The best sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for this week’s college football action.
One game, in particular, interests me as worth investing in:
These teams are playing for the Big 12 Championship. Moreover, TCU is undefeated and wants to win in order to secure a spot in the College Football Playoffs, but Kansas State would love to play spoiler.
Kansas State Wildcats vs. TCU Horned Frogs
Saturday, December 3, 2022 – 12:00 PM EST at AT&T Stadium
The First Meeting
It is easy to think that this game will go "Over" the posted total because of the high-scoring output that both teams combined for in their first meeting.
On October 22, TCU defeated Kansas State 38-28. Combining for 66 points, both teams contributed significantly to the "Over" in that game, but important features of that game distinguish it from Saturday's upcoming contest.
Martinez and Howard Mark the Difference
Adrian Martinez started as quarterback for Kansas State because he was slated to be the starter, so TCU's defense prepared to face a K-State offense quarterbacked by Martinez.
New starter Will Howard is arguably the better passer; Howard's passer rating is almost 39 points higher than Martinez's and he has 7 more passing touchdowns in 52 fewer pass attempts. Martinez, though, is more successful as a runner.
Their skill sets are different. And because they are so different, they demand different methods of preparation. Howard, upon entering the game as the quarterback who TCU did not prepare for, made an immediate impact. He helped K-State reach 28 points by halftime, but that's all the scoring that his team would accomplish.
As part of its tremendous comeback win, TCU adjusted and stopped Howard. They will be ready for him especially since they are able to prepare for him.
The Over/Under for this upcoming rematch is 61.5 This total is vastly higher than it was in their first meeting; it was 54.5.
Is Howard that much better than Martinez? The statistical increase in productivity with Howard at quarterback is undeniable, but the question is the extent to or ways in which these statistics matter for Saturday.
With Howard as the starter, K-State scored 48 against Oklahoma State, 48 against West Virginia, and 47 against Kansas. These point totals are high, but I don't find them impressive.
All 3 of those teams rank outside the top 100 nationally at limiting opposing scoring. They all rank around 60 to 80 sports worse than TCU in scoring defense.
Saturday's total is, therefore, crudely being inflated because of the positive public perception that is attached to Howard because his offense faced soft defensive tests.
TCU Defense's Outlook
Kansas State is hyped up as an offense that is dangerous both in the air and on the ground, but we already know that Howard shouldn't elicit TCU defenders' worry because they'll get to prepare for this quarterback, who they already successfully adjusted to and who they shut out for the entire second half of their first meeting.
It is true that K-State also has a productive running back, but the Horned Frog run defense is well-tested. For example, they stymied Longhorn running back Bijan Robinson.
While he has accrued 1,580 rushing yards this season, Robinson mustered all of 29 rushing yards on 12 carries against TCU. It was by far his worst performance of the season.
TCU Offense's Outlook
Howard does not compare to TCU quarterback Max Duggan. Duggan is more efficient and has thrown 29 touchdowns to 3 interceptions.
Most recently, he thrived against Iowa State's 6th-ranked pass defense. This success attests to the extent to which he is well-tested. He benefits from having a running back in Kendre Miller who has rushed for 1,280 yards so far.
The Wildcat run defense is not nearly as well-tested as TCU's. Bijan Robinson, for example, ran for over 200 rushing yards against them.
Miller poses another tough test after amassing 153 rushing yards in their first meeting.
Possibly hung over after an incredibly tight win against then-undefeated Oklahoma State, the Horned Frog offense started slowly against K-State. Their finish exhibited the powerfulness of their offense.
It would take a lot of points (too many points) from the Horned Frogs to endanger the "Under."
TCU's defensive success will ensure that the "Under" hits and that TCU covers the spread. For the above reasons, parlay the Horned Frogs with the "Under."
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