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Texas Bowl primer: Quarterbacks will be in the spotlight

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One SEC team is in action in the postseason Wednesday, and it comes against a former conference rival.

Texas A&M (8-4) meets former Big 12 foe Kansas State (8-4) in the Texas Bowl in Houston. The game is at NRG Stadium, which is about 100 miles from the Aggies’ campus in College Station.

Texas A&M is making its eighth consecutive bowl appearance, which is the longest streak in school history. This is the third time since A&M left the Big 12 that it is playing a Big 12 team in its bowl.

Kevin Sumlin is seeking to move his bowl record to 4-1 as Aggies coach. A fourth bowl victory would be the most in program history; he currently is tied with R.C. Slocum, who won three from 1989-2002.

RELATED: WATCH: Texas Bowl preview

K-State’s Bill Snyder, meanwhile, is coaching in his 18th bowl; the school has made just two bowl appearances without Snyder at the helm. He is 7-10 in bowls.

Here’s a closer look at the Texas Bowl.

Texas Bowl

WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston.
TIME/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN/Dave Flemming (play-by-play) and Jesse Palmer (analyst)
PLAYERS ON SPOT: Let’s go with the quarterbacks – Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight (above left) and Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz (above right). Forget passing for a moment: Knight must be effective on the zone read. If A&M’s rushing attack ends up being all about the tailbacks, that bodes ill for the Aggies. K-State isn’t especially good against the pass, having allowed 23 TD passes. But the Wildcats do have 15 picks and a good pass rush. Ertz is one of the best running quarterbacks in the nation; he leads K-State with 945 yards and has 10 rushing TDs. He has had three 100-yard games. K-State uses a committee approach at tailback, but Ertz is the guy the Aggies must contain.
TOP INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: Texas A&M WRs Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds vs. K-State CB D.J. Reed. Reed, who is a 5-foot-9 junior college transfer, is the Wildcats’ best cover guy. He was a first-team All-Big 12 pick who has three picks, 15 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Kirk and Reynolds have combined for 19 of A&M’s 22 TD receptions, and one of them must make some explosive plays. If they come against Reed, all the better. Kirk needs three catches to become the first A&M player with multiple 80-catch seasons. And he needs 158 receiving yards to Mike Evans as the only Aggies with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
THE KEY STAT: K-State averages 232.9 rushing yards per game. If the Wildcats reach their season average, they will win. They averaged 166.8 in their losses. K-State has 36 rushing touchdowns, which is seventh-most nationally. This is not a team that can throw the ball: K-State has nine TD passes this season. That’s tied for fifth-fewest nationally. That K-State can’t throw has to make A&M fans happy. On the other hand, the Aggies’ run defense has been extremely spotty. In its four losses, Texas A&M surrendered 275.4 rushing yards per game, with 10 TDs. In its eight wins, A&M allowed eight rushing TDs.
OFFICIATING CREW: from the Big Ten.
THE LINE: Texas A&M by 2.5.
THE PROJECTED SCORE: Texas A&M 28-20.

(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)

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