Arguably one of the most anticipated conference championship matchups, the high-flying undefeated TCU Horned Frogs roll into town for a rematch with Kansas State to see who brings home the trophy. Not only for the championship, but TCU can cement their place in the playoff with a win as well. Can they pull it off? Let’s find out.
Kansas State Vs. TCU Odds
Oddsmakers lean towards the Horned Frogs as they opened at -2.5 and have hovered around that number since the open. Even potentially without starting quarterback Adrian Martinez, the upset is possible behind the respectable arm of backup quarterback Will Howard and top-3 running back Deuce Vaughn wreaking havoc in the backfield.
Speaking of wreaking havoc, points are expected to be scored in bunches as oddsmakers set the total at 60.5. Bettors tend to agree as money has moved this up to 62.5 as of writing. Both teams’ field elite offenses that are capable of making the big play in a hurry while struggling to defend explosiveness.
Kansas State Vs. TCU Prediction & Pick
The Pick: TCU -2.5
TCU’s season long outlook was one of my first pieces of content this year with a +1800 championship ticket in my pocket. While I do plan to hedge just to secure profit, I also like them to pull this one off as well.
Even though Will Howard has been a capable backup, he simply does not bring the same dynamic ability of star quarterback Adrian Martinez who gave TCU fits before he was knocked out of the game. This will allow the secondary to sit back in passing situations and not worry as much for a dual threat quarterback’s ability to gain on the ground.
This bodes well for TCU’s defense as they have struggled to defend the run, in comparison to the pass as they rank 71st in Def Rush Success yet 28th in Def Pass Success Rate. With a more straightforward game script on the Wildcats end, TCU should be able to handle the standard downs early and often.
As for the offense, it should be business as usual with Max Duggan continuing to dominate opposing defenses. Even when conservative in their last game, Duggan continued to show improvement in his passing game by throwing for 212 yards and three touchdowns. While success has dipped in the air, their elite explosiveness will be the key metric to watch as Kansas State struggles to defend the big gain through the air.
Kansas State Vs. TCU Key Matchups
Can TCU slow down star running back Deuce Vaughn? How will KSU stop Quentin Johnston should he be good to go?
Deuce Vaughn vs TCU rush defense
It’s no secret that Deuce Vaughn is one of the best running backs in football. Personally, second in the nation in my opinion, only behind Bijan Robinson. So far this season Vaughn has rushed for 1,295 yards and seven touchdowns.
His red zone production has dipped but that’s in large part of Adrian Martinez taking up some red zone snaps with his dual threat ability. Now Vaughn gets a chance to truly shine with a more conservative script against a defense ranked below average in Def Rush Success.
Vaughn was surprisingly limited in their last game out, being held to 83 yards and one touchdown. I don’t see history repeating itself as he plays more of a featured role this time around.
TCU pass attack vs Kansas State secondary
While you would be surprised to see that the TCU pass game ranks only average in Off Pass Success, it’s the Explosiveness through the air that has been terrorizing opposing defenses. One of the best downfield threats? Quentin Johnston.
When healthy, Johnston is one of the best receivers in football. His big frame gives Duggan a massive target to throw at, burning secondaries with his speed in down field connections.
His talent will be much needed should he be good to go. Trending towards suiting up, Johnston will get a beautiful chance to make his mark against the Kansas State secondary who ranks 62nd in Def Pass Explosiveness.
In what is one of the most anticipated matchups for the conference championship slate, back TCU at -2.5 or lower as they look to cap off an undefeated season and stamp their ticket to the college football playoff.