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Kansas State vs. TCU Prediction: First Place in the Big 12 on the Line in Top-25 Showdown

Horned Frogs look to keep unblemished record intact by snapping three-game losing streak to Wildcats.

It'll be a matchup of Top 25 teams and a battle for sole possession of first place in the hotly contested Big 12 when Kansas State takes the field against TCU in Fort Worth on Saturday night.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 8

Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman's No. 17 ranked Wildcats (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) are riding a three-game winning streak heading into this weekend's game. All three wins were by single digits, but none of the games looked the same — especially the 10-9 victory over Iowa State two weeks ago. Klieman and his staff likely focused on cleaning up weak spots and pain points on both sides of the ball during their bye week. They'll need to be at their best if they hope to pull off a win over what's starting to look like an elite TCU club.

TCU comes into the game with an unblemished 6-0 record (3-0 in Big 12 play) and ranked No. 8 in the country. Their last three wins were over ranked teams, and last week's come-from-behind victory over then-No. 8 Oklahoma State put the Big 12 and the rest of the country on notice. It'll take a fourth straight win over a ranked team this weekend for the Horned Frogs to keep their spot in the pole position in the conference race.

No. 17 Kansas State at No. 8 TCU

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: TCU -3.5
Tickets: As low as $40 on

When Kansas State Has the Ball

Quarterback Adrian Martinez has had a career revival in Manhattan. The Nebraska transfer struggled to find his footing — in part due to injuries — during the first four years of his collegiate career. Now, he pilots an offense that is among the very best in the nation when it comes to moving the ball on the ground. Martinez has rushed for 546 yards and scored nine times while running back Deuce Vaughn leads the team in rushing yards with 661. Vaughn also has three rushing touchdowns. Suffice to say, the Wildcats' offense runs through those two.

When the Wildcats go to the air, wide receivers Phillip Brooks and Malik Knowles lead the team in catches — each with 20. Martinez also likes to target Vaughn and Kade Warner — another Nebraska transfer. Kansas State will only throw out of necessity, as the Wildcats are able to control the tempo of most games with the rushing attack. That could change on Saturday night, however, as the TCU defense is among the worst in the country against the pass.

When TCU Has the Ball

The Horned Frogs feature the best offense in the Big 12 — both in terms of moving the ball and scoring points — and are third nationally in these categories as well. Everything runs through quarterback Max Duggan, who is as efficient a passer as you'll find in all of college football. Duggan is completing nearly 70 percent of his throws and has 16 touchdown passes to just one interception on the season. He's also a significant threat on the ground, logging 261 yards on 43 carries with four rushing touchdowns.

When Duggan looks to force the ball downfield, his favorite target is Quentin Johnston. The 6-foot-4 Johnston is a matchup nightmare, combining his rare size with exceptional speed that forces defenses to account for him on every play. 

TCU's rushing attack is led by Kendre Miller, who has 578 yards and on a healthy 6.4 yards per carry to go along with eight touchdowns on the ground. He's been running behind an offensive line that is playing as well as any in the country, dominating the trenches from wire to wire in every game. The Kansas State defense gives up 132.8 rushing yards per game, so Miller and the Horned Frog offensive line should be a factor on Saturday night.

Final Analysis

A home game under the lights on a national stage — combined with an exciting, elite offense — gives TCU a decided advantage in this one. The Horned Frogs will want to jump on Kansas State early and force the Wildcats to adjust their typical game plan and play from behind.

Kansas State will try to establish the run early and keep the electric TCU offense off the field for as long as possible. The Wildcats are going to need productive possessions all night to keep pace with the Horned Frogs on the scoreboard. If they are forced to pass, Klieman and his staff need to find creative ways to get Vaughn the ball or use him as a decoy. No lead is safe in this one, as TCU can score in bunches and Kansas State has proven to be able to take big punches and bounce back.

One thing is for certain: it'll be a championship atmosphere at Amon Carter Stadium on Saturday night.

Prediction: TCU 33, Kansas State 23

Podcast: Week 8 Preview, Predictions, and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on,, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

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