WHO: Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Kansas State (8-4)
WHAT: The 11th AdvoCare V1oo Texas Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston
THE SKINNY: If bowl games are a question of want-to, Texas A&M should come away with the win here.
Losers of three of their final four games — the only win in that stretch: a 13-pointer over UTSA — and their final four SEC games, Texas A&M needs to begin preparations for the 2017 season that a win here would provide. Put it this way: Aggie stakeholders pretty much told Kevin Sumlin, “Close with a strong recruiting class or….. just go ahead and close with a strong recruiting class” after the 54-39 loss to LSU on Thanksgiving night.
Trevor Knight returned to action for that LSU loss and put together a vintage Trevor Knight performance, hitting less than 50 percent of his throws for a paltry seven yards per attempt but still firing three touchdowns against zero interceptions. He’ll look to close his college career with a bang.
Kansas State represents a dangerous opponent for the Aggies in that the Wildcats aren’t physically impressive, they don’t play a threatening style of football and yet, in that Bill Snyder way of theirs, opponents look up at the scoreboard late in the third quarter to find themselves playing a K-State type of game — and K-State is usually ahead. Much like Knight with A&M, quarterback Jesse Ertz is K-State’s engine, throwing for 1,560 yards and eight touchdowns while leading the team in rushing with 945 yards and 10 scores.
While the Aggies clunked their way down the stretch, Kansas State closed with a flurry by winning five of their last six games.
For those who care about such things, this is an important game for the Big 12’s image. The SEC has won both of the first SEC vs. Big 12 Texas Bowl match-ups in resounding fashion — with a 31-7 Arkansas win over Texas in 2014 and a 56-27 LSU blowout of Texas Tech last season. Kansas State has won the last three meetings between the two, dating back to the Aggies’ Big 12 days.
THE PICK: Texas A&M 31, Kansas State 20