Taming the Tigers
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You've heard the old saying that the best defense is a good offense. Right?
Well, I think that saying and philosophy definitely applies in tonight's NCAA pairing between two nationally-ranked teams when Auburn visits Kansas State.
While Bovada has the visiting Tigers listed as a 9½-point favorite, I see Auburn having a hard time keeping the ball long enough in order to cover such a spread. More about that in a moment.
Your eyebrows might raise at my thought above, based on the Tigers' 52-point per game average. However, you'll see in the Bovada data tool on the Home page that those two wins came at home against San José State and Arkansas.
Playing in the environment that Auburn experiences tonight in Manhattan will be about as different an animal as a tiger is to a wildcat. Actually, come to think of it, are tigers really that different from wildcats? I have no idea. But suffice to say Auburn will definitely be out of it's element.
Yeah, I know Auburn has spent many a game in snakepits like Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, and Athens, but those are familiar snakepits. If there wasn't a reason for SEC teams avoiding non-cons at other campuses like the plague, they'd do more of it. In this case, ESPN simply threw too much money at them so the Worldwide Leader would have an attractive Thursday night match-up.
While I expect the Tigers to have their moments offensively, it's the other side of the ball where I see K-State being able to really make some hay. That's because of the balanced, ball control offense that will chew plenty of clock and keep the ball out of Nick Marshall's hands and in the hands of Wildcat QB Jake Waters.
Waters is another in a long line of Bill Snyder led signal-callers that can carry the ball as well as many running backs can. Look for K-State to use his ground skills and couple it with some well-timed tosses to wideout Tyler Lockett as the Wildcats chew plenty of clock and keeps the Auburn offense on the sidelines.
Not convinced? Click the data tool's Supergrid on the Home page for me. Then take a look at the Kansas State offense vs. Auburn defense pairing.
Keep scrolling down, and you'll see the Wildcats have averaged almost 35 minutes in time of possession so far this season, good for seventh best in the nation.
While it's still early in the season, I think that's a number that indicates Kansas State is running its offense just howBill Snyder wants, with balance, putting points on the board -- 43 a game -- and keeping the opposing offense off the field.
The Wildcats may not put up 43 tonight -- this is Auburn, after all -- but they will stay well within Bovada's 9½ and cash a winning ticket for Wildcat backers.
Not only am I endorsing the 9½ here ,but this one is also worth a smaller play on the money line. I see the potential here for an outright K-State win.
My pick: Kansas State +9.5
Result: Auburn 20 Kansas State 14 Wildcats cover
Follow me on Twitter @Soprano Steve