Outside of the national championship game, the bowl season comes to an end on Tuesday night with the TaxAct Bowl in Houston between the LSU Tigers and the Kansas State Wildcats. This is just the second all-time meeting between the two programs. The Wildcats are considered 4.5-point favorites, with the over/under at 48 points.
Kansas State had the epitome of a rollercoaster season. The Wildcats started off with three straight wins, only to lose three in a row. They then won four in a row before losing their final two games to finish 7-5, which was enough to get back to a bowl game after missing out last year.
As for the Tigers, they needed wins over Louisiana Monroe and an upset of Texas A&M during the final two weeks of the season just to get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. Needless to say, the Bayou Bengals have fallen a long way since winning the national title two years ago. However, this will be the final game before the official start of the Brian Kelly era.
A Little Short Handed
Starting quarterback Max Johnson left for the transfer portal after the season, leaving freshman Garrett Nussmeier to start the bowl game. However, it’s possible that Nussmeier won’t play depending on getting a waiver from the NCAA, complicating LSU’s quarterback picture. Either way, the Tigers will have an inexperienced quarterback playing to complement a running game that averaged just 3.2 yards per carry this year.
Defensively, the Tigers will also be without some key players, most notably sack leader Damone Clark. On the bright side, that side of the ball started to make some progress late in the year after a rough patch during the middle of the season. LSU allowed just 18.5 points per game over its last four games, including competitive losses to Alabama and Arkansas.
Sky’s the Limit
The bowl game will provide a nice farewell for K-State veteran quarterback Skylar Thompson. While it hasn’t been a great year for Thompson, he brings a lot of experience to the table and has had his moments when he’s gotten enough help around him. Even if Thompson and the passing game haven’t been great this year, the Wildcats have a steady rushing attack, with Deuce Vaughn rushing for over 1,200 yards and 5.9 yards per carry.
On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats have been steady but unspectacular for most of the season. Much like LSU, the K-State defense struggled in the middle of the season but was better late, giving up just 17.5 points per game over the final six games of the season, a stretch that included games against three bowl teams. Plus, the Cats will have Felix Anudike-Uzomah, who was one of the best pass rushers in the Big 12 this year with 11 sacks.
While motivation could be a question for LSU, the Tigers will have superior athletes in this game. At the same time, the Kansas State offense isn’t explosive enough to pull away and win comfortably.
With the spread at 4.5 points, bet on this to be a field goal game, meaning LSU will beat the spread, even if the Tigers don’t win.
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