Big 12 Championship Odds & Picks: Our TCU vs. Kansas State Best Bets
Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images & Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images. Pictured from left: TCU Horned Frogs running back Kendre Miller (33) and Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents (23).
Big 12 Championship Odds
#3TCU vs. #10Kansas State
-110o / -110u
|Kansas State Odds|
-110o / -110u
By Dan Keegan
A pair of purple powerhouses collide in Arlington, Texas, with the Big 12 crown on the line. These two teams were both popular preseason picks to dethrone the league’s blue bloods and recent bullies, and their destinies collide with playoff stakes on the line for TCU.
The Horned Frogs jumped to the top of the league standings with their magical undefeated season, and they have an inside track for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Head coach Sonny Dykes has orchestrated this storybook campaign, turning a talented and previously underperforming roster into one of the top teams in the country.
The Frogs are powered by a trio of stars on offense; quarterback Max Duggan distributes the ball to his explosive playmakers, running back Kendre Miller and wide receiver Quentin Johnston.
The defense is fast and athletic, and coordinator Joe Gillespie is known for his excellent second-half adjustments.
TCU has made hay all season with clutch plays and big second-half comebacks, including in its first matchup against these Wildcats, which it won by a score of 38-28.
Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez was lost to injury early in that contest, and backup Will Howard led the opening volley. The Wildcats jumped out to a 28-10 lead before TCU finished strong and blanked them in the second half — those famous Gillespie adjustments.
Howard will again be under center for Kansas State this weekend; he has unlocked a new dimension for the offense with his passing ability, something that was lacking in the Martinez-led attack.
The Wildcats are an excellent, well-balanced team, and this short line reflects their ability to challenge undefeated TCU.
Do the Frogs have another strong finishing move in their arsenal, or will Kansas State break its second-half magic for the first time this season?
We polled 14 of our college football experts in order to find a consensus on how to approach this matchup. Let’s take a look at their collective insight.
TCU vs. Kansas State Point Spread
By Doug Ziefel
The Horned Frogs were 3.5-point favorites when these two teams met in October. While it took a tremendous second-half comeback for them to cover in that one, we believe that they will do so again at a better number.
TCU’s comeback stemmed from its most significant edge — the ground game.
Kendre Miller rushed for 129 yards and scored twice in the first matchup against Kansas State, and he should receive another heavy workload this time around as well.
The key to the rushing attack starts up front, as the Horned Frogs outrank the Wildcats, 72-103, in Line Yards. TCU should be able to win up front consistently, and if Kansas State overcommits, Duggan will burn them down the field.
On the other side of the ball, TCU must contain Deuce Vaughn. It did a fairly good job of doing so in the first meeting, as he totaled just 83 yards.
The Horned Frogs should also be much more prepared for Will Howard, as he had some success coming in off the bench against them. However, with a regular amount of time to prepare, we should see a more typical performance from the secondary, which ranks ninth in opponent completion percentage allowed.
Lastly, there has been market support for the Horned Frogs all week. We’ve seen this number rise from 1.5 at open. It will not be surprising if it steams to three once limits increase, as we all know how key the number three has become.
Staff Pick: TCU -2.5
TCU vs. Kansas State Over/Under
When these two teams met back in October they combined for 66 points in a game where the total was 54.5. Now, that number sits at 62, and we believe it will go over once again.
TCU should be back at full strength offensively with Quentin Johnston appearing on schedule to play in this one.
The Frogs went for 62 on their own last Saturday against a top-20 Iowa State defense in cold and rainy conditions. Now, they head indoors to the turf at Jerry World, with the offense firing on all cylinders.
Kansas State’s defense is sound, but it should give up its fair share of chunk plays to TCU just as it did in the first matchup between these two.
On the other side of the ball, Deuce Vaughn’s explosiveness will play a key role. The Wildcats star will be playing in arguably the biggest game of his career and will be dangerous every time he touches the ball.
Will Howard has earned the right to be the man leading the Cats at quarterback, and the senior has looked really comfortable in recent weeks.
This should be a back-and-forth contest throughout, with Max Duggan continuing to lean on his legs when the Horned Frogs get into the red zone.
When Kansas State crosses midfield and gets into scoring position, it has the type of balance a team needs to attack an improved TCU defense under Joe Gillespie.
Ultimately, the advantages lie with both offenses in this game, which should lead to plenty of points and some quick scores.
We’re rolling with the over in what should be a great battle in Arlington.
Staff Pick: Over 62
Other Ways to Bet the Big 12 Championship
Kansas State -2.5 (+134)
There are plenty of reasons to believe Kansas State is for real after Will Howard replaced the hobbled Adrian Martinez.
The transitive law of college football is by no means a holy grail but does provide good insight into the quarterback change that occurred at midseason for the Wildcats.
Kansas State ended Big 12 play as the hottest team in the conference, beating Baylor 31-3, West Virginia 48-31 and Kansas 47-27.
By way of comparison, TCU needed a buzzer-beating field goal to get past Baylor, beat West Virginia by seven fewer points and beat Kansas by 13 fewer points.
During this final three-game stretch, Howard was Mr. Reliable, completing 65.3% of his passes and throwing seven touchdowns to just one interception.
Howard, a 6-foot-5 pro-style quarterback, has a very favorable matchup in this game against a Horned Frogs defense that ranks 87th in the nation in passing defense, allowing 238.7 yard per game through the air.
Look for Howard to make a statement in the championship game and solidify himself as a future star of the Big 12.
The 14th-ranked Kansas State defense will also be looking for payback after allowing the most points of the season in the first meeting in Fort Worth.
I think the luck of TCU comes to a halt in Arlington and see Kansas State winning by a touchdown late.