Kansas Jayhawks vs #12 Kansas State Wildcats (11/26 @ 8:00 PM EST)
Spread: KSU -11.5
Money Line: Kansas +345 / KSU -455
Overview and Betting Info
The Kansas Jayhawks (6-5) will head to Manhattan to renew their rivalry with the #12 Kansas State Wildcats (8-3) for the 120th time. While Kansas’ hopes at a Big 12 title ended a few weeks ago, they now have a chance to play spoiler to their rivals, who currently lead Texas by one game for a spot in the conference championship. Kansas leads the overall series 64-50, but KSU has won thirteen straight.
Both teams are 7-3-1 against the spread this season, winning three of their last five. Kansas has failed to cover their previous two games, while KSU has. The Jayhawks have gone over the point total five times. The Wildcats have gone over the total seven times.
The Kansas Jayhawks are coming off a blowout loss to a resurgent Texas, but there was a silver lining. Quarterback Jalon Daniels returned from injury last week and looked solid through the air. He has 1,256 passing yards, 335 rushing yards, and 16 combined touchdowns. He leads an offense averaging 443 yards per game, which is second in the Big 12. Daniels is surrounded by a deep group of receivers led by Lawrence Arnold (529 yards, 4TDs). He’s a threat downfield who averages 17.7 yards per catch and is the perfect complement to Luke Grimm, who leads the team with 36 receptions and is an excellent possession receiver. When they are in the red zone, keep an eye on Morgan Fairchild, who leads the team with five touchdowns.
The Jayhawk ground game is among the elites in the country, led by running back David Neal. The back averages 6.7 yards per carry with a total of 951 yards and seven touchdowns. He and Jalon Daniels keep defenses on their toes. While Neal dominates the carries, backup Daniel Hinshaw has been dangerous with limited touches, adding 259 rushing yards and five touchdowns. As talented as they are, they were completely shut down against Texas last week. Daniels avoided using his legs much, which didn’t help, but they need this unit to improve Saturday if they want to keep the score close.
On defense, the Jayhawks allow as many yards as they gain on offense (443). They’ve been brutal as of late, giving up at least 35 points and over 250 rushing yards in three of their last four games. This includes giving up 427 rushing yards to Texas just last week. Even without Adrian Martinez, the Wildcats have a dangerous run game capable of adding to this troubling trend. They will also need Lonnie Phelps to return to form, as the sack leader has failed to register a sack in five games. The player to watch will be cornerback Cobee Bryant, who leads the team with three interceptions and eight pass deflections. If Howard does get the start for KSU, Bryant will be one of the keys to slowing the Wildcats down.
Kansas State Wildcats
Despite injuries plaguing quarterback Adrian Martinez, the offense averages 419.5 yards per game. This is partly due to the high-level play from backup quarterback Will Howard. Though he doesn’t have Martinez’s dual-threat ability, he is the superior passer with 1,011 yards and eleven touchdowns in just four games. He’s won three of his four games and may remain in the starter role even if Martinez is healthy. Howard has connected well with leading receiver Malik Knowles, who has 669 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a talented wideout that has thrived with Howard at quarterback. KSU is deep at receiver, but watch for tight end Ben Sinnott, who has over 160 yards and three TDs in his last two games.
While the run game will likely be without Adrian Martinez, Deuce Vaughn can make up for the production. He’s 16th in FBS with 1,148 yards and six touchdowns and is active in the passing game with 266 receiving yards to go with three touchdowns. As impressive as his numbers are, most of his success came in the first half of the season. He’s been good but not great the last six weeks, averaging 85 yards per game in that span. He could turn that around Saturday as he faces a Kansas run defense that gave up over 400 yards last week.
The Kansas State defense is among the conference’s best, ranking second in yards allowed with 361. Their success has been driven by an aggressive secondary that allows just 217 passing yards per game. They led the conference with 15 interceptions, thanks to three different players registering three interceptions. On the defensive line, they are led by Felix Anudike-Uzomah. Although he has an impressive 7.5 sacks on the season, he’s recorded just one over their last five games. They’ll need him to get into the backfield to help contain a dangerous Jalon Daniels on Saturday night.
Free Pick: KSU -11.5
Jalon Daniels will make Kansas better, but it seems he may not be the same scrambler he was to start the year. Daniels needs to be able to run the ball for this Jayhawk offense to produce as they did before his injury. If he’s kept in the pocket, we see this aggressive KSU secondary containing the pass and creating at least one turnover. On the other side of the ball, we see the Wildcats eclipsing the 30-point mark without breaking a sweat. This is a dangerous Wildcat team that will not be overlooking their rival.
We’re laying the points to roll with KSU.