Eighty-two. That number has been stuck in the head’s of the Red Raider faithful since October 25th, 2014. The score represents the lowest of the low for Tech’s abysmal 4-8 campaign last year. After obliterating Tech and emptying their fireworks bin, TCU would go on to win the rest of their regular season games and demolish then #9 Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. Tech, on the other hand, would lose three out of their next four to mercifully finish the year. It’s a new season, however, and both teams will take the field on Saturday with completely different looks. This game has it all. Revenge, bad blood and best of all stellar quarterback play on both sides. Let’s dive in.
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 26th at 3:45 PM CST
WHERE: Jones AT&T Stadium (Lubbock, TX)
FORECAST: Mostly Sunny, Wind 5-10 mph, Game Temp 83°F
TV: Fox / Fox Sports GO
BETTING LINE: TCU -6.5 (O/U 80.5)
#3 TCU Horned Frogs
TCU has arrived. The Horned Frogs are in that small, elite group of teams who represent every other team’s biggest game. Now that conference play is starting, everybody in the Big 12 wants to knock off the Frogs. And while they have run into some recent challenges, they’re still well-equipped to take down Texas Tech. TCU relentlessly pounded Tech last year setting a Big 12 record for number of points scored in a game. A big question in this match-up will be, can they overcome the monumental number of lost players they’ve had due to injury, arrest, suspension, family leave and who knows what else.
Key Players For TCU
Trevone Boykin – Boykin a Key Player, surprising I know. With such a decimated defense, the electrifying Heisman hopeful will have to lead his team to even more points than they’ve been scoring so far this year. TCU, as a whole, hasn’t looked as dominant as expected this year. However Boykin has proven that he’s ready to put this team on his shoulders and lead the way. Boykin is completing 65.7% of his passes with 10 TD’s and only three picks. He’ll have to have a monster day against a Tech defense that has shown improvement but is still giving up a slew of yards and rank second to last in the Big 12 in total defense.
Josh Doctson – Josh Doctson is by far Boykin’s favorite target with 17 receptions and three touchdowns through three games. He will get an excellent chance to fluff his stats against a Tech secondary who is suspect and ranks sixth in the conference in passing yards allowed. Tech will likely double-team Doctson at times so the senior and future NFL’er will have to find a way to get open and get yards after contact.
TCU’s Keys To The Game
Next Man Up – In addition to losing six defensive starters who were on last year’s 12-1 team, TCU has also lost: Mike Tuaua (arrested on Monday), Ranthony Texada (injury), James McFarland (injury), Sammy Douglas (injury), Kenny IIoka (injury), Mike Freeze (leave of absence), Davion Pierson (injury). Where do you even start? Gary Patterson is a defensive genius so if anyone can get this army of backups ready it’s him. And he’ll have to because he knows Kliff Kingsbury is looking to expose every weak spot he can find.
Run It – If TCU were at full strength they’d obviously be able to handle themselves in a shoot-out against Tech. However they’re not. Long, chain-moving drives crafted by Boykin and RB Aaron Green will be needed to keep Mahomes and his surrounding cast off the field. Winning the time of possession battle will be critical for the Frogs. Also, Tech’s soft underbelly is their running defense which ranks dead last in the Big 12 allowing a whopping 5.2 yards per carry and 260 yards per game.
Win The QB Duel – The stage is set. Make no mistake about it, this game has the makings of what very well could be one of the great quarterback duels of the year. Boykin and Mahomes are not only putting up incredible numbers but they’re neck and neck in so many key categories. Passing Yards: Mahomes 1029, Boykin 985. Completion %: Mahomes 66.4, Boykin 65.7. Touchdowns: Boykin 10, Mahomes 9. Chances are, whichever quarterback has the best game will claim the victory for their team.
