BYU Cougars (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, College Football Week 9, Friday, October 28, 2011, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas, TV: ESPN
by Scotty L, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Brigham Young +12/Texas Christian -12
Over/Under Total: OFF
On Friday evening the BYU Cougars travel to Cowboys Stadium to face the TCU Horned Frogs. While TCU will be away from their home digs, it should be considered a home advantage playing close to home against their opponents from Utah. Both teams look to continue their positive inertia, with Texas Christian winning 5 of 6 and BYU on a 5-game winning streak.
There were some bumps early for Brigham Young University after a week one 14-13 win at Ole Miss. A one-point loss to Texas was forgivable, as the Cougars were 8-point dogs. But in losing to Utah 54-10 at home, BYU looked to be facing a long season. While that loss was baffling, especially as Utah has dropped 3 of their subsequent 4 games, BYU has rebuilt from that experience with aplomb.
The Cougars D, so scorched against Utah, has given up under 18 points per game in their 5-game streak. This has allowed a rough-around-the-edges BYU offense to find their footing. Averaging 40+ points a game in their last 3 speaks to some growth, featuring QB Riley Nelson and a running and catching crew that boasts of depth. A midseason replacement for Jake Heaps, Nelson is completing over 60% of his passes with 11 touchdowns against only 3 picks. The offense has blossomed a bit under his generalship.
TCU might not be the BCS threat of recent campaigns at 5-2, but this is still a team with talent and clear goals. Playing as favorites, they lost a week one shootout to Baylor and a week five game to SMU. The last two weeks point to some improvement–a nice 27-14 win at San Diego State and a 69-0 blowout of horrific New Mexico. Texas Christians goal is to win the Mountain West Conference and you can almost sense them trying to peak for a November 12 game at Boise State.
While they arent the team of last year, you have to at least entertain the fact that TCU has lost only 3 second-half regular season games since 2004. Theyre a historically late-surging team that picks up steam with each passing week. This years squad seems to be following suit. QB Casey Pachall is putting together a nice season with nearly 70% completions with 17 TDs and only 4 interceptions. He has tools in the pass catching crew, featuring Josh Boyce (38-604-5). RB Matthew Tucker has rushed for 7 touchdowns with RB Waymon James rushing at a 7.8 clip. This is the nations 8th top scoring offense.
TCU is at home and by far the more successful program in recent years. But looking at each teams record–there isnt much to separate the two. BYU is 6-2, while TCU is 5-2. Theyve had some disappointing losses, but have taken care of the opponents they were supposed to beat. In addition, both teams appear to be improving on both sides of the ball.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: BYU has done well to bounce back from a 1-2 start and especially a 44-point loss at home. But one wonders if theyve benefitted from being at home so much, with only one road game since September 10. Now they have to go into what figures to be an enthusiastic pro-TCU throng. Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson appears to have his team going well and is renowned for whipping his team into shape at just the right time.
Beating TCU at home is typically very difficult, especially this time in the year and BYU might not be up for the task. While you can say the same thing about TCU to some extent, the Cougars might not be quite as good as their record suggests. Their defense, which has bent without breaking in recent weeks, will be up against it at Cowboys Stadium. Facing a TCU team looking to make a statement at home with the stage all to themselves on Friday night, look for BYU to fall out of contention late. TCU will pull away for a win and cover. Take the TCU Horned Frogs minus 12 points.
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