2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - Portland State at TCU
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Sept. 24 at TCU 55 … Portland State 13
CFN Analysis: TCU still has an issue of its starts. It's taking way too long to get the engine rolling, and even though the explosion at the end of the first half was great, cranking out 21 points in the final 1:55, it was still just 3-3 up until the 66-yard Josh Boyce touchdown pass. The run defense did its job against one of the best running teams in the FCS, holding Portland State to 119 yards, and the game was never really in doubt after halftime, but the offense has to figure out how to come out of the tunnel rolling. Against SMU next week, the pass defense will be tested and the pass rush has to be even stronger.
(AP) FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU scored three touchdowns in a span of 1:18 just before halftime, two on passes by Casey Pachall, and Waymon James ran 65 yards for a score on the first play of the second half as the No. 20 Horned Frogs won 55-13 over Portland State on Saturday.
The Horned Frogs (3-1) extended a school record with their 22nd consecutive win at home since 2007, but were still tied 3-3 with the lower-division FCS team until finally busting loose just before halftime.
Pachall threw a quick pass to Josh Boyce, who caught the ball near the line of scrimmage and turned upfield to find a wide-open lane for a 66-yard touchdown with 1:55 left in the first half that finally put TCU ahead to stay.
Portland State (1-2) took only one snap after that before Drew Hubel's pass was deflected by Jason Verrett and intercepted by linebacker Tank Carder, the Rose Bowl defensive MVP, who weaved his way for a 26-yard touchdown. And the Frogs weren't finished before halftime.
After the Vikings went three-and-out on their next possession, Skye Dawson had a 42-yard punt return to the 11. Three plays later, Dawson caught the first of his two TD passes, a 10-yarder for a 24-3 halftime lead.
Dawson caught eight passes for 111 yards, while Boyce had four catches for 94 yards.
Pachall, the sophomore who took over for four-year graduated starter Andy Dalton, completed 14 of 20 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. He also had an interception on a ball that ricocheted off the shoulder pad of a defender and was grabbed by another one.
On the first play of the second half, James took a handoff to the right and was quickly grabbed by a couple of defenders. They pulled him toward the ground, but James rolled over on top of one of the defenders instead. James then spun away and ran to the end zone.
Officials reviewed the 65-yarder, but quickly confirmed the on-field ruling of a touchdown.
James, who finished with 136 yards on 10 carries, added an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter -- the second week in a row the Frogs have returned one for a score.
After Zach Brown's second field goal for Portland State, James fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 18. He took off toward the right sideline, shot through an open gap and picked up a couple of blockers. He then hurdled a falling defender near midfield right in front of the TCU bench and was untouched the rest of the way.
Pachall got a fortunate bounce late in the third quarter when his pass was deflected by linebacker Shane Melbo and should have probably been intercepted. Instead, the ball ended up in the hands of Dawson, the former Mountain West Conference champion sprinter. Dawson caught the ball near midfield and outran the Vikings secondary to the end zone.
Portland State opened the game with a 14-play, 71-yard drive that ended with Brown's 22-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. TCU then scored 41 consecutive points before Brown's 42-yard field goal with 12:40 left in the game.
TCU backup quarterback Matt Brown had a 4-yard keeper for a touchdown with 7:51 left.
Portland State came in as the FCS's best rushing team with 348 yards a game but had only 119 yards on 44 carries against TCU.
Vikings senior running back Cory McCaffrey, who had run for 291 yards and seven touchdowns the first two games, didn't play because of a swollen knee. Shaquille Richard scored late for Portland State's only touchdown.
Portland State (2-0) at TCU (2-1) Sept. 24, 2:00
Here's The Deal … And now things are back to normal.
After the defensive meltdown and failed comeback attempt against Baylor, TCU came back with two relatively easy wins. Not dominant, but easy, beating Air Force in a key Mountain West matchup before slogging through a lifeless first half to get by ULM. This isn't the typical TCU team of the past decade, with the defense struggling too much and the offense taking too long to drop the hammer, but it was this close to being 3-0 with everything right with the world. Mountain West play doesn't kick back in for a few weeks, playing San Diego State after dealing with SMU, but before the Horned Frogs can think about the tough road dates ahead against the Aztecs and Boise State, they have to come up with a blowout game just to show they can do it.
Portland State isn't supposed to do much in the Big Sky, but after blowing away Southern Oregon to start the season, it came up with a stunning 31-29 win over Northern Arizona. The big date and the huge test against Montana State is in a few weeks, but first, the Vikings bring the FCS's No. 1 rushing offense to Fort Worth to give TCU a challenge. PSU will put points on the board if TCU isn't paying attention. So far, TCU's mind has been elsewhere.
Why Portland State Might Win: The Pistol attack is working extremely well. Think Nevada of last year without an NFL quarterback like Colin Kaepernick running the attack. Quarterback Connor Kavanaugh has been plenty good, though, doing a little of everything so far and serving as a steady, effective playmaker who has the offense down to a T. Cory McCaffrey, the FCS's leading rusher, leads a group that's effective both inside and out, mixing it up extremely well.
The offensive line has been outstanding, paving the way for big run after big run and controlling the first two games without a problem. The pass protection has been stellar, and even though the Vikings don't throw the ball much, and they don't do it well, but the line is giving Kavanaugh time.
Why TCU Might Win: The Horned Frog offense should be able to roll without much of a problem. PSU's pass defense gives up yards almost as fast as the offense cranks them out, and anyone with a decent quarterback should be able to crank out 300 yards without breathing hard. TCU's passing attack has been a bit inconsistent, but when it's working, it puts up yards in chunks.
Even with all the problems on both sides of the ball, it's relative. Take past TCU teams out of the analysis, and this year's team is plenty good on its own, with Casey Pachall completing 60-of-87 passes for 661 yards and seven touchdowns in a pick in the first three games. His best day came in desperation mode against Baylor, throwing for 251 yards and four scores, and he should have that by the end of the third quarter if PSU doesn't generate a pass rush. The Vikings don't have much of a pass rush.
What To Watch Out For: This is the type of game to rest some key players, and the timing is right to keep giving Ed Wesley's banged up shoulder to heal. He hasn't seen any playing time yet, and he's not going to start testing things out until he has to. The running game is doing fine without him, and even more will be needed from sophomore receiver Josh Boyce, who was great against Baylor with nine catches for 96 yards and a score and busted out against ULM for seven catches for 134 yards and touchdown. A gamebreaker, as a freshman he averaged 19 yards per grab including a 93-yard backbreaker in the blowout over Utah. At 6-0 and 203 pounds he's a big, tough target who isn't afraid to go inside while also showing off the speed to be the team's most dangerous option on the outside.
What Will Happen: Head coach Gary Patterson has been getting on his Horned Frogs for not starting out hot. The team wasn't sharp against ULM, getting down 17-14 after a quarter and getting bombed on by Baylor. This week, an emphasis will be put on coming out strong on both sides of the ball, and it'll show as TCU puts this away after 20 minutes.
CFN Prediction: TCU 48 … Portland State 13
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