No. 15 TCU Horned Frogs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) at Baylor Bears (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Friday September 2nd, 2011 7:30PM EST, College Football Week 1
Floyd Casey Stadium Waco, T.X.
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper for Predictem.com
Point Spread: Texas Christian University -6.5/Baylor +6.5
Over/Under Total: 55
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The no. 15 ranked TCU Horned Frogs travel to Waco, Texas to battle with the Baylor Bears for the first nationally televised Friday night game of the college football season. The Horned Frogs were just 1 of 2 unbeaten teams in 2010 finishing with a perfect record at 13-0 which was solidified with a monumental win in the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin 21-19. Head coach Gary Patterson has placed the Horned Frogs in the national spotlight as one of college football's premiere programs. However, the Horned Frogs will have to replace a ton of talent from the 2010 crusade if they plan to remain among the nation's elite in 2011.
Stepping up to the plate in attempt to end the Horned Frogs undefeated streak will be a potentially dangerous Baylor Bears football team. The Bears reached the 7 wins plateau for the first time since 1995 last season and return 8 starters on the offensive side of the ball that recorded 31.2 points per game. Quarterback Robert Griffin had a stellar 2010 campaign completing 67% passing for 3,501 yards with 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Griffin also rushed for an additional 635 yards with 8 scores making him easily the biggest offensive threat on the field. Starting with Griffin, the Bears have a tremendous amount of potential on the offensive side of the ball. WR Kendall Wright is an emerging star that has high expectations following a year where he racked up 78 receptions for 952 yards and 7 touchdowns.
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Therefore Baylor should be a strong team throwing the football. The Bears offense will have to replace running back Jay Finley, who had over 1,000 yards rushing last season, in effort to keep the ground game rolling. However, the Bears biggest area of concern will be aimed at the defense entering the 2011 season. Baylor ranked 89th in the country last season in scoring defense giving up over 30 points per game. To make matters worse, the Bears return only 5 starters meaning there will be a lot of inexperienced players making their first appearance against the Horned Frogs.
Of course that bodes well if you are a Horned Frogs fan. TCU sported the 4th highest scoring offense in the country last year averaging a healthy 41.6 points per game. However, there will be a lot of different faces this season on offense. Coach Patterson not only lost QB Andy Dalton who became the winningest quarterback in school history, but also lost 3 of his top 4 receivers from last season as well. Sophomore QB Casy Pachall will fill-in behind center with just 9 passing attempts in his career with TCU. Furthermore, WR Josh Boyce is the only proven contributor in the receiving core. Boyce tallied 34 catches for 646 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2010 and will likely become the premier target in the passing game.
Despite the concerns in the passing game, the Horned Frogs still return a host of talented running backs who will set the tone for the offense. Junior Ed Wesley is listed the starter. Wesley rushed for 1,078 yards and 11 scores in 2010. The ground attack will also see plenty of action from back-ups Matthew Tucker and Waymon James. Tucker rushed for over 700 yards in 2010 while James averaged 6 yards per carry on 87 carries for the season.
Still, the main source of power for the Horned Frogs throughout the past several seasons has been the tremendous play of the defense. TCU owned the top ranked defense in the nation last season holding opponents to just 12 points and a mere 228 yards per game. However, the defense returns only 5 starters from the 2010 group which would be a major concern for most teams. Then again that should not be a big deal because historically the Horned Frogs never skip a beat defensively. Coach Patterson and defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas are among some of the most brilliant defensive minds in the country. Therefore, I would expect TCU to remain extremely strong on the defensive side of the ball. Even if the TCU offense struggles, the defense should keep them in position for wins each and every week.
Jay's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I do not see the TCU offense exploding in the opener this season with all of the inexperience on that side of the ball. The Horned Frogs will focus a lot of the offensive attention on the ground game which will also keep the clock running. Despite the Baylor defense having a ton of question marks, I just do not see TCU racking up a ton of points. However, I do expect the TCU defense to do their part. Therefore, take the "under 55." Good Luck!
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