No. 6 Kansas State (10-1, 7-1) will look to wrap up a firm grasp of the Big 12 conference title for the 2012 season, as they host the No. 18 Texas Longhorns (8-3, 5-3) in Manhattan on Saturday night.
The Longhorns come to town after losing to TCU, and switching QBs yet again late in the ballgame. David Ash left with an apparent injury and Case McCoy tried to yet again come to the rescue for Texas, but it wasn't to be.
McCoy will get another shot this weekend against Kansas State, after Mack Brown named him the starter for the Horns' final regular-season game. The Wildcats are looking to ensure a spot in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the automatic slot for the Big 12 champion.
Texas will desperately be seeking to hang on at a shot at 10 wins (with a bowl victory), but standing in its way is Heisman candidate Collin Klein and a solid Wildcat defense.
We've got you covered with spread information for both teams, when and where to catch this matchup and a prediction for the final week of 2012 Big 12 action.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Bill Snyder Stadium; Manhattan, Kan.
Watch: ABC (check local listings)
Spread: Kansas State -11.5 (according to Vegas Insider)
The Wildcats haven't been averse to close games during their big season, playing close games to TCU and Iowa State during their stellar campaign so far.
However, facing a Longhorn team that turns the ball over with somewhat consistent regularity, I like the Wildcats to take Texas out with a Fiesta Bowl berth on the line. Texas has the athletes on defense to contain Klein for a little while, but if you give Kansas State a short field, it will capitalize.
Klein will capitalize often when McCoy makes a mistake in this one.
Over/Under: 63.5 (according to Vegas Insider)
Both teams average over 37 points per game, so it's not crazy to think this game could get up in the sixty range.
But the defenses for each have strengths to slow down the opposing offense. For Texas, the speed in the secondary and in the linebacking corps can help combat the rushing attack of RB John Hubert.
Kansas State is very disciplined behind coach Bill Snyder, and will be able to handle the multiple offense that Texas employs. I think both defense force at least one turnover, and this game stays well under the total.
Notable Injuries via USA Today (as of 11/28/12)
QB David Ash —Questionable (Ribs)
DE Alex Okafor—Questionable (Leg)
LB Kendall Thompson—Questionable (Concussion)
OL Kennedy Estelle—Doubtful (Shoulder)
DB Ty Zimmerman—Questionable (Leg)
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Kansas State is headed to the Fiesta Bowl with a win and/or an Oklahoma loss in Week 14. Texas will likely remain in the Top 25 with a win or a loss, but the fate of the Longhorns' bowl prospects could change dramatically with a loss to the Wildcats.
Scenarios range from the Alamo Bowl to the Cotton Bowl for Texas, as its BCS hopes are done. However, Texas can play spoiler while keeping Kansas State from a BCS bowl, assuming the Sooners can take care of business against the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday.
It isn't going to be easy for the Longhorns. As the Kansas State Athletic official Twitter account notes, Klein has done quite well against ranked opponents this season.
Collin Klein vs ranked opponents this year: 16 TD, 0 INT, 302 YPG, 78% completion pct., Cats 5-0 in those games. #ckmvp— K-State Athletics (@kstatesports) November 26, 2012
Keys to Texas Win
Mack Brown's team can follow the blueprint Baylor laid out two weeks ago by hitting Kansas State in the mouth early and never backing down. That's not to say Kansas State can't play a full four quarters—just look at the game against Oklahoma.
However, Texas can grind this game out by getting on the board early and beating Kansas State at its own game—running the ball and playing tough defense.
If Brown and the offense relies on McCoy to make big plays with his arm down the field, it will result in turnovers. A balanced game plan that emphasizes McCoy's ability to throw on the run and get out of the pocket will help keep Kansas State off balance.
Keys to Kansas State Win
Did you know? Collin Klein averages a touchdown every 12.6 offensive snaps. And has done so in the nation's deepest conference. #ckmvp— K-State Athletics (@kstatesports) November 27, 2012
The Wildcats will rely on the same thing the university's Twitter notes—Klein is the end-all, be-all for their chances to win. The Heisman trophy is still somewhat up for grabs, but Klein will have to a huge game to get back in the thick of the race.
For his team to secure a bowl bid, it will have to draw on some of the success Oklahoma State had after losing to Iowa State late in the season, having a bye week to think about it and then demolishing Oklahoma by an embarrassing mark.
Kansas State has success by running the ball and keeping the chains moving, and relying on fundamentals to almost bore opponents to death. It's not flashy, but the system works for Snyder's team. Forcing McCoy into a turnover or two won't help, and getting big receiver Chris Harper matched up one-on-one with the Texas secondary won't hurt the team's chances, either.
Kansas State isn't flashy, high-powered or even exciting, but they just win football games. A spot in the Fiesta Bowl will help keep Snyder's team motivated and ready to take care of the ball after the turnovers against Baylor, and Texas will struggle with McCoy looking at Ash over his shoulder.
Kansas State 27, Texas 10
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.