What Horned Frog Fans Want To See
New play-makers. You don’t earn a number three ranking having only great starters and mediocre backups. The Frog’s defense has certainly been fleeced. However, it’s times like these that the up-and-comers get a shot to make a name for themselves and you can be sure that they’ll be ready to do just that which is exactly what the fans would love to see. Great teams find a way to work through injuries. Even though TCU is favored, if their embattled defense can find a way to slow Mahomes and company down enough to get the win, then the confidence in Fort Worth will be brimming high enough to carry them all the way to the playoffs.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Their offense is rolling, their defense is improving and their head coach is focused on destroying his enemies. It’s just plain scary. However there are still plenty of questions the Red Raiders have to answer before they’ll be taken seriously. Specifically, can their defense even slow down an offense like the visiting Horned Frogs will bring with them? A win would most likely catapult Tech into the top 25. A loss would bring fear back to the fan base. Fear that the Red Raiders can’t get over the hump.
Key Players For Texas Tech
Patrick Mahomes – Through three games Mahomes has thrown for 1,029 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also tacked on 129 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. But of all the stats surrounding the Tech QB, the most amazing one is that the number of sacks he’s taken remains at zero. Is this is a testament to the offensive line? Absolutely. But Mahomes’ ability to escape the pocket and extend plays is what seems to be keeping DC’s up at night. And like many effective duel-threat QB’s, Mahomes does a fantastic job of getting the ball in the hands of the speedy Tech play-makers to let them work their magic. Last week against Arkansas seven different receivers had catches and if he has an off day it could be another long afternoon for the Red Raiders at the hands of TCU.
DeAndre Washington – Eight yards-per-carry. That’s what Washington is averaging this year through three games including an 11-carry, 75 yard (6.8 YPC) effort against the Razorbacks. The Maxwell and Doak Walker Award candidate is quietly slicing and dicing defenses to pieces. He can run between the tackles, break one outside or catch screens out of the backfield. There will be some new faces on the TCU defense on Saturday which means the Frog staff will try to get creative with different looks to confuse and slow down Mahomes. The offense may have to rely on Washington to extend drives and keep Trevone Boykin on the sidelines.
Keys To The Game
Just Hang In There – David Gibbs, Tech’s DC, has already led his defensive unit to nice improvements but they also haven’t seen the likes of TCU’s offense or Trevone Boykin this year. Or anything close to it for that matter. He’ll need to put together a plan that keeps the slippery Boykin contained as play-action passing has been one of their big weaknesses. If the Red Raiders were to pull this one out it will be because the defense, while still giving up a lot of points, was able to generate a stop here or a turnover there. Just enough for their speedy offense to post one more touchdown than the Frogs.
Your Foot, Don’t Shoot It – This is an absolutely perfect game for the dreaded penalty bug to reappear and bite the Red Raiders. This is a huge match-up for Tech and it would be very easy for the squad to come out so amped up that they make mental blunders leading to a cascade of yellow flags. They’re already underdogs and the last thing they need is to help TCU’s cause with needless penalties.
Blood In The Water – You already know about the plague of injuries that have torn through TCU’s defense leaving sea of casts and bandages in its wake. If I’m Kingsbury I’m looking to expose, pounce and score on each and every weak spot created by said vacancies. The mismatches should be there for the taking. To pull of the upset Tech will have to show no mercy and go after the wounded prey.
What Red Raider Fans Want To See
A clean game. By that I mean limited penalties, no dropped passes or other mental gaffes that plagued the guys in scarlet and black all of last year. So far in this very young season, Tech looks to be back on the rise or, at the very least, showing great strides. A loss to a better TCU team where their Red Raiders played great and got beat is one thing. But another sloppily played blowout by the guys in purple would tell Tech fans that their program is a long way from being fixed. Although another thing Red Raider fans may want to see is a dominant performance by Texas A&M (that’s probably the first time ever those words have been uttered).
Sorry Tech fans, but TCU has just enough to pull this one out. Sometimes a team’s ugliest win can tell you more about them than their prettiest blowout. TCU looked pretty mediocre against Minnesota. Boykin had some overthrows and there were certainly miscues on the defense even when they were twice as healthy. They found a way to pull out a win on the road though and it was at night, on the opening game of the season, and they’ve only improved since. Many times those are the games that great teams look back on as the key win of the season. Tech, who’s miles ahead of where they were last year, gives TCU a great game, and the electric crowd at Jones Stadium gets their money’s worth. However, Boykin will be just too much for the Red Raider defense.