The TaxAct Texas Bowl: Kansas State vs LSU will feature two contrasting teams. Kansas State is a run first team, which uses a physical style of run game featuring All-American running back Deuce Vaughn. LSU is a program looking for a revival with the hire of head coach Brian Kelly. Kelly will not take over head coaching duties until after the bowl game.
Matchup: TaxAct Texas Bowl: Kansas State vs LSU
Game Time: January 4, 2022, at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Game Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Team Records: Kansas State: 7-5 LSU: 6-6
How to Watch: ESPN
Head to Head Preview
While Kansas State does not have any players opting out of the Texas Bowl, LSU is dealing with multiple injuries and opt outs. LSU will be without several of its star defensive players. Those players include: cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., linebacker Damone Clark, and defensive tackle Neil Farrell. LSU also faces a question mark at the quarterback position. Max Johnson, the teams starting quarterback entered the transfer portal, and is now headed to SEC foe Texas A&M. Although LSU will be without key pieces, they are a proud program with plenty of talent in every position.
Even though Kansas State lacks the 5 star talent LSU has, they are looking to prove something against LSU. Led by All-American running back Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State will look to take advantage of a depleted LSU defense.
Kansas State’s Key Players
Deuce Vaughn: You can’t talk about K-State football without talking about running back Deuce Vaughn. The 5-6 Vaughn is a do-it-all running back, and he is amongst the most shifty players in college football. Vaughn was voted first team All-American by PFF. Vaughn also had the highest grade among all running backs in the nation (93.0). Also worth noting is that Vaughn ranks first nationally in Wins Above Average. With 1,729 yards from scrimmage this year and 18 touchdowns expect Vaughn to be in the spotlight for the Wildcats in the Texas Bowl.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah: Earlier this season against TCU Felix Anudike-Uzomah tied an NCAA record with 6 sacks. Upon further review he was only credited with 4 sacks, but that doesn’t take away from how he dominated that game. Simply put Anudike-Uzomah is a game wrecker. His 6 forced fumbles led the nation. As the season went on, Anudike-Uzomah garnered more and more attention from Big 12 offensive tackles. If LSU doesn’t pay him the same respect, Anudike-Uzomah could be primed for another big game.
Skylar Thompson: Although Skylar Thompson’s stats don’t fly off the page, his impact on the Kansas State team is evident. In the three games that Thompson was unable to start due to injury, the Wildcats had a record of 1-2 and average 21.6 points per game. In the 9 games in which Thompson did start, the Wildcats went 6-3 and averaged 25.7 points per game. While Deuce Vaughn may get the majority of the praise from the media, and rightfully so, Thompson is the engine that makes this offense go. With multiple LSU defensive players out due to injury or opting out, expect Thompson to have a big final game as quarterback for the Wildcats.
LSU’s Key Players
Corey Kiner: With starting running back Tyrion Davis-Price opting out Friday, Kiner will be the next man up for LSU. Davis-Price’s absence will be missed as he accounted for 1,003 yards of the 1,312 total LSU rushing yards this season. Kiner will look to fill that void and vamp up his production. With just 65 carries for 271 yards and 2 touchdowns on the year, LSU will lean heavily on the freshman back.
Micah Baskerville: Another player who needs to step up in the absence of a teammate is Micah Baskerville. Without second team All-American Damone Clark, Baskerville will have to take control of the defense. Baskerville had a team-high 83 tackles on the year, including 40 solo tackles. What Baskerville doesn’t get enough credit for is his athleticism. This was put on display on his 54 yard interception against Florida. Expect Baskerville to be all over the field for the Tigers.
BJ Ojulari: Getting pressure on Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson will be key for LSU. No player has gotten more pressure on the quarterback this year for the Tigers than Ojulari. While his 6 sacks are a team-high, Ojulari only has 1.5 sacks in his last 9 games. Kansas State is a run-heavy team, so when LSU gets their chance to pressure the quarterback, they need to take advantage of it.
If LSU was facing Kansas State with their full roster, this game could look a lot different. Be that as it may, LSU is missing a lot of key pieces. Not only are they down multiple star players, they also are transitioning to the Brian Kelly era. On the other hand, Kansas State is a team looking to bounce back from a difficult loss against Texas in their final game of the regular season. Quarterback Skylar Thompson will be playing in his 45th and final career game at Kansas State. Expect the Wildcats to come out aggressive and with a chip on their shoulder. My final score prediction is Kansas State 27 LSU 13.
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