This is a completely different Tech team than what TCU would have seen a year ago, one that is defensive minded and more than capable of playing in and winning big games against ranked opponents, as they demonstrated just last week, knocking off West Virginia in Lubbock in an absolute thrashing. Of course, the Frogs are also coming off a big win of their own down in Waco, so this is a match up of two red hot teams that have offenses that can score and defenses that can make stops and turn teams over.
The question is which team can carry the positive momentum through without the let down that generally comes after a big, emotional win? Tech's beat-down of WVU is definitely the bigger upset, but there weren't many that thought TCU would roll down to Waco and put the hurt on Baylor, let alone win the game (presented company excluded, of course). I like to think/hope that this wasn't a fluke win for Trevone Boykin and co, but the coming out party for a talented young QB who can shine when given the proper time in practice to prepare. The defense was clearly no fluke as TCU leads the country in interceptions and has shown that last year was the off year, and the Frogs are back to dominating ways that we have grown accustomed to under GMFP.
The keys on Saturday won't be much different than last week; ball security, pressure on QB Seth Doege, and shutting down the run. If Boykin shows the same accuracy and escapability in the pocket, it's going to be a long day for the Red Raiders. That said, the Tech defense is an actual thing, not like the Baylor "defense" that throws out 11 middle schoolers I think. Tech is holding teams to about 16 points a game, good for 16th in the country, while they average 40+ on O and are a top five passing team. Something has to give, as the Frogs are only giving up 14 a game, and though they don't have the ridiculous offensive stats, red zone turnovers have a lot to do with that.
I think we will see Tech force Boykin to be accurate and pick his spots and make plays with his legs. Tech will try and shut down the running game, which has shown flashes but not been exceptional, and keep Boykin in the pocket so that he has to stand in and make accurate throws down the field. #2 is only going to get better throughout the year, but this is the stiffest test he's faced in his young career. There will be mistakes, but ultimately I think he does enough to get the job done, and it was obvious on Saturday that the guys are going to play hard for him. We continue to have revelations in our wide receiver core, and it seems like a different guy steps up weekly, in addition to Boyce and Carter who have been excellent. Boykin will throw for 200 yards and run for another 40, accounting for two scores.
The running game seems to be improving steadily, and BJ Catalon is an exciting young guy to watch. Dean was serviceable last week, and with Tucker still a question mark, he's going to have to take that next step up. I think we see BJ break through with his first collegiate TD this week.
The defense has looked strong, fast, and nasty, and that's not going to change with an in-state rival coming to town. Devonte Fields, who SI named a mid-season All American, has been ridiculous, and is quite possibly the best freshman defender in the country. He makes plays every game, and seems to spend most of his time in the backfield. Seth Doege is not going to like meeting this guy tomorrow afternoon. Jason Verrett has been solid all season long, and after struggling against Iowa State, Kevin White was better on Saturday, but there is going to be a ton of pressure on the secondary to limit the big plays and keep Doege off the field. If they can continue to pick off passes and pressure the QB, it obviously makes life much easier for Bumpas and GP.
I think we all want to see Skye break a long return and justify the fact that he is still returning punts. This is the game where it finally happens! (hopefully) Oberkrom is my favorite kicker ever and Perry has boomed some big punts and is a weapon as far as field position is concerned. Special Teams is becoming a strength.
This is a game that could really go either way, but I have my purple tinted glasses on and think TCU comes out on top, 27-24, with Oberkrom kicking the winning FG late in the game after a long Boykin run. Share your predictions in the comments - Final Score, Tortillas Thrown, Parking Lot Brawls, and if the chance of a closely fought game is enough to keep the stands full for four quarters.