TCU Horned Frogs vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

No. 18 TCU Horned Frogs (10-2 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-4 SU, 10-2 ATS), Wednesday December 21st, 2011. 8:00PM EST. Poinsettia Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium San Diego, CA

By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: Texas Christian -10.5/L. Tech +10.5
Over/Under Total: 55

The TCU Horned Frogs wrapped up their 4th straight 10 win season with a 56-9 shellacking over UNLV in the regular season finale. The Horned Frogs finished the year with a 10-2 mark on the season. Looking back, the argument could be made that TCU just narrowly missed a 2nd straight undefeated season. TCU fell to Baylor 50-48 in the opener and then again in overtime to Southern Methodist midway through the year. If those two games would have went slightly different, TCU would have likely been in another BCS Bowl Game. Still even with those close losses, the Horned Frogs had a great season and will now try to get another postseason victory when they meet the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the Poinsettia Bowl.

La. Tech will be a playing the underdog role in their meeting against the Horned Frogs. TCU’s national success over the last few years definitely makes them the appetizing pick. However, the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech have put together a solid resume for 2011. The Bulldogs closed out the season with 7 straight victories to capture just their 2nd Western Athletic Conference Championship in school history. The strong late season rally allowed the Bulldogs to finish the year at the 8-4 mark which is their best regular season record in nearly two decades. Even in Louisiana Tech’s 4 losses, they were very close to pulling out wins in those games over respectable programs like Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Houston.

Now the Bulldogs attempt to put an exclamation mark on their breakout season when they meet the Horned Frogs inside Qualcomm Stadium. Odds makers opened betting lines for the Poinsettia Bowl with TCU as rather large 11 point favorites. That line has held rather steady and currently sits at TCU -10.5. Even as large favorites, the betting public has still backed TCU ATS with over 80% of the public betting action.

Luckily for the betting public, TCU knows how to put up a lot of points on opponents. In fact, the Horned Frogs rank 9th in scoring and have averaged over 41 points per game this year. The offense is led by a solid rushing attack that has racked up over 210 yards per game on the ground this season. The TCU offense is loaded with 3 different tailbacks in the backfield and they can all be very effective. Tailbacks Waymon James, Matthew Tucker, and Ed Wesley have combined for over 2,000 rushing yards with 22 touchdowns this season.

Those incredible numbers have been the product of each tailback averaging well over 6 yards per carry on the season. Louisiana Tech has been solid against the run this year allowing just 122 yards per game. Therefore it will be interesting to see how that Bulldogs rush defense holds up against one of the better rushing units they have seen this season in the Poinsettia Bowl match-up.

However, the Horned Frogs offense can also throw the ball rather effectively as well with QB Casey Pachall. Pachall has completed 67% passing for 2,715 yards with 24 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions on the season. WR Josh Bryce is the go to man in the passing game and is just 68 yards shy of reaching the 1,000 yard receiving mark on the year. One of the reasons that TCU has been so successful throwing the football is because the success of their rushing offense. TCU will run the ball around 70% of the time and then catch defenses off guard with some high percentage passes down the field. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that the rushing offense gets going to open up the rest of the offense.

For Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs will of course need to play extremely solid defense. During the last 7 games of the season in the midst of Louisiana Tech’s host streak, the defense allowed just 14 points per game during that stretch. Considering how balanced the TCU offense is both running and throwing, the Bulldogs will have to be disciplined to prevent any big plays on the defensive side of the football.

For the Bulldogs offense, their primary weapon is WR Quinton Patton. Patton has posted stellar numbers this season catching 74 passes for 1,135 yards and 10 touchdowns. Patton’s numbers on paper are even more impressive if you consider the fact that Louisiana Tech had problems behind center for much of the year. QB Nick Isham was relieved of the starting role behind center halfway through the season after tossing 7 picks with just 8 touchdown passes. QB Colby Cameron has led the team through the 2nd half of the season and has done a solid job. Cameron has avoided the turnovers for the larger majority throwing 11 touchdown passes with just 2 picks. Therefore, Cameron’s job will be simple again against the Horned Frogs by protecting the football and getting the football into the hands of Quinton Patton.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TCU’s record in the postseason is rather impressive as they have won 6 of their last 7 bowl games. Also, the Horned Frogs are 2-0 in their previous two Poinsettia Bowl appearances as well. However, I think the TCU defense is reason for concern in this game. The defense has given up 346 yards per game this season and against winning teams over 400 yards per game. I expect the Horned Frogs offense to have their way for the most part, but just do not think the defense will play well enough to cover the spread. Remember this Louisiana Tech team has cover 7 straight going 7-0 ATS and I think they cover again here. Take the Bulldogs +10.5.

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