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TCU vs. Kansas State: Buckle Up

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The Horned Frogs and Wildcats square off in a battle for Big 12 supremacy on Saturday night.

Justin K. Aller

Buckle up. It is going to be a fun ride to the finish and Saturday just might be the defining week of the season for Gary Patterson’s squad.

Offense

Raise your hand if you thought Matt Joeckel would be the quarterback for the Horned Frogs when Aug. 30 rolled around? I know there were a lot of you. And frankly, it seemed like a logical assumption given the struggles of junior quarterback Trevone Boykin. But now, eight games into the season, the gunslinger from West Mesquite, Texas is showing the country what he can do to the tune of 2,472 yards passing and 22 touchdowns to only four interceptions. He has also looked great running the ball at key times and has tallied four touchdowns on the season.

Once considered a great athlete that would be better utilized at either running back, receiver, or safety, Boykin has "trolled" a majority of the pundits and forced his way into the Heisman discussion due to his gaudy numbers and leadership. Boykin has been instrumental in the Horned Frogs racing out to a 7-1 record. The Horned Frogs came in at No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoff Poll released Tuesday night on ESPN. However, a less than stellar performance (12-30, 166 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) at West Virginia last week has some concerned that Boykin may be regressing just a tad.

It will be up to Boykin to get back to his mojo back if the Horned Frogs want to make the "final four" of the first college football playoff. With the late Friday news that top running back and top playmaker B.J. Catalon will be inactive for Saturday’s mammoth game against Kansas State, the onus is on Boykin to be even more special than he has been so far.

But the Horned Frogs toughest task of the season may be awaiting Boykin and the boys on Saturday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth when the Wildcats (7-1, 5-0) come to town. Bill Snyder, the Purple Wizard as many have dubbed him, is fresh off a drubbing of the freefalling Oklahoma State Cowboys and you can bet your house that his guys will be ready to ruin the dreams of Patterson and TCU fans everywhere.

Long story short, Boykin is the straw that stirs the Purple Drink in Fort Worth. If he can be efficient with his throws, make the big play when it presents itself and continue to protect the football, the TCU Horned Frogs will have a great shot at coming out on top against Kansas State Saturday night. For years, Gary Patterson has prided himself in fielding one of the nastiest defenses in college football. Consistently ranked in the top 10 in total defense, one might think the Horned Frogs are slipping a bit on the defensive side of the ball this season.

Defense

"Welcome to the Dark Side"

For years, Gary Patterson has prided himself in fielding one of the nastiest defenses in college football. Consistently ranked in the top 10 on defense, one might think the Horned Frogs are slipping a bit on the defensive side of the ball this season.

TCU enters Saturday’s game ranked 40th in scoring defense at 22.6 points per game allowed and 48th in total defense. But the saving grace for the Frogs has been their ability to force turnovers, ranking first in the country with a turnover margin of +1.88 per game. The Frogs are +15 through eight games, which includes 26 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries.

Paramount to the Frogs’ success on defense has been senior linebacker Paul Dawson (91 tackles, 12 TFL, four sacks, 3 INT and 3 fumble recoveries).

Dawson has played at an elite level that should garner him serious consideration for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. There is no doubt that Dawson will play a critical role in the Frogs’ slowing down the Wildcats’ offense.

But the player who could be the most important for Saturday’s game is Kevin White. The senior cornerback from Round Rock had his best performance of the season in last week’s thrilling 31-30 victory over West Virginia in Morgantown. White held the Big 12’s leading receiver, Kevin White, to 3 catches for 28 yards and zero touchdowns.

White will have to have another good day against Kansas State if the Frogs hope to continue their winning ways. The veteran defender well be matched up with the criminally underrated Tyler Lockett (49 receptions, 682 yards and 5 touchdowns).

If White is able to keep Lockett in check, it will make things much easier for the other 10 Horned Frog defenders to have success. Gary Patterson trusts his senior cornerback to be able to man up with the Big 12’s best receivers on a weekly basis and this weekend may be the biggest matchup of White’s career.