Texas A&M vs. Kansas State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the Texas Bowl between the Aggies and Wildcats.
Texas A&M vs. Kansas State, Texas Bowl Preview
When: Wednesday, December 28 – 9:00 p.m. ET
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
A couple of former Big 12 rivals renew acquaintances in a Texas Bowl showdown at Houston’s NRG Stadium. Texas A&M, which left the Big 12 to join the SEC in 2012, will be looking to finish this up-and-down year on a high note. The Aggies were one of the country’s biggest first-half surprises, starting 6-0 and elevating to No. 6 in the polls. But the team never recovered from an Oct. 22 loss at Alabama, which set the stage for four consecutive league defeats to close the regular season. A&M, and especially Kevin Sumlin, hope to use this game to reboot and redirect the narrative heading into 2017.
Kansas State exceeded expectations by winning eight this year. What else is new with the venerable Bill Snyder in Manhattan? The Cats can move to 5-0 in 2016 versus teams from Texas, having already defeated Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor and TCU.
What To Know About Texas A&M
The Aggies are littered with elite talent, like the Christian Kirk-led receiving corps and ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall collapsing pockets. But when the decline started, Sumlin was powerless to stop it. It’s going to help to have QB Trevor Knight back at full strength after he missed a pair of November games. He won’t unnerve the Kansas State secondary with his arm talent, but his leadership and running ability are what helped spark A&M to its fast start. The defense, which boasts a lot of quality parts, will need to do some soul-searching this month after getting shoved around on the ground by Mississippi State and LSU in the final month.
What to Know About Kansas State
The Wildcats were paced all year by a seasoned, salty defense that led the Big 12 in several categories. DE Jordan Willis, who has 11.5 sacks, wants to outshine Garrett, and LB Elijah Lee and SS Dante Barnett could have futures on Sunday. While it’s tough running on the K-State front seven, the corners have been beatable.
Without many attaboys, the offense played a bigger than advertised role in the team’s 5-1 finish, scoring at least 30 in each of the last five games. Everything revolves around QB Jesse Ertz who, like Knight, is more of a threat with his feet than his arm. Ertz has only thrown eight touchdown passes, but he’s rushed for a team-high 945 yards and 10 scores.
Offense: Texas A&M. The quarterbacks are similar, but the Aggies have better weapons, like Kirk and big-play rookie RB Trayveon Williams.
Defense: Kansas State. The Aggies have the bigger names. The Wildcats have produced more consistently in a league littered with wide-open attacks and gunslinging quarterbacks.
Special Teams: Push. And for positive reasons. Both teams feature dangerous return men, like Kirk and Wildcats Byron Pringle and Dominique Heath, and strong-legged kicking specialists.
Coaching: Kansas State. Even at the age of 77, Snyder is still one of the top coaches in the game, as evidenced by the results from a program that does not attract and sign blue-chip recruits.
Intangibles: Kansas State. Bowl games are still a big deal for the Wildcats, but it remains to be seen if the Aggies are still motivated after suffering through a second-half fall from upper echelon of the rankings.
Matchup To Watch
Kirk and the Texas A&M receivers vs. Kansas State corners Duke Shelley and D.J. Reed
Sumlin might want to air it out a little more than normal in the Texas Bowl. He’s indoors, his quarterback is healthy again and his receivers will hold a significant edge over the undersized Wildcat corners. Kirk is a dynamic playmaker, but Speedy Noil, Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones can be handfuls, too, when properly utilized in the passing game.
Texas A&M vs. Kansas State Betting Odds
Spread: No line as of post
Over/Under: No line as of post
Texas A&M vs. Kansas State Prediction
Tough call, because so much hinges on the Aggies’ motivation for this game. They have better overall talent than Kansas State and more options on offense. Plus, a month away from contact and live action should afford them a chance to treat the Texas Bowl like a fresh start. Knight will be instrumental in unlocking the offense’s potential, while John Chavis’ defense will have few problems solving a Wildcat attack that relies so heavily on Ertz and the one-dimensional ground game. For the first time since early October, Texas A&M will flash hints of the team that once appeared capable of challenging Alabama in the SEC West.
Texas A&M vs. Kansas State Score Prediction: Texas A&M 34, Kansas State 23
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: Texas A&M
Jeff Bartl: Texas A&M
Rich Cirminiello: Texas A&M
Robert Judin: Texas A&M
Pete Fiutak: Kansas State