A pair of Big 12 teams still fighting to become bowl eligible will square off this week when the Kansas Jayhawks host the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The fun gets started at 3:30 EST on Saturday, November 17, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas. The game can be seen on ESPNU.
Texas Tech is holding steady as a 6.5-point favorite on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 58.5 points. Click here to see all of the college football betting odds for this week’s games.
If you’ve watched them play, it seems like Texas Tech is noticeably better this year than they’ve been in past years. That being said, the Red Raiders are back where they usually are, which is fighting at the end of November to get a bowl spot. In Kliff Kingsbury’s five seasons as head coach, Tech has gone to a bowl game three times, but they always seem to be on the cusp and in need of a win or two late in the year.
At the moment, the Red Raiders are 5-5 overall on the heels of three straight losses, albeit against three teams currently in the top-20. Texas Tech just needs one more win to reach a bowl game in back-to-back years for the first time since 2013.
Of course, Texas Tech is in a little better shape than K-State, who is 4-6 heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. The Wildcats needed a late touchdown just to survive a game against in-state rival Kansas last week. Otherwise, they could have seen their bowl hopes end with two games left.
Bill Snyder has taken Kansas State to eight consecutive bowl games, so not reaching six wins would be a huge letdown and a big surprise for one of the most consistent programs in the Big 12. The Wildcats will have to beat both Texas Tech this week and Iowa State next week if they want to prevent that bowl streak from coming to an end.
The good news for Snyder and company is that they’ve had their way with Texas Tech in recent years. The Wildcats have won six of their last seven games with the Red Raiders, including a 42-35 win in Lubbock last season. Tech hasn’t won in Manhattan since 2008, so this game will truly test if this year is any different for the Red Raiders or not.
I’m not blaming Texas Tech for any of their recent losses. But it’s tough to pick a road favorite that has had their confidence shaken over the last month. I also think Kansas State provides a tough matchup for the Red Raiders. With the Wildcats being at home and desperate for a win, I think they’ll have a chance to pull off the upset. At the very least, I’ll lean toward K-State to beat the spread.
The first thing worth mentioning is that Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman is doubtful to play after suffering a partially collapsed lung for the second time this season two weeks ago. Backup Jett Duffey played exceptionally well last week against Texas. However, there is definitely a drop-off between the two when it comes to the passing game, and that could be a problem against Kansas State.
The Wildcats have flown under the radar this season because of their poor record, but they still have a strong defense. If you don’t include Oklahoma, the K-State defense is giving up just 22 points per game against Big 12 teams. In seven conference games, they’ve held opponents under 20 points four times. Even with the Red Raiders averaging better than 41 points per game, the Kansas State defense will have a chance to keep them to a total that could make it tough to cover the spread.
I also think the Kansas State offense could pose some problems for the Red Raiders. Unlike most Big 12 teams, the Wildcats like to do their work on the ground. Alex Barnes is a workhorse back who has rushed for over 100 yards in four of his last five games, totaling nine rushing touchdowns during that span. With his 5.3 yards per carry and quarterback Alex Delton also being a threat with his legs, Kansas State won’t score a lot of points, but they’ll control the clock and keep the Texas Tech offense off the field.
For much of the season, the Texas Tech defense has held up well against the run. However, they’ve never really stopped an opponent’s ground game completely. They also haven’t faced a team that will stay committed to the running game. The more carries Barnes gets, the more dangerous he will be, so there’s always a chance of the Texas Tech defense wearing down late in the game. That could spell trouble for the Red Raiders in a close game.
With Kansas State able to slow down the tempo of the game with their defense and running game, I like the Wildcats to at least beat the spread in this game. Keep in mind that three of K-State’s five Big 12 losses have come by less than a touchdown. They’re not an easy team to blow out, and I think that will continue to be the case this week. Even if the Wildcats don’t win, they will beat the spread.