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2018 Bowl Coverage

Cheez-It Bowl First Look: TCU And Cal Are Very Similar

TCU gained some late season momentum and found themselves in a bowl game against the California Golden Bears. What are some initial impressions of this contest?



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TCU and Cal are set to meet in the Cheez-It Bowl on December 26th, but it’s never too early to start digging into these matchups and get a quick first impression of these teams.

If you don’t know anything about this contest, what really sticks out is that these teams play very similar styles of football. Both programs have defensive-minded coaches at the helm, and a quick peak at the statistics brings out those similarities.

In most defensive categories, both squads rank in the Top 25, while most all of their offensive numbers fall right around or below 90th in the nation. As a quick glance at points allowed and points per game should tell you, neither one of these teams is probably going to score more than 20 points in this bowl game.

Another begin difference between these two squads is in the turnover department.

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As Big 12 fans are well aware, the Horned Frogs were hurt by turnovers throughout the season. Even so, Cal has actually given up more turnovers than TCU, as the Golden Bears are averaging a little over two per game this season.

Cal’s pass defense has really stepped up, though, as they’ve managed to pick off opponents 17 times. That’s not great news for TCU, who could be rolling with their third string quarterback in Arizona.

Points Per Game 24.7 22.8
Points Allowed/Game 24.4 21.3
Yards Per Game 374.6 350.2
Opp. Yards Per Game 344.4 319.4
Points Per Play .316 .285
Opp. Points Per Play .350 .299
Yards Per Play 5.2 4.7
Opp. Yards Per Play 4.8 4.5
3rd Down Conversion % 36.97 35.54
Opp. 3rd Down Conversion % 32.69 36.90
Turnovers Gained 16 24
Turnovers Lost 22 26
Average Time of Possesion 30:19 30:49

The Horned Frogs’ second string signal caller, Michael Collins, is still questionable for this game, but TCU would like to have the sophomore available if he can go.

For Cal, redshirt freshman Chase Garbers will be getting the start. Garbers has decent passing numbers, but has also been effective as a runner. He’s put up 398 yards on the ground this season.

A name to keep an eye on for the Golden Bears is running back Patrick Laird, who leads the team in yards from scrimmage. Laird is only 65 yards away from having a 1,000 yard season rushing, and might be the most talented player currently on the roster for Cal.

TCU – M. Collins 79/140 1,059 7.6 6 2 131.3
CAL – C. Garbers 147/241 1, 418 5.9 14 7 123.8
TCU –  D. Anderson 124 598 4.8 3
CAL – P. Laird 217 935 4.3 5
TCU – J. Reagor 71 1053 14.8 9
CAL – Vic Wharton 50 502 10.0 1

It’ll be interesting to see how both offenses try to get the ball to their primary playmakers. Jalen Reagor is the most dangerous weapon for the Horned Frogs, and he’s really stood out towards the end of the season. The sophomore is of course a threat as a receiver, averaging almost 15 yards per reception.

If Darius Anderson is still out for the bowl game, though, TCU will try to find creative ways to get Reagor the ball.

According to current betting lines, these two teams are just about even, but something to keep an eye is the status of some of TCU’s playmakers. The Horned Frogs have been banged up all season, so head coach Gary Patterson will definitely welcome the chance for his guys to get healthy.

Cal and TCU will kickoff inside Chase Field on the day after Christmas at 8:00 p.m.

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