Since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012, fans of the conference have regularly been treated to a game that should be dubbed the “Purple Bowl.” This year both of these teams will meet in Manhattan, Kansas with more in common than the color of their jerseys.
Kansas State and TCU are looking for answers midway through the season, with many of their toughest contests still ahead. The Wildcats shot out to 3-0 and looked like they might exceed expectations in a big way in head coach Chris Klieman’s first year. After dropping their first two Big 12 contests, though, Kansas State has people wondering whether that undefeated start might have been a bit of fluke.
Similarly, the Horned Frogs came into the season hoping to bounce back from last year’s 4-5 mark in the Big 12. The key to that was going to be an elite defense and an offense that could move the ball consistently. TCU has had to weather the growing pains of a freshman quarterback, though, and a defense that’s given up an uncharacteristic amount of points.
Each squad could use a win here, especially as far as their bowl hopes are concerned. TCU head coach Gary Patterson will try to extend his two game winning streak, while Klieman will look to get his first Big 12 win.
- When: Sat, Oct 19, 1:30 PM CT
- Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS
- Forecast: Mostly Sunny, High of 70°F
- Stream: Fox Sports Go
- Betting Line: TCU -3.5, O/U 44.5
TCU Horned Frogs
Offensively, the Horned Frogs have been up and down in 2019. That could in part be attributed to the fact that they’ve got a true freshman starting quarterback in Max Duggan. Duggan looks like he has a bright future in Fort Worth, but has struggled at times through the first half of the season. He’s yet to throw an interception, but is completing only 56.6 percent of his passes.
What TCU can hang their hat on, however, is their ability to run the ball. The Horned Frogs are averaging 5.3 yards per carry behind running backs Darius Anderson, Sewo Olonilua, and Darwin Barlow. As Duggan continues to mature into his role as the starting signal caller, expect TCU to continue to lean on that rushing attack.
Defensively, the Horned Frogs have been limiting opponents in terms of yards gained, but have had a few poor showings after giving up more than 40 points on two occasions so far. TCU has talented players at every level, including Ross Blacklock on the line, Garrett Wallow (who leads the team in tackles with 55) at linebacker, and Jeff Gladney in the secondary. The Horned Frogs have been uncharacteristically inconsistent, though, especially among some of the new faces on the defense this season.
Of course, the defensive side of the ball is what Patterson hangs his hat on, and one key to watch in Manhattan is whether the defense can bring it all together this week.
TCU Keys to the Game
Stuff The Run Early: The key to stopping the Kansas State offense is to keep them from being able to move the ball on the ground. If TCU is able to do that early in the game, they can grind the Wildcats offense to a halt, and pick up some good field position for themselves.
Protect The Football: As the favorite going into this game, the most likely reason that TCU will lose this game is by giving the ball back to the Wildcats. Kansas State themselves protect the ball really well, so any mistakes that the Horned Frogs make in this game in terms of turning the ball over will be huge.
Play For Field Position: This game is likely to be a low scoring affair, and with both of these teams struggling to throw the ball, field position will be a big deal. If TCU can find a way to pin Kansas State deep in their own end, the Horned Frogs will set themselves up with a better chance to get some points.
Kansas State Wildcats
Through two losses, most Kansas State’s struggles have come on the offensive side of the ball. Since Klieman came to Manhattan, the Wildcats have opted for a more run-heavy offense, one that goes to the ground game on about two-thirds of their play calls. Kansas State’s been fairly successful in doing so, averaging 217.8 yards per game rushing.
Where the Wildcats have struggled, however, is in pushing the ball downfield through the air. Quarterback Skylar Thompson has taken care of the ball, having thrown only one interception so far this season, but he’s also only been able to throw five total touchdown passes. All told, Kansas State is averaging 171.8 yards passing per game, currently placing them at 113th in FBS.
Kansas State’s defense, on the other hand, has been a strength for this team in 2019. The Wildcats’ pass defense currently ranks first in the Big 12, holding opponents to 155.4 yards per game through the air. That’s been in part due to players like Denzel Goolsby and AJ Parker, who are two of the better defensive backs in the conference.
Of particular concern for defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton is the amount of rushing yards given up by the Wildcats this season. Opposing offenses have been able to move the ball against Kansas State’s front seven, and the Wildcats have been giving up 188.6 yards per game rushing.
Kansas State Keys To The Game
Move The Ball On Second Down: Kansas State has especially struggled on offense when they get into more obvious passing situations. Having success – and being more unpredictable – on second down will be key for the Wildcats.
Stack The Box: The Wildcats have not been great against the run this season, and have one of the worst statistical rush defenses in the Big 12. Because of that, Kansas State doesn’t have much of a choice in this one but to sell out to stop the Horned Frogs on offense. If they can force TCU to beat them with Max Duggan, though, Kansas State could catch some momentum at home.
Take Some Chances: Manhattan is the kind of place that usually has a distinct home field advantage, and with that, Kansas State can catch some momentum if they make a big play with a little bit of trickeration.
Kansas State has a history of being tough to play at home, and the Wildcats are definitely in a little bit of a desperate situation right now. This is a very winnable game for Kansas State, but in order to get the upset they are going to have to find a way to generate some big plays, even if they have to get big special teams plays there.
TCU is a favorite in this game for a reason, though. The biggest liability in this game probably falls to the Wildcats and their rush defense. Coming off an embarrassing road loss, I think Gary Patterson will have his team ready to play and I would expect them to come out prepared to have a good defensive performance.
I see this as a close game, and I’m probably leaning towards the under given the 44.5 point Over/Under. I will take TCU to win this game, but I think it’ll probably be pretty close to a field goal contest.