Week 8 - Texas Tech at TCU

Posted Oct 18, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction & Game Analysis – Texas Tech at TCU

Texas Tech (5-1) at TCU (5-1) Oct. 20, 3:30, ABC

Here's The Deal: Last week at this time, who'd have ever thought that this matchup would actually matter in the Big 12 title chase? Texas Tech was blasted by Oklahoma and TCU was drubbed by Iowa State, but just when it seemed like both were going to spend the rest of the year languishing in also-ran status, they each pulled off terrific performances to change everything around.

TCU bounced back from the loss of starting quarterback Casey Pachall to get a big day out of Trevone Boykin on the way to a 49-21 blasting of Baylor. Everything worked with the defense keeping the high-powered Bears in check, while the offense was effective and efficient after being stagnant and error-prone against the Cyclones. There's still plenty of time and several chances to make a lot of noise in the Big 12 title chase, but the back half of the year is a bear with all the big boys coming up. It's not a stretch to suggest that with road games at Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas, to go along with home dates against Kansas State and Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs might need this home win now to secure a bowl bid.

It's a little different for Texas Tech, with home games against Texas and Kansas and a road game against Baylor, there are plenty of wins still out there for the taking after being done with OU and after last week's 49-14 shocker over West Virginia. The defense has been tremendous and the offense is as high-flying and efficient as ever. But with four of the last six games on the road, starting this week, it's going to take a little luck to stay alive in the title chase.

The two teams haven't played since 2006 – a 12-3 TCU win – and have only met twice since the Southwest Conference days that ended in 1995. This time around, both teams are ranked and the national spotlight will be on.

Why Texas Tech Might Win: Don't let TCU's win over Baylor fool you – that was against Baylor, not West Virginia. The Horned Frogs were able to get by Baylor thanks to six takeaways with four picks of Nick Florence and two fumble recoveries. Meanwhile, the putrid Baylor defense made Trevone Boykin look like RG3 with midrange completion after midrange completion and no pressure to worry about. Texas Tech leads the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and didn't allow West Virginia's Geno Smith to connect on the big play. The secondary will give up catches, but it isn't getting torched and the yards after the catch have been kept to a minimum.

The Red Raider passing game is humming. Seth Doege was phenomenal against West Virginia throwing for 499 yards and six scores, and while there were mistakes against Oklahoma with three picks, he was still able to get the passing game moving. TCU lost to Iowa State because the turnovers wouldn't stop, and if Boykin and the Horned Frogs are mistake-prone again, Doege will take advantage. This is a very, very opportunistic Red Raider attack.

Why TCU Might Win: Turnover margin. The Horned Frogs screwed up royally against Iowa State and kept putting the ball on the ground against Kansas, but despite the 14 turnovers on the season they've been able to overcome their problems with 20 takeaways. The TCU secondary is taking away the ball in bunches, screwing up SMU with five picks, destroying Baylor with four and coming up with at least one interception in every game this year. After taking the ball away just once against Grambling, TCU has come up with multiple turnovers in every game except the loss to Iowa State. Meanwhile, Texas Tech, despite the great performances on D, isn't coming up with the big plays with a mere seven takeaways on the season.

Part of the reason for the lack of turnovers is the lack of a pass rush. Texas Tech doesn't get to the quarterback on a regular basis with a mere nine sacks on the season, and while that hasn't mattered too much in terms of the pass defense, it could be a problem against Boykin. Young, inexperienced quarterbacks need to be pressured, and Boykin should have plenty of time to work.

What To Watch Out For: Devonte Fields has become the next great TCU pass rusher. It's been a little bit of a stunner, but the freshman has turned into a star right away ranking tenth in the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss getting to the quarterback 6.5 times and into the backfield 15 times. Even with offenses keying on him he's still making things happen and he has been consistent enough to be counted on for a few big plays per game. He needs to provide the pressure to throw off Doege.

The Red Raiders are getting a huge year out of tight end Jace Amaro, who got past a rocky offseason and off-the-field problems to be the team's leading receiver with 23 catches for 394 yards and four scores. Last week he torched West Virginia for 156 yards and a score on five catches, and while he's not going to make too many grabs, he'll keep the chains and the offense moving.

What Will Happen: Will the West Virginia Texas Tech show up or will it be the Oklahoma version? The active and aggressive TCU defensive front will keep the offensive numbers from blowing up, but the Red Raiders will be just effective enough in the defensive back seven to give Boykin problems. Texas Tech isn't Baylor.

CFN Prediction: Texas Tech 24 … TCU 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Texas Tech -2 O/U: 55
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 4