West Virginia Mountaineers (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS) vs. No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs (1-0 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Thursday October 29th, 7:30PM EST
Where: Amon G Carter Stadium Fort Worth, T.X.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WVU +14/TCU -14
Over/Under Total: TBA
The 5th ranked TCU Horned Frogs will put their undefeated record on the line this Thursday night when they host the West Virginia Mountaineers inside Amon G Carter Stadium. TCU is among 3 teams still unbeaten in the Big 12 which includes both Oklahoma State and Baylor. The Bears have been the overall favorite to emerge from the conference with an unblemished record and possibly contend for the National Championship due to the way they have manhandled the competition. However with the new injury to Baylor QB Seth Russell, it has opened up a plethora of possibilities on how this season could wind down in the Big 12.
With Russell out for the year at Baylor, TCU may have the best opportunity to capitalize and run the table. The Horned Frogs have survived their share of close games most notably against Texas Tech and Kansas State. The question is can they keep it together for another 5 games to close out the year undefeated? The defense has not been particularly good giving up 397 yards per game (68th in FBS). In those two games against Texas Tech and Kansas State, the TCU defense relinquished 97 combined points and nearly 1,000 total yards combined as well. It is those types of performances from the defense that raises doubt on just how far this TCU team can go this year and it will be interesting to see how they perform against a good West Virginia team this Thursday.
Statistically, West Virginia owns the 19th best offense in America averaging 485.5 yards per game. The offense is loaded with weapons from quarterback Skyler Howard, running back Wendell Smallwood, and receiver Shelton Gibson. Those guys should be able to keep some pressure on TCUs defense in a number of ways as long as they perform well. Unfortunately, things have not gone West Virginias way as of late especially at the quarterback position.
Howard has posted 3 straight poor performances in their last 3 games against ranked teams that have all resulted in losses. In fact, Howard has hit just 51% of his passes during that stretch totaling 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. While the offense has still been able to move the football from a yardage standpoint, those turnovers and incompletions have resulted in stalled out drivers and the inability to put enough points on the scoreboard. For West Virginia to get back on track this Thursday, they will desperately need a strong performance out of Howard and the Mountaineers defense.
TCU has been an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses primarily behind the play of senior quarterback Trevone Boykin. Boykin has literally done it all for the TCU offense. The senior has completed 66% of his passes for 2,539 yards with 25 touchdowns and just 5 picks. Additionally, Boykin has also been a huge threat in the run game with 440 yards and an additional 5 touchdowns. The potential Heisman hopeful has posted 5 straight games of at least 300 yards passing and he will get a chance to take aim at a pretty soft West Virginia defense this Thursday in effort to keep the momentum rolling.
The Mountaineers are not terrible on defense but I think the problem they will have this week is finding a way to slow down both running back Aaron Greene and WR Josh Doctson. Doctson is 2nd in the FBS with 1,067 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Greene has also been pretty good with 632 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground. The problem that defenses typically have is trying to slow one or the other down and I am not sure West Virginia has the talent to accomplish both feats. You can give extra help to cover Doctson, but then the TCU offense can spread their receivers out and make it nearly impossible to stop the run with Greene and Boykin with a limited number of defenders at the line of scrimmage.
However if defenses try to load the box then they typically cannot give enough help towards stopping Doctson on the outside which seems to help the rest of the TCU receivers. Therefore it will be interesting to see if West Virginias coaching staff can draw up a scheme that can find a happy medium and slow down the Horned Frogs explosive offense. If West Virginia is going to score an upset or even a cover, they need to hold TCU to a decently low number.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: West Virginia is 0-3 in their last 3 games against ranked teams but this is their all or nothing opportunity. I think they will make the plays and be close enough for a chance to win as the game winds down. Take West Virginia +14
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