In the last bowl game before the CFP National Championship, the Texas Bowl will continue its exciting history of high-scoring games as LSU and Kansas State face off. The Wildcats were last in the Texas Bowl in a 2016 win over Texas A&M, while the Tigers played in a big win over Texas Tech the year prior. LSU had an up-and-down season that ended with two straight wins and saw the team drop surprising losses to Kentucky and UCLA. With Ed Orgeron out and Brian Kelly on his way in, the Tigers are in a state of transition following their disappointing season. Kansas State, meanwhile, ended the year with two straight losses and a losing conference record in the Big 12. However, head coach Chris Klieman was a big part of North Dakota State’s storied dynasty, and he knows what it takes to win in the biggest games of the season.
LSU Tigers Vs. Kansas State Wildcats Betting Odds
LSU Tigers Betting Odds
Since going 15-0 in 2019 with the Heisman-winning Joe Burrow leading the charge, LSU has gone just 11-11 over its last 22 games. Max Johnson hasn’t accomplished nearly at the level Burrow did, although he did have a solid season with 2,814 passing yards and 27 touchdowns to six interceptions. Johnson entered the transfer portal and is headed to Texas A&M, and LSU is likely starting a quarterback with no starting experience. There has been some hype surrounding Myles Brennan returning from injury, but that seems unlikely. You can expect to see a heavy dose of Tyrion Davis-Prince, who ran for over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns this year. Leading receiver Kayshon Boutte hasn’t played since October and is unlikely to play in this game, presenting further problems for the offense.
LSU was better on the defensive end than they were on offense this year as they allowed 25.3 points per game, ranking 58th in the country, but they won’t be at full strength on that end either. Defensive tackle Neil Farrell and linebacker Damone Clark have opted out of this game to prepare for the NFL draft, and their absences will be significant. The Tigers’ defensive improvement was critical to its late-season surge, and you could see the progress in holding Alabama to just 20 points, but the quality won’t be the same without Farrell and Clark. Look for B.J. Ojulari, brother of Giants’ 2021 second-round draft pick Azeez, to make a significant impact in this game with those front seven players missing.
Kansas State Wildcats Betting Odds
One of the streakiest teams in college football, it’s been challenging to trust Kansas State this season. They rattled off winning streaks of three and four games but also had losing stretches of two and three games. The absence of senior quarterback Skylar Thompson hurt Kansas State considerably against Texas in the year’s final game as Will Howard struggled to make a significant impact. Still, there is hope that Thompson will return for the Texas Bowl. Regardless, the team’s best offensive weapon in Deuce Vaughn will be ready to go. Vaughn had over 1,700 yards from scrimmage and 18 total touchdowns this year, and he made a significant impact for the Wildcats both on the ground and through the air. Outside of Vaughn, the Wildcats didn’t have many consistent playmakers on offense, and it wasn’t surprising to see that they finished outside the top 80 in scoring offenses this season.
Kansas State’s defense was the team’s strong suit as they allowed just 21.1 points per game, the 26th-fewest in the country and fourth-fewest in a stout Big 12. Sophomore defensive lineman Felix Anudike led the charge on that end with 14.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in a performance that earned him a First-Team All-Big 12 nod. With Anudike leading a front seven that knows how to get after the quarterback, Kansas State’s defense should make life difficult for whoever starts LSU. Malik Knowles was one of the best return men in the country – he averaged 32.9 yards per kick return, fifth-most – and he’s another player to look for to make a significant impact in this game.
LSU Tigers vs. Kansas State Wildcats Picks & Prediction
There are tons of unknowns in this game, starting with the status of the quarterback position for LSU. With Skylar Thompson trending towards playing and Kansas State being the far more cohesive team of these two, I have some confidence in the Wildcats against a Tigers’ defense missing some of its best players. Neither of these two teams has been the least bit consistent this season, but I’m backing the experienced Chris Klieman to find a way to get Kansas State its first bowl win since 2017.
My Prediction: Kansas State wins 26-20, Kansas State covers, under 48 points