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Big 12 Football Pick
Everyone may be talking about the bigger teams: Alabama, Oregon, two more SEC teams and even West Virginia, but Kansas State is getting left out of the picture. They dominated Kansas last week and still were jumped by three other teams in the rankings. The Wildcats have blown out everyone they should have and won at Oklahoma two weeks ago. This team is for real. Their true challenges are about to begin now, though. Their next two games are on the road against Iowa State and West Virginia.
Iowa State is a surprising 4-1 and No. 25 in the Coaches poll. They just went to TCU and beat the Horned Frogs convincingly 37-23. They also took out in-state rivals Iowa earlier in the year. The Cyclones only loss was at home against a legitimate Texas Tech squad. While Kansas State are more than touchdown favorites in this game, it will not be as easy as some people think.
In last year's game in Manhattan, KS, the Wildcats needed a late fourth quarter touchdown to cement a 30-23 win. The Cyclones actually outgained Kansas State yardage wise if that says anything about how close it was. That game was a cold and wet one which led to two teams going all out in the running game. Even if this game isn't battered by weather, there will most likely be plenty of running once again.
Kansas State averages over 260 yards per game on the ground which is in the Top 10 in the nation. Quarterback Collin Klein leads the charge with 73 carries for 405 yards and seven TDs. Not many people talk about it, but Klein also has 887 passing yards and seven TDs with a 67 percent completion rate (up 10 percent from a season ago). He runs a lot, but his passing has improved a lot in 2012. The other main cog in the Wildcats running game is running back John Hubert who has 527 yards and eight touchdowns. He has rushed for over 100 yards in four of five games this year.
Iowa State will need to stop the running game to stand a chance. Even though they beat TCU, Iowa State still allowed 185 yards on the ground. In their loss to Texas Tech, they allowed just 63 yards on 30 carries so they have shown they have the strength to do it.
The Cyclones offense isn't their strong suit, but they may have turned the corner in their last game. Jared Barnett was given the start against TCU over Steele Jantz who started the first four games. Barnett only threw for 183 yards, but he also tossed three touchdowns. Jantz had seven TDs and seven INTs in four games. After that game, it's likely Barnett will start once again. He has a few viable targets in the air, but senior wide out Josh Lenz looked like the main option last week after collecting all three TDs from Barnett for 147 yards. Iowa State has a dual threat backfield with James White and Shontrelle Johnson who have combined for 493 yards, but just three touchdowns. Barnett also ran for 30 yards against TCU.
However, unlike a lot of high-scoring teams, Kansas State has a stout defense as well. They are giving up just over 15 points per game and have already stopped Landry Jones and Oklahoma to 19 points. The Wildcat defense is one of the main reasons they sit as favorites in Ames.
Kansas State has won four straight games in what many people call 'Farmageddon'. The spread hasn't been as kind though as it's split 5-5 in the past 10 matchups. Because of their ground game and defense, the Wildcats are 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games and 4-1 ATS overall. The Cyclones are 4-1 ATS in their last five conference games. The under has hit four times in the last five meetings in Iowa State.
This is a series that Iowa State held the upper hand in until 1990 when the tables turned. Since then, it's been all Kansas State, going 18-4 since then with an average score of 34-17. But while the majority of those games were Kansas State blowouts early on, things started to change in 2004. Iowa State won two in a row in 2004 and 2005 and then again in 2007. Since 2007, Iowa State has lost 4 in a row, but by margins of 8, 1, 7 and 7. This all suggests that the talent gap has closed and that Iowa State may be ready to break through with a win.
We show Iowa State as having played the more difficult schedule thus far, yet their numbers are very good, almost identical to Kansas States. Iowa State weighs in with the 14th best yards per point defensive number in the nation at 21.3, right behind #11 Kansas State at 23.2. Kansas State gets the nod offensively as their numbers put them at #4 in the nation with a blistering 10, but Iowa State still respectable and in good company with a 13.6. We are at the point in this season where these numbers start to tell a story. The story they tell, is that these two are a couple of pretty good football teams.
The 4 straight losses in this series for Iowa State means there are very few if any players on this roster who have experienced a win over Kansas State. They have come close, but just couldn't get it done. Here, they have a team that is no doubt better than the last 4 and they get to play this one at home. Our model shows Kansas State on top, but just by a score of 21-17. We like Iowa State here. Currently, it's the number, +6.5, that is keeping us from pulling the trigger. We could have had +7 or even +7.5 earlier in the week. At this point, we will watch the board and will likely play Iowa State for real at +7 or better. Right now, we'll put this out as a strong opinion only. But be sure to check back! Iowa State +6.5.
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