2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 10, TCU at Wyoming
Mountain West Fearless Predictions &
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Nov. 5 TCU 31 … at Wyoming 20
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) LARAMIE, Wyo. -- TCU found its running game to be both a blessing and curse against Wyoming.
The Horned Frogs rushed for a season-high 390 yards and four touchdowns in beating Wyoming 31-20 Saturday for its fourth win a row.
But TCU also lost four fumbles, including two within Wyoming's 10 yard line.
"We were lucky," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "You got to protect the football; we didn't do a good job of that. We won't be able to win the game next week if we don't protect the football."
The Horned Frogs, who travel to No. 5 Boise State next weekend, extended their record Mountain West Conference win streak to 21 games and tied the league record for consecutive conference road wins at 11. BYU, which is no longer a member of the Mountain West, won 11 straight from 2005-07.
Ed Wesley rushed for 120 yards and two TDs and Waymon James added a career-high 181 yards on the ground to lead TCU (7-2, 4-0).
Matthew Tucker added 90 yards and two TDs rushing. Casey Pachall completed 17 of 24 passes for 227 yards and an interception.
TCU gained a season-high 617 yards total offense.
Brett Smith led Wyoming (5-3, 2-1) with 210 yards and two touchdowns passing and 68 yards rushing before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter after taking a hard hit from TCU's Tank Carder.
"A lot of people said that changed the momentum of the game," Carder said. "It's awesome that I was a part of that and able to do that for us so that we can get a win and come out here and go into Boise undefeated in conference."
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said the loss of Smith "may have knocked some wind out of our sails."
"The kids still came out and competed with five takeaways," Christensen said. "We moved the ball and scored some points."
Smith is expected to play next week when Wyoming travels to Air Force.
The loss ended Wyoming's two-game win streak and kept the Cowboys from their first 3-0 start in the Mountain West.
The last time Wyoming began a season 3-0 in conference play was 1998, when it was a member of the Western Athletic Conference and finished a game out of first place in the WAC Mountain Division.
The game was tied 17-17 at halftime after Wyoming defensive back Blair Burns intercepted a Pachall pass at the goal line with 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter. TCU, which had gone the previous two games without a turnover, had five turnovers, including three in the red zone.
"You can't turn the ball over in the red zone; you have to at least get a field goal," Patterson said. "The one I was really upset with was the interception right before the half. If we don't throw the ball away, we are up 20-17. There was no reason for that ball to be thrown."
TCU's first-half points came on a 5-yard run by Tucker, 2-yard run by Wesley and 35-yard field goal by Ross Evans.
The Cowboys scored on a 7-yard pass from Smith to Josh Doctson, an 18-yard pass from Smith to Mazi Ogbonna and a 33-yard field goal by Daniel Sullivan.
Wyoming opened the second half with 53-yard drive that resulted in a 48-yard field goal by Sullivan to take a 20-17 edge.
But TCU took the lead late in the third quarter with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Wesley scoring from 4 yards out.
The only score in the fourth quarter came on a 4-yard run by Tucker.
TCU's defense limited Wyoming's offense to 147 yards in the second half.
"We came out with a good plan, executed it well in the first half," said Cowboys receiver Chris McNeil, who caught five passes for 99 yards. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to produce more yards and points in the second half."
TCU (6-2) at Wyoming (5-2) Sat, Nov 05, 2:00pm ET, The Mtn,
Here’s The Deal… Each of these programs have a defensive tradition that goes back longer than the MWC has existed, and both defenses happen to have been in need of rehabilitation this year. At this point, both are pulling themselves together. Wyoming is suddenly a true threat in the MWC to win the title. It is already 2-0 in conference, and has clearly stepped up its 3rd down conversion defense since its ricochet off rock bottom loss to Utah State, which seems to have served as a major wake up call. TCU’s Wake up came against cross-town rival SMU that was permitted nearly 50% 3rd down conversion and more than 450 yards. Since then both statistics have improved dramatically.
Both teams are clearly in an upward trajectory. Both have benefited around a recent bye week. This game will be played at elevation, probably under snow, and at Laramie, so expect any edge perception toward the more traditionally successful TCU to be balanced quite a bit.
Why TCU might win: Forced turnovers. This is the one single most glaring area TCU has clearly improved on defense to take control of its 2011 season, by forcing turnovers. The emergence of a new generation of team contributors like freshman weak safety Jonathan Anderson is also to credit, but the sum of the defense is more a team effort than an accounting of it’s parts. Currently TCU is 38th in total defense nationally, but expect that ranking to continue to climb as TCU has really only jelled on defense following the SMU loss. Currently TCU is tied for 18th in turnover margin nationally, but 10 of its 16 total turnovers gained have come in the last three games. The connection between the defensive performance and the turnover margin should be obvious.
Why Wyoming might win: Senior defensive end Josh Biezuns. Following the loss to Utah State, Wyoming installed more nickel packages and moved personnel around. Currently Wyoming is still sitting on only the 105th ranked total defense, but with the new personnel changes the team is looking more like the defensive team Wyoming fans are accustomed to. Looking at TCU’s 8th national ranked scoring offense against Wyoming’s 85th scoring defense is a little misleading, Wyoming’s D has only just gotten started. Biezunes has never been part of the problem, he’s been consistent all year, but he very well could help with the solution. Making TCU one dimensional by putting on pass pressure without committing an extra defensive back will be a prerequisite to Wyoming’s plan. That’s where Biezunes comes in.
What To Watch Out For: Turnovers, TCU is 18th in the nation in turnover margin, but Wyoming is 10th. Look specifically for attempts to strip the ball and big impacts to pop it away from an offensive player. On that second note, the game will get physical so expect prudent injury prevention officiating from the referees. A hot temper and a targeting helmet call could be the difference in this game. Who gets the best of the turnover margin almost certainly will be.
What Will Happen: The game is in Laramie under what is expected to be inclement weather.
Expect the TCU ground game to control the day and
Wyoming won't be able to keep up the pace. Both
teams are clearly on an upward trajectory, but TCU
started out from a higher launch pad. Expect TCU to
be a little more disciplined and a little less
likely draw dumb penalties.
CFN Prediction: TCU 35 ... Wyoming 10
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