Kansas St. vs TCU (12/3/2022 – 12:00 pm EDT)
Line: TCU -2.5
Kansas St. vs TCU – Big 12 Championship Game
As the 2022 college football regular season has come to an end for most teams, some are still fighting for conference titles and bowl games with tons to still play for. With this game, you’ve got the Big 12 title at stake with the 12th-ranked Kansas City Wildcats trying to hand the fourth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs their first loss of the season. The Wildcats are coming off a huge 47-27 victory over their in-state rival, Kansas, while TCU continued rolling with a 62-14 romp over the Iowa State Cyclones.
Kansas State Analysis
While a few experts here and there voted Kansas State into the college football Preseason Top 25 Poll, many left them off and they were nowhere on the AP or Coach’s poll to start the season. Not that they were expected to compete for a championship or anything, but the Wildcats have had a wonderful season even if they have lost three games, all of those losses have come against tough opponents. Despite all of that, Kansas St. is 9-3 on the season and finished second overall in the Big 12, putting them into the title game. They went 8-3-1 versus the spread and an even 6-6 against the over/under.
How did the Wildcats arrive here, playing for the Big 12 championship considering they’ve lost three games? As we mentioned before, it’s about who those losses were against, and in the situation of Kansas State, all three came against ranked opponents, which puts their #12-ranking in a much clearer light. For example, their first loss came to a tough 18th-ranked Tulane and who just beat Cincinnati to win the American Athletic Conference this past Saturday. Their second loss was to fourth-ranked TCU, who, with a win this Saturday, will play for the FBS Championship as one of the top four teams in the nation. Kansas State’s last loss was to 23rd-ranked Texas. With no losses to unranked teams, the Wildcats are as prepared as ever to play the Big 12’s best team in TCU.
Looking at the Wildcats over the last three weeks, they’ve put up 126 points during that span, good for 42 points a contest, which is almost a full nine points more than their season average of 33.4 points a game. Where the Wildcats make their presence felt is on the ground where they’re averaging 210.3 rushing yards per game, good for 17th in the nation while they’ve only turned the ball over a grand total of five times, which puts them 28th overall. Their defense is a tough nut to crack as they’ve recorded 15 takeaways on the year, 12th in the country, and their 19.4 points allowed per game is 15th overall.
Now, here we are, after 12 regular season games and not one a single loss, the Horned Frogs find themselves at a shocking 12-0 heading into Saturday afternoon’s huge game. This is a team that was on no one’s preseason Top 25 list so the fact that they’re not only undefeated but ranked fourth in the entire country makes TCU one of the most impressive stories of the 2022 college football campaign. At 12-0 overall, nine of those wins came in Big 12 Conference play where the Horned Frogs went 9-0. TCU had a fantastic record against the spread at 9-2-1 while they weren’t nearly as good versus the over/under at 7-5.
One could point to a gluttony of reasons for TCU’s incredible success this season but first you have to look at those 12 wins and see if any of them hold any weight, right? In short, several of them do as many of their biggest wins came against conference foes. For example, of their 12 total wins, five of those came against ranked opponents at the start of the game. These include victories over Oklahoma (ranked 18th at the time), Kansas (19th), Oklahoma State (8th), Kansas State (17th), and Texas (18th). All five of those are strong wins and TCU never missed a beat as they kept on rolling from one opponent to the next.
So, how on earth did a team that wasn’t even ranked in the preseason Top 25 go undefeated in the Big 12? Offense, that’s how. Lots and lots of offense. First of all, the Horned Frogs have a quarterback in Max Duggan that has thrown for 3,070 yards through the air to go with 29 touchdown passes against only three interceptions. Behind him is one of the best running backs in the game this season as Kendre Miller has piled up 1,260 yards rushing on the year along with 16 TDs and got it done with 6.3 yards per carry. As a team, TCU’s 41.3 points per contest ranks fourth in the country while their 14 takeaways on defense is 16th overall.
Free Pick – TCU -2.5
Look, Kansas State is primed and ready for this contest and they have the resume to compete with any team in the entire Big 12 as proven by their three close losses, one of which was a 38-28 defeat to this same TCU team back on October 22nd. One issue with that game, however, is that the Wildcats built a 28-10 lead and still lost by allowing 28 unanswered points. This time around, don’t expect Kansas State to make that mistake again because TCU won’t allow them to. The Horned Frogs want that CFB playoff and with the Wildcats the only team standing in their way, it would be remarkably disappointing to lose the final game of their season and fall out of the championship race. On that note, while TCU has had far closer games against ranked opponents this season, they’ve managed to find ways to win no matter how much they’re down. The Horned Frogs are exceptionally coached and won’t disappoint this Saturday. Kansas State will make it tough but TCU will pull away and win by at least two scores. We’re picking TCU -2.5.