It's nearly 1 a.m. as I write this, so we're going to keep things relatively brief here.
K-State rolls into this weekened's home matchup with Texas Christian on a three-game winning streak. The Wildcats have rescued what looked like a lost season after consecutive losses to Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor, and now stand on the precipice of bowl eligibility. Not exactly the loftiest standard in today's college football world, but with remaining games against the struggling Oklahoma Sooners and the conference's doormat down the river, K-State could somehow finish 8-4. Realistically, even.
Texas Christian is headed mostly in the opposite direction, although the Horned Frogs did get a win over Iowa State last weekend in Ames. Just ignore that they had to score a touchdown with less than a minute remaining to continue Iowa State's winless season in Big 12 play and it sounds a little better. TCU still has slim bowl eligibility hopes at 4-6, and you know Gary Patterson and Dick Bumpas will bring a stout defense to The Little Apple.
Players to Watch
Passing: Jake Waters, 101-159-5, 1,456 yards, 9.2 yards/attempt, 8 TDs, 161.8 yards/game
Rushing: John Hubert, 137 carries, 706 yards, 5.2 yards/carry, 8 TDs, 78.4 yards/game
Receiving: Tyler Lockett, 48 receptions, 702 yards, 14.6 yards/reception, 4 TDs, 87.8 yards/game
Passing: Casey Pachall, 90-158-6, 953 yards, 6.0 yards/attempt, 3 TDs, 190.6 yards/game
Rushing: B.J. Catalon, 84 carries, 405 yards, 4.8 yards/carry, 5 TDs, 45.0 yards/game
Receiving: LaDarius Brown, 32 receptions, 322 yards, 10.1 yards/reception, 1 TD, 32.2 yards/game
With Pachall injured most of the season, Trevone Boykin has taken most of the snaps at quarterback. Boykin's passing line is 103-174-7, 1,176 yards, 6.8 yards/attempt, 5 TDs, 117.6 yards/game. He's a solid rushing quarterback, even if the stats (3.1 yards per carry, unadjusted for sacks) don't show it.
The stats above show it pretty plainly. TCU does not have a big-play offense, and their efficiency is also questionable (as you'll see below). With K-State's defense playing much more disciplined lately, the Frogs will have to sustain long drives to score in Manhattan. Thus far this season, they've been unable to do so.
K-State Advanced Stats
Offensive S&P+: 17th
Rushing S&P+: 16th
Passing S&P+: 20th
Drive Efficiency: 17th
Standard Downs S&P+: 17th
Passing Downs S&P+: 31st
Defensive S&P+: 33rd
Rushing S&P+: 74th
Passing S&P+: 12th
Drive Efficiency: 31st
Standard Downs S&P+: 50th
Passing Downs S&P+: 9th
Special Teams F/+: 7th
Texas Christian Advanced Stats
Offensive S&P+: 101st
Rushing S&P+: 108th
Passing S&P+: 86th
Drive Efficiency: 107th
Standard Downs S&P+: 88th
Passing Downs S&P+: 106th
Defensive S&P+: 16th
Rushing S&P+: 22nd
Passing S&P+: 26th
Drive Efficiency: 18th
Standard Downs S&P+: 8th
Passing Downs S&P+: 38th
Special Teams F/+: 76th
TCU's defense is legitimately good, bordering on excellent. The Frogs are in the top quarter of the country in everything except defending on passing downs. Fortunately for our friends from Forth Worth, that's K-State's biggest offensive weakness. And when you factor in that TCU's offense is 106th on Passing Downs, don't expect a lot of third-down conversions in this game.
Given TCU's offensive ineptitude and K-State's recent defensive resurgence, it's unlikely the Frogs are going to put many points on the board. And while TCU's defense is solid at taking the ball away from its opponents with 25 on the season, the offense is almost as good at giving it back, with 24 turnovers on the season. Between Pachall and Boykin, there's a very good chance that one of K-State's defenders will find a pass in his hands at some point.
Conclusion: Against a defense like TCU's, don't expect a repeat of last week's points outburst in Lubbock. K-State will do well to crack 30 points this time around. And there's a good chance that this one is still somewhat close going to the final quarter. Remember that K-State only led 13-0 at halftime last year.
Still, despite TCU's vaunted defense, this game looks like a K-State win to me. The Frogs just can't score points, and between that and their turnover propensity, K-State is probably going to have plenty of opportunities to kill the clock. Combine that with a K-State defense that takes away big plays and feasts on quarterbacks who can't consistently hit short passes in small windows, and the under (whatever it is) looks like a good bet in this one.
Bill Connelly's F/+ picks peg this one as a 28-10 K-State win, with the Wildcats nearly a 90-percent bet to win. I won't depart far from that. There's a good chance this one looks an awful lot like the Iowa State game.
K-State 31, Texas Christian 7