What will happen is that its match-up disadvantages will be magnified and exploited more radically by K-State. With its tiny, but also huge, ground game, and with its multi-level pass defense, K-State will pull off an upset. Expect that to happen with your college football betting picks.