TCU (5-3) at (23) West Virginia (5-2)|
Saturday, Nov. 3, 3 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: With the 2012 season falling apart before their eyes, the TCU
Horned Frogs try to regain their composure this weekend, but it won't be easy
as they challenge the 23rd-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in Big 12
Conference action in Morgantown.
Expecting to make the transition to a new league without much trouble, the
Horned Frogs suffered a major loss when starting quarterback Casey Pachall
left the program early in October in order to seek inpatient treatment at a
drug and alcohol facility following an arrest on drunk driving charges. The
team was 4-0 at that stage and nationally ranked, but that wouldn't last for
Not only did TCU drop a 37-23 decision to Iowa State at home the first week of
October, the team has gone on to drop two more outings, including a 36-14
final versus Oklahoma State on the road last weekend. The back-to-back
setbacks were the first since 2007 for TCU and the defeat also snapped what
had been a streak of 14 straight conference road wins, the longest in the
nation and the third-best in college football since 1996.
As for the Mountaineers, they too opened the 2012 campaign with major
fireworks, starting with a 69-34 blowout win over in-state rival Marshall. The
team owned a five-game win streak thanks to a 48-45 victory over Texas in
Austin on Oct. 6, but then WVU began showing cracks in the armor.
The Mountaineers offense went from being one of the most potent in the nation
to coming up with just 14 points in each of the last two games, while the
defense gave up a combined 104 points. The most recent defeat came on Oct. 20
versus Kansas State in an unsightly 55-14 final, at home no less.
"No excuses, it starts with me," said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen when
talking about getting his team back on track. "We'll fix what the problems
are, we'll keep plugging along and try to get better."
The only previous meeting between these two programs took place in 1984 when
the Mountaineers captured a 31-14 win in the Bluebonnet Bowl.
Only a few weeks earlier the Mountaineers were touting quarterback Geno Smith
as a potential Heisman candidate, but against Kansas State not only did the
signal-caller disappear under the spotlight, he and the rest of West Virginia
got a taste of the latest flavor of the week in Collin Klein.
While Klein was allowed to throw for 323 yards and three touchdowns, adding
another four touchdowns on the ground, Smith managed to complete 21-of-32
passes for just 143 yards, none longer than 13 yards. Smith tossed only a
single TD, was sacked four times and had a pair of passes picked off. The only
other scoring for the Mountaineers came on a 100-yard kickoff return by Tavon
Austin late in the second quarter.
The defense for WVU had been suspect from the very start of the season and
Kansas State again exposed the group by scoring on all seven red-zone
opportunities and averaging close to eight yards per snap. Coach Holgorsen may
have felt comfortable with allowing such large numbers when his offense was
operating at peak performance, but that's no longer the case.
Granted, Smith is still second in the conference and fifth in the nation in
total offense with 353.3 ypg, and he has completed 74.3 percent of his pass
attempts for 26 touchdowns, but clearly the last two opponents have figured
out how to slow down and virtually stop the WVU offense. Austin (74
receptions, 788 yards, nine TDs) and Stedman Bailey (59 catches, 800 yards, 14
TDs) are still the best in the business down the field, but there's more to
winning games than simply running up the score whenever possible.
In fact, the WVU defense not only ranks 115th in the country in points allowed
(39.9 ppg), the group is also dead last in passing yards permitted (360.1
Ironically, the Horned Frogs have been known as a defensive stalwart in
recent years and again this season the team ranks first in the Big 12 and 12th
in the country with just 98.9 ypg allowed, but really the group needs to focus
more on getting the offense, particularly new starting quarterback Trevone
Boykin, up to speed.
It appeared as though TCU might be able to keep up with the Cowboys last
Saturday in Stillwater, scoring the first two touchdowns of the day, but after
that the squad was never heard from again, not only missing a pair of field
goals but also turning the ball over on their final three possessions of the
Quarterbacks Trevone Boykin and Matt Brown combined to hit 24-of-44 passes for
223 yards and a score, but each tossed an interception. Defensively, TCU was
rattled quite a bit by the Cowboys, but one small positive was the 11-yard
interception return for a touchdown by Elisha Olabode early in the first
"It was obvious in the third quarter and for the second week in a row that
when they turned up the gas, we couldn't finish," TCU head coach Gary
Patterson said of the competition. "I have to give Oklahoma State a lot of the
credit. They did a great job. We did a good job of holding them early to field
goals, but you have to make plays when you get your chances on offense. We
didn't do that. We can't turn the ball over."
While Boykin may be seen as a more mobile quarterback than Pachall, the truth
is this TCU offense was built around the latter, especially after he played so
well last year after stepping in for the departed Andy Dalton. After eight
games last season the Horned Frogs were ranked eighth in the nation in scoring
with 42.9 ppg and right now the team is scoring almost 10 points less (33.3
ppg) per outing and in the high-scoring Big 12 that's just not going to cut
The more the TCU offense stumbles and gives the ball back to the Mountaineers,
the more devastating the score could become for a Horned Frogs squad that
could go from a national power to sitting at home during bowl season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 41, TCU 31
10/31 10:38:09 ET