Reviews of tonight's game between the Oregon State Beavers and the TCU Horned Frogs are plentiful, and because this is each team's first game, almost worthless. Fact is, the Beavers don't know how their quarterback will perform under high pressure, and the Frogs don't know if they've learned how to foil the Frog-stopping schemes Boise State showed the world in January.
There's been much made about how TCU wins games except those in which Dalton throws multiple interceptions. The correlation is strong. But just as strong is the correlation of losses with poor performances on the ground. In the three years of Andy Dalton's starting career, TCU is 2-7 when rushing for less than 129 yards in a game—and 2-8 when you consider Utah loss in '08, when TCU netted only 79 yards after the first quarter. Oregon State coach Mike Riley calls this key, "Their game is this," Riley said, "they don't want you to run the ball. They are committed to that." OSU DC Mark Banker agrees, "But (stopping) the run game and their read-zone concept is the key." Indeed, the Wimple's key to tonight's opener against the Beavers is Biblically simple: thou shalt run the ball. TCU's passing game is a compliment to its rushing game, and whichever team rushes well in the Death Star tonight will win.
That said, the matchups favor TCU, largely because the Frogs have one of the nation's most experienced quarterbacks at the helm, while the Beavers are starting Ryan Katz for the first time. TCU also uses its wide receivers more evenly than OSU, which favors James Rodgers over the others. The Frogs will have quietude in which to work, offensively, though it is not clear that the Beavers won't also share that luxury.
Las Vegas thinks TCU will win the game handily—the line has favored the Frogs by 13.5 points for a few weeks. That seems a little much, given Gary Patterson's typical conservatism in openers, and the strength of Oregon State in all parts except quarterback experience. The Wimple sees TCU feeling more relieved than triumphant when this game is over: TCU 27, Oregon State 20.