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Texas Bowl Pick

Kansas State

vs.

Texas A&M

12/28/16

Former conference foes meet in this year's Texas Bowl with the flailing Texas A&M taking on Kansas State in Houston, only about 90 minutes from A&M's campus. And that's part of the reason why the Aggies were -2.5 point favorites as seen at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.

Texas A&M was considered one of the best teams in the nation at a time, but then the loss to Alabama came and the Aggies sank to two wins in their final six games. Those two wins came against New Mexico State and UTSA. Losses to both Mississippi schools dropped them from the national eye and a reason to consider Kansas State in this one.

Unlike A&M, all four of KSU's losses came against winning teams. They dropped three to the top three teams in the Big 12, although could've easily beat both West Virginia and OK State, while they lost to Stanford in the opener. KSU closed the season with five wins in six games, and while Baylor and TCU kind of gave up toward the end of the year, they were both impressive road victories.

In the last two years the SEC has dominated the Big 12 in this bowl with Arkansas and LSU beating Texas and Texas Tech by 24 points and 29, respectively.

Myles Garrett may be the best player in this game and needs to take the lead for the Aggies if they are to win. The defense has been poor over the last couple months and giving up 54 points to LSU in the regular season finale showed that.

KSU doesn't do anything exciting, but they've been able to score when needed and there's no reason to believe the A&M defense can contain them. The Wildcats go as the running game goes as Jesse Ertz only has thrown for 8 TDs and 4 INTs all season. But Ertz leads the ground game with 945 yards and 10 touchdowns, while a mix of other backs do the rest whether it's Charles Jones (577 yards), Justin Silmon (387 yards) or Alex Barnes (442 yards).

The Aggies were just gashed by LSU on the ground, so if that same thing happens, it could be another long day. To change that, A&M will need Trevor Knight to do something productive for the offense.

Knight has been mediocre all season, having thrown for more than 247 yards just once and that came against Prairie View. He got hurt late in the season, but came back to complete 14-of-30 passes in the loss to LSU. But one thing Knight has, in addition to his mobility (594 rushing yards), is talent around him. Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford have turned into a nice duo at running back late in the season, even with the team's struggles. Out wide, Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk may be one of the best combinations in the nation. However, it just hasn't worked for them for most of the season.

What doesn't help is that Kansas State's defense has looked solid as of late, holding their last three opponents to 21 points or less, including TCU to six in the finale. A&M has the talent, but if they can't put it together, the Wildcats could grab only their second bowl win in their last nine tries.

The Aggies have failed to cover in their last eight games overall and are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 bowl games. The Wildcats have similarly bad numbers at 1-7 ATS in their last eight bowl games. The over has hit in the last five meetings between these schools, although the last time they played was 2011.

Our Pick - We like Kansas State here, and our model agrees. However, there is also an intereting wrinkle in this one. There's a rumor circulating that legandary Kansas State coach, Bill Snyder, 77, will be retiring after this game, this time for good. To be clear, we like Kansas State either way. However, if the rumor is true, that would put this one over the top as you can be sure his players will know and if there's one coach that deserves to go out a winner, on his players shoulders, it's Bill Snyder. Kansas State +2.5

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