TCU Horned Frogs (6-0 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. BYU Cougars (6-1 SU, 3-4 ATS), 7:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 24, 2009, LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah. TV: Versus
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: TCU -2.5/BYU +2.5
TCU is undefeated at 6-0 and on its way to a BCS berth. But standing in its way this week is perhaps its biggest challenge remaining this season – a road game at BYU.
The Horned Frogs have proved once again to have an elite defense, allowing less than 14 points per game. They have the seventh best pass defense in the country and also the seventh best run defense. They opened the season with a pair of road wins in their first three games of the season over ACC teams Virginia and Clemson. Then, they barely squeaked out a win at Air Force, 20-17. In fact, the Horned Frogs haven’t had a tough game at home yet this season. All of their challenges have been on the road, so playing at BYU will be nothing new.
On offense, TCU has been able to pound the ball on the ground and limit its turnovers. The Horned Frogs have totaled 1,350 rushing yards in six games, for an average of 225 rushing yards per game. With success like that on the ground, they are tough to beat. They use a variety of runners including Joseph Turner, Edward Wesley and Matthew Tucker, but Turner leads the way with 399 yards and seven touchdowns. Quarterback Andy Dalton has been solid as well, throwing for 1,223 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions, and running for another 233 yards. The Horned Frogs have run the ball almost double (283 carries) the amount of times they’ve attempted passes (143).
BYU comes into this game with a 6-1 record, its only loss being a 54-28 blowout home loss to Florida State. The Cougars opened the season on a high note by upsetting Oklahoma, 14-13. Of course, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford was injured in that game, but getting the win was huge for the Cougars nonetheless. Other than the win over Oklahoma and the loss to Florida State, the Cougars have rolled to some easy victories. They struggled at San Diego State last week, but they came away with a 38-28 victory.
The Cougars are an offensive-minded team. They are led by quarterback Max Hall, who has thrown for 2,069 yards and 16 touchdowns. But he has had in issue with interceptions this season, as he has thrown 10 of them. If Hall turns the ball over against TCU, it’s going to be tough for BYU to win the game. Dennis Pitta leads the way on the receiving end with 34 receptions for 471 yards and five touchdowns. The Cougars move the ball mostly through the air, but they also are capable of running the ball. Running back Harvey Unga has 575 yards and nine touchdowns.
BYU’s defense has not been great this season. The Cougars are giving up 22.7 points and 238.6 passing yards. But their run defense has been decent, allowing 101.1 yards per game and a 3.5 yards-per-carry average. The Cougars also have intercepted eight passes.
BYU is 0-5 ATS in its last five home games and 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall. The total has gone over in five of BYU’s last six games. TCU is 6-1 SU in its last seven road games. The total has gone under in four of TCU’s last five road games. TCU easily won this matchup last season, 32-7.
BYU will score some points on TCU, but the Horned Frogs defense won’t give up much. They have one of the best defenses in the country, and BYU’s offense isn’t elite enough to dominate against TCU. If Hall turns the ball over like has been doing all season long, the Cougars don’t stand a chance. On the other side, the Horned Frogs have been dominating on the ground. If BYU can’t stop their running game and they make mistakes on offense, TCU could roll over the Cougars like they did last year. BYU will have to play its best defensive game of the season and mistake-free on offense to have a chance to win.
Ryno’s Pick: BYU is yet to cover at home this season in its three games in Provo. TCU blew out BYU last season. TCU is well tested on the road this season. The Horned Frogs have won at Virginia, Clemson and Air Force. BYU was blown out by 26 points by Florida State, a team not nearly on the same level as TCU. BYU has a win over Oklahoma, but that was the first game of the season and the Sooners’ Heisman QB left the game with a shoulder injury. TCU has a lot to play for with a BCS berth and an undefeated season on the line. The Horned Frogs will contain Hall, force turnovers and run all over the Cougars. Take TCU -2.5.