BYU at TCU
(Friday, 5 pm PT – ESPN)
TCU -12 O/U 55.5
TCU -13.5 O/U 56
Rob Veno Power Rating:
Marty Otto’s Betting Take:
I’m not sure I buy into the notion that BYU’s offense is growing. Sure, since the switch to quarterback Riley Nelson the Cougars have enjoyed a nice string of wins and points (41 ppg). But look at that schedule and you’ll notice it’s littered with abysmal defensive teams; San Jose State and Oregon State are tied for 83rd nationally in scoring defense while Idaho State ranks 105th in the FCS. I’d say this team hasn’t been tested in the slightest and any perceived improvement may be premature.
Granted, TCU’s defense looked as bad as any in the country in its Week 1 loss to Baylor. Quarterback Robert Griffin torched the Horned Frogs and the track speed of the Bears wide receivers exposed a young defense that simply wasn’t ready for the spotlight. But since then they’ve not been nearly as bad as most think. TCU has manhandled the cupcakes on its schedule and held two pretty good offensive teams (SDSU and Air Force) well below their seasonal averages. The lone hiccup since Week 1 was the overtime loss to run-n-shoot based SMU. That wasn’t much of a shocker either as it should be noted the Mustangs were one of only three teams to score more than 20 points against that monster TCU defense in 2010. Adjustments have been made, players are feeling more comfortable in the system and you can really see them flying to the ball and reacting rather than thinking.
BYU doesn’t have the speed at receiver to really trouble TCU here. The quarterback switch and focus on the running game was a bit of a wildcard for the past couple of weeks and perhaps left the opposition in a hole without much tape to study and help prepare. But the mystery factor is now gone. Reading the local papers it sounds as if BYU believes its best chance for success is to keep the football on the ground once again this week. But their system is designed to attack the edge and get perimeter runs and that plays directly into TCU’s strength defensively.
On the flip side I have a hard time believing the BYU defense is going to have success on Friday. They’ve lucked into facing one dimensional offenses nearly every week thus far, whether it’s been predominately run based or pass based teams. But TCU presents real balance and explosiveness with its attack. The Horned Frogs run and pass for well over 200 yards per game and rank eighth nationally in scoring at over 40 points per game. I didn’t think this offense would be very good coming into the season but I was dead wrong as quarterback Casey Pachall has been phenomenal under center and the three back committee of Tucker, Wesley and James has led to a top 20 rushing attack.
Under the lights at home with a national TV audience, I think this is a statement game for TCU.