Here is everything you need to know about the TaxAct Texas Bowl in our Kansas State vs. LSU preview and prediction.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022, 8:00 PM CST; Houston, TX; NRG Stadium
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Spread: K-State -3.5
Records: Kansas State 7-5, LSU 6-6
Fun Fact: Even though it won’t be legal to bet during the TaxAct Texas Bowl, LSU fans are excited as legal betting in Louisiana is expected to launch prior to the Super Bowl, on the other hand, the Texas sports betting bill was put forth in 2021 but will not be considered this legislative session until at least one more year. The guys at Sports Betting Dime will keep us up to speed with the latest updates so you’ll know when, where, and how to place your first wager in any of the Big 12 States.
RB DEUCE VAUGHN
As First Team All-American, Vaughn is the only bonafide superstar on the Wildcats’ roster. Vaughn is faster than the devil and has the agility and elusiveness of a mountain lion, but he’s facing an aggressive SEC defense loaded with speed and talent. LSU’s defense is good and has held some sharp offenses in check this season; however, LSU’s defense has also struggled at times against elite running backs and more balanced attacks.
Vaughn is an elite running back, and K-State has the potential to be balanced on offense, especially if QB Skylar Thompson is able to play. The road to offensive balance goes through the running game, however. If Vaughn can slice and dice the LSU offense on the ground, opportunities for him and others to pick up chunks of yards through the air will be there as well.
DE FELIX ANUDIKE-UZOMAH
Anudike-Uzomah leads the nation in forced fumbles and the Wildcats in sacks this season. With LSU QB Max Johnson headed to Texas A&M via the transfer portal, the Tigers will be forced to play an inexperienced quarterback in the Texas Bowl. Enter Anudike-Uzomah and his ability to pressure and get to quarterbacks, and it could be a very long game for the LSU signal-caller (whoever he may be).
LSU’s offense is going to try to lean on the rushing game, but K-State’s defense is too stout against the run for the Tigers to win without a significant contribution from the passing game. If Anudike-Uzomah and the K-State D-line can force LSU’s inexperienced quarterback into mistakes, it could be a big night for K-State.
RB TYRION DAVIS-PRICE
It’s very simple for the Tigers, if they can’t run the ball, they won’t win. Davis-Price is a punishing back who can explode through the first wave of defenders then run-over tacklers in the secondary. K-State’s run defense is solid, and Davis-Price may have to be patient, but it will be imperative for LSU that he finds yards and prevents K-State’s defense from pinning its ears back against the pass.
LB MICAH BASKERVILLE
With LSU’s leading tackler, LB Damone Clark, opting out of the Texas Bowl in preparation for the 2022 NFL draft, Baskerville, a senior and LSU’s second-leading tackler, needs to step up as a leader on the field for the Tigers. With All-American running back Deuce Vaughn carrying the ball for Wildcats, Clark will be critical in helping to shut down the run and making sure his teammates are assignment-sound. Blown assignments lead to Vaughn touchdowns; it’s that simple. Baskerville needs to not only make plays but make sure his teammates are in a position to make plays as well.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
It was a season of streaks for the Cats. K-State began 2021 with three-straight wins, lost three in a row, won four in a row, and finished the regular season on a two-game losing streak. The last loss of the season may have been the hardest to swallow as the Cats fell in Austin to a Texas team that they probably should have beat. The loss resulted in K-State head coach Chris Klieman parting ways with his longtime offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham, and reports have indicated a good deal of frustration on the part of K-State’s players with how the season ended.
Now, K-State has a chance to pick up an eighth win and get a little redemption for how the season ended against an SEC team just two seasons removed from winning the national championship. K-State QB Skylar Thompson is reportedly likely to play, and LSU is going through a coaching transition, a wave of transfers, along with the typical opt-outs from some key players with their eyes on big NFL contracts. The stage is set for K-State to have a big game.
The Brian Kelly era of LSU football won’t truly begin until the Texas Bowl is over. With an interim coach, a backup quarterback, and numerous key transfers and opt-outs, the cards are stacked against the Tigers. However, LSU is riding a streak of winning seasons that dates back to the 2000 season, and a loss in the Texas Bowl would end the Tigers’ long run of winning seasons. No Tiger playing in the Texas Bowl wants any part of the first losing season in Baton Rouge since 1999.
While there are plenty of reasons why LSU is the underdog in this game, the game certainly matters for everyone playing. Expect the Tigers to give the Cats everything they have for 60 minutes.
PREDICTION: K-STATE 28, LSU 17
While K-State has also lost some key players via the transfer portal, it enters the game the more intact team with more firepower on both sides of the ball. The feeling coming from K-State in the run-up to the bowl game is that this is one that the Cats want to win, and they’re fired up to play LSU. The Tigers have pride and won’t be run over, but in the end, K-State will simply be too much for LSU’s depleted roster.