The final non-playoff bowl game of the season features the 6-6 LSU Tigers and 7-5 Kansas State Wildcats. These teams have endured two very different seasons despite ending up in the same place. Between their stylistic differences and the changes each program has endured over the last few seasons, this will be an intriguing battle.
LSU is only 5-6-1 against the spread after a tumultuous year that led to a coaching change. New head coach Brian Kelly is looking to instill more toughness and consistency. We likely won’t see the effects of his power yet but it’s looming over LSU.
Meanwhile, Kansas State plays a run-heavy style that controls the clock. Their 6-5-1 record against the spread highlights their struggles pulling away from teams, or even being consistent. Their own help is on the way as transfer quarterback Adrian Martinez will take over as a starter in 2022. We’ll break down this matchup and provide two great NCAAF picks for you to play.
LSU Tigers vs. Kansas State Wildcats
Tuesday, January 04, 2022 – 9:00 PM ET at NRG Stadium
The number of contributors who are out for LSU is staggering. Between transfers, personal decisions to sit, and injuries, the Tigers will be without nine contributors from this season. The team we’ll see is not only different under interim head coach Bill Davis but also the personnel is unknown.
The bad news is it’s hard to envision a slew of young contributors as an upgrade for a .500 team. LSU is always loaded with athletes but their underwhelming teams over the years always feature the same characteristics as this one. There’s no reason this team should rank 84th in scoring offense, 116th in rushing, and 52nd in scoring defense.
We’ll see whether backup quarterback Garrett Nussmeier is granted an exemption to play in this game and keep his redshirt. The team is in a terrible position if he can’t, and he may be a disaster anyway. His limited playing time showed an inaccurate passer who struggles with decision-making, and Kansas State’s 23rd-ranked defense will be ready.
Kansas State’s Opportunistic Defense
The Wildcats’ defense has the opportunity to tee off on what should be a disjointed unit. Kansas State has the 29th-ranked run defense after stifling units to just 3.6 yards-per-carry. Head coach Chris Klieman has keyed in on trench play throughout his career as a priority to win and that will bode well this game.
His challenge is overcoming the athleticism difference, but make no mistake about his team owning the advantage overall. LSU top rusher Tyrion Davis-Price is a fine but unspectacular option as a lead back. Expect the Wildcats to stack the box and dare whoever is playing quarterback to win over the top against the 44th-ranked passing defense.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats will rely on precision in the run game to score on LSU. They own the tactical and skill advantage, but LSU will undoubtedly find explosive stops with their size and speed. This game may be in quarterback Skylar Thompson’s hands more than Kansas State would like, but he is a capable passer if needed to be.
LSU will surely score because they can win one-on-one matchups, but neither offense is geared to overwhelm their foe in this game. The under is a safe play, and certainly the smart one.
NCAAF Pick: Kansas State -3.5 (-110) with DraftKings
NCAAF Pick: Under 48 (-110) with DraftKings