Oregon Ducks (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Valero Alamo Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday, January 2, 2016 at 6:45PM EST
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ORE pk/TCU pk
Over/Under Total: 78
The Oregon Ducks meet the TCU Horned Frogs in the Valero Alamo Bowl on January 2 in San Antonio. The site is just a few hours from the TCU campus. TCU won 10 games this season, but lost two of their last four, which proved to be costly. Injuries came at the wrong time, with the Horned Frogs having a heavily back-loaded schedule. Still, they managed to close out the season in style with an overtime win over Baylor. Oregon, meanwhile, ended the season with 6 straight wins and may be one of the better teams in the country. Its just too bad that they lost 3 times earlier this season or theyd have a chance to prove it. With season-ending wins over ranked USC, conference champion Stanford, and Oregon State, they head into this game with a nice head of steam.
Oregon had issues earlier this season. A 3-point loss to Michigan State was one thing, but getting rocked by 42 at home by Utah was a rock-bottom moment for this team. And another home loss, this time to Washington State, suggested a difficult time for Oregon this season. But six straight wins, all in conference and against some tough teams, have seen the Ducks right the ship. In their last 5 games, theyre averaging over 48 points scored a game are really humming along nicely entering this game.
TCU was in the mix, sitting at 8-0 with a chance to win their way into the CFP with Big 12 powers Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Baylor still ahead on the schedule. They lost by 20 to Oklahoma State and by one point against Oklahoma, who is now in the Playoff. And while they beat Baylor to end the season, Baylor was in even worse shape at quarterback. Trevone Boykin stormed to the win on a heavily-taped ankle and well see if hes going to be near 100% in this game, though they will have had over a month to get ready for this.
All things considered, it wasnt a terrible ending for TCU. Going from having sights set on the CFP and ending up in the Alamo Bowl is a bit of a fall. But with the injuries piling up, it was about as good as they could hope for. They came a point from beating Oklahoma and beat Baylor, while the top contributors to the team were injured. Boykins ankle has been a major issue, as has the loss of top receiver Josh Doctson. This was, after all, a team that was among the top offenses in the country, able to shove an unbelievable amount of production into one offense. And with the key losses, theyve lost some of that explosiveness. They havent gotten out of the 20s in scoring in their last three games.
Still, Boykin should be expected to play and give a good effort with the nearly 5 weeks rest. Aaron Green is a tremendous and clutch running back with 11 touchdowns. Boykin has added 9 touchdowns on the ground to go along with his 31 touchdowns. With Doctsons status being iffy, guys like Kolby Listenbee, Shaun Nixon, and KaVontae Turpin will need to pick up the slack.
The TCU defense has been far from foolproof this season. Theyve given up 37 to SMU, 52 to Texas Tech, 45 to Kansas State, and 49 to Oklahoma State. That doesnt set up wonderfully as they are set to take on an Oregon offense that has really found its stride. And while theyre by no means a hopeless unit, holding Oklahoma to a respectable 30 and Baylor to 21, they can be exploited against the better offenses they face, one of which they will be facing in this game.
Oregon deserves a lot of credit for their fine coaching, player performances, and the overall wherewithal it took to excavate themselves from what looked to be shaping into an awful season. QB Vernon Adams, Jr. overcame early inconsistent play and a nagging thumb injury to eventually become the player the Ducks had hoped he would be. He ended up with 26 TD throws and just 6 picks. He works with some talented pass-catchers with guys like Bralon Addison, Darren Carrington, and Dwayne Stafford. But their main weapon is their ground game, led by Royce Freeman, who has 1708 yards and 16 touchdowns. Also chipping in to the run game is Taj Griffin, Kani Benoit, and Tony Brooks-James. Its the 6th-ranked offense in the country at 43.2 points per game.
The Oregon defense has some troubling stats, though a lot of that is weighted down from poor results from earlier in the season. Make no mistake, however, as they are a readily-exploitable group, giving up 40 or more points 5 times this season. And though it hasnt shown with their offense playing so well, theyve been giving up an awful lot of pointsespecially for a team that gets so much support from the nations 5th ranked rushing offense. And while theyve been better in some spots, a defense that gives up an average of almost 37 points per game figures to be in for some trouble against a TCU offense.
This should be a nice shootout, as the total of 78 points attests. Its an appetizing matchup, one of the better on the bowl schedule. Oregon has better momentum and less outstanding injury issues. A lot of this boils down to how bankable the TCU offense will be on January 2. Will Boykin be ready to go at full speed? Will Doctson be able to play? Oregon has all their pieces and superior firepower at this point and while their defense might and probably will let them down at points in the game, I see Oregon winning the footrace.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oregon Ducks in a pick em.
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