West Virginia and TCU meet for just the sixth time on Saturday. They came into the league at the same time so it feels kind of natural for them to, dare I say “rival” one another as the new kids on the playground in the Big 12. And if TCU escapes with another close win we might just have a rivalry brewing.
TCU holds the overall advantage at 3-2 in this short-lived series, and the Mountaineers have yet to beat the Horned frogs in Morgantown. The Mountaineers will be further fueled by the embarrassing loss last season. They left Fort Worth losers in a 40-10 blowout. WVU had no answers that day, and all coach Dana Holgorsen could do is hand out high fives and smile. You have to think WVU comes in with that in the back of their mind, and is looking for redemption.
This is the first big test for West Virginia before the tough part of their Big 12 schedule hits next month. They are one of two remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12 and have a chance to win their first Big 12 conference title and possibly in the college football playoffs and their schedule sets up pretty nicely for that.
TCU after losing to Oklahoma may be out of the Big 12 title race unless they can get some help with an OU loss in conference. I think the bye week was much needed as was evident from their Kansas performance, hopefully we are in store for a great game from both teams this Saturday.
Date/Time: Saturday, October 22, 2:30 CST
Where: Milan Puskar Stadium (Morgantown, West Virginia)
Forecast: Slight chance of a rain shower, winds at 10 to 20 mph high of 53 ° F
Betting Line: West Virginia -6.5, O/U 65.5
TCU Horned Frogs (4-2)
TCU is 9 points away from coming into this game undefeated losing to Arkansas by 3 and Oklahoma by 6. Last week TCU came from behind to beat a bad Kansas team on the road 24-23. That could be an effect of coming off that tough game against Oklahoma and just not being prepared for Kansas, because well Kansas. Kenny Hill is a dynamic play maker who can both run and throw the ball but did not have a good game against Kansas completing just over 50% of his passes for a measly 206 yards. TCU didn’t show us much two weeks ago except that they play up or down to their competition and if that holds true should come out hitting on all cylinders.
TCU comes off a much-needed bye week and may see some key offensive players return from injury. KaVontae Turpin (knee) a sophomore wide receiver and kick returner who has missed the last three games, is a game-time decision. Also, junior center Austin Schlottmann (foot) who started the first four games of the season before being injured is also a game-time decision for Saturday. If these are guys are 100% it could make a big difference in the game as KaVontae returned a punt for TD already this year and would be good to get him back as a receiver as well.
If TCU can make it through October at 6-2 heading into their game with hated rival Baylor on November 5th it could make for an interesting end of the season, but they will need some help to compete for the Big 12 after their week 5 loss to Oklahoma.
Keys To The Game For TCU
Run The Ball – TCU has had a hard time establishing the run with running back Kyle Hicks only going over 100 yards in 2 games this season, They will face the #71 ranked overall rush defense so if they can get that going they have a great chance of winning. They came out with 65 yards rushing the loss to Oklahoma earlier this year they need to establish the run early to set up the pass.
Turnovers Both Ways– Turnovers are huge when a team is on the road, the Frogs have forced turnovers but they have also given up a lot. They come in averaging 1.6 a game and #73 in turnover margin. Kenny Hill needs to protect the football and make better decisions in the throwing. If the Frogs can do that and capitalize on a WVU turnover or two they will be in this game in the 4th quarter.
Keep The Crowd Out Of It – Milan Puskar is known to be a rowdy place the fact that this isn’t a night game should not make a difference to these fans coming to support an undefeated team. The game has been reported as a sell out so no doubt they will be into the game so expect it to be loud and make things tough on TCU. If TCU can pull off my first two keys to the game then keeping the crowd to a dull roar should be easy.
# 12 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-0)
West Virginia comes in at 5-0 for the first time since 2012, Holgorsen’s first year as head coach. That year they lost the next five games including a double overtime loss to TCU 39-38. This year West Virginia has to be coming in with a lot of confidence after beating Texas Tech last week 48-17 in Lubbock. The Mountaineers absolutely dominated Texas Tech on their own turf, holding the #1 passing offense and #2 overall offense to just 17 points.
I’d like to think that they are coming in with a chip on their shoulder after last year’s embarrassing loss to TCU (40-10). If West Virginia can win this game they have a tough road game against Oklahoma State the next week then later on get both #16 Oklahoma and #9 Baylor at home for a chance to be included in the college football playoff.
Keys To The Game For WVU
Keep Kenny Hill Contained – Kenny Hill is no Trevone Boykin but the kid can throw and run. He has over 2,000 yards passing and is second on the team in rushing yards. If you go back to their game against BYU (4-4), Taysom Hill had his best game of the season and WVU was still able to beat the Cougars 35-32. Hill is faster and harder to contain, if the Mountaineers struggle containing him they could be in for a long day. But, the Mountaineer defense had some practice containing Mahomes last week and did a pretty good job, if they can do that again they will have a lot of success on Saturday.
Offensive Line Play – Sure, TCU doesn’t have the best secondary but they do have a good set of D-lineman and linebackers. It doesn’t matter if your receivers can out run their corners, if you don’t have time to throw the ball to them because you’re getting knocked on your back then it’s not going to matter. The offensive line did show improvement last week against Texas Tech but let’s face it Tech is no defensive juggernaut.
Air It Out– West Virginia could have a big day going up against the TCU secondary which allows 273 yards per game through the air. TCU gave up 348 yards passing to Kansas two weeks ago, so they should be able to have a great game through the air. That is if my second key of the game holds up and the 0-line gives him enough time to throw the ball.
There are two reasons why I think this game is going to go in West Virginia’s favor. First, West Virginia is coming off a week where they dominated the best offense in college football now they come home and get to play a team that has beat them the last two trips to Morgantown. You should have a lot of confidence and motivation and the Mountaineers will come out ready to play. Second, in TCU’s last game they squeaked out a win over Kansas by a point. Now I understand that Kansas is a hard game to get up for and maybe they come out fired up and ready to play against West Virginia. But I don’t think they have enough to overcome the Mountaineer defense and I don’t think the TCU secondary will be up to the task. West Virginia by 10.