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He Said, She Said: TCU's Road... woes?

TCU is an absolute juggernaut on their home turf these days, destroying all comers to Hell's Half Acre. But outside observers, and some fans, feel the narrative is markedly different outside of the friendly confines of Fort Worth. Have the Frogs truly struggled on the road, or are they a victim of their own success?

TCU has been good the last two seasons, in fact, they have been very good more often than not. After taking nothing but L’s at Amon G in their first season of Big 12 play, TCU has not lost in Hell’s Half Acre for the past two years. But as they have become a wrecking ball on their home field, things have been less than stellar away from the friendly confines of Fort Worth. Has TCU truly struggled on the road in conference play, or is that more of a testament to some of the most difficult home stadiums in the country? Should we be worried about the Frog’s performance on the road… or be amazed by the incredible "clutch" of Boykin and his boys?

Jamie: I think the most important place to start is with the most important stat: TCU is 8-1 on the road or at a neutral site since the start of the 2014 season. Those eight wins have come by an average margin of victory of 19.25 points. Now, there’s the 56-0 shelling of SMU in there, along with a 48-10 win over Texas, and of course, the Peach Bowl. However, the other five games (West Virginia, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas Tech, and Kansas State), have been won by a TOTAL of 21 points. The largest margin of victory in those five games was the seven point win in Manhattan this past weekend.

Also noteworthy: TCU has outscored those eight opponents 97-47 in the fourth quarter, revealing that TCU had some coming-back to do in a few of those match ups. So yes, there’s a clutch factor there when Boykin and Co. have their backs against the wall, but what happens when they don’t get the ball back that last time? With a defense as suspect as the 2015 version, it can’t all be on Boykin.

I think the easiest thing to say for a few of these games is that "it’s difficult to win in Lubbock/Manhattan/Minnesota." But that’s really not entirely true. Those three teams are a combined 35-16 at home since the start of the 2013 season. Breaking that down even further, Tech, Kansas State, and Minnesota are a combined 10-1 against FCS schools, 22-6 against non-ranked FBS foes, and 2-10 against ranked FBS opponents at home over that time span.

So really, TCU has just plain struggled on the road against teams they should really dispatch of with a little more ease than they have. It hasn’t bitten them yet in 2015, but with road games against Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma on the horizon, it’s time to get things straightened out before it’s too late.

Melissa: In the past, especially last year, it was popular to say that the TCU offense struggled on the road, and that's why the games were a little closer. But if you look at the box scores, that's not entirely true. The Frogs had their lowest output of the season - 31 points - at West Virginia last year, but that was also against a defense that allowed an average of only 23 points in their home stadium. The Kansas game was a near disaster, but I view it more as an aberration than a rule - and there was some inclement weather that contributed to the struggles. In their only loss, the Frogs still managed… well I think we all know the score of that game by now… and so far in 2015, TCU has 55 and 52 points in wins at Lubbock and at Manhattan. After the miracle comeback last Saturday, we heard a lot from Patterson about how his team hadn't taken the game seriously enough, how they had been laughing through practice despite his warnings that they would be walking into a minefield against a well-prepared team that knew how to execute their relatively unusual offense. Last year, the Kansas game was the last in an eight game stretch without a bye week; a let up against the worst team in the conference is understandable, if not excusable. Ultimately, TCU has just been so good on offense the last year and a half, and built such a reputation of defense, that an average game isn't good enough for those outside of the program anymore.

This game at Iowa State might answer the question a little more definitively for us; the Cyclones aren't... well, good... but they have a couple of good players. If the Frogs struggle to contain Mike Warren, if they let Sam B Richardson make plays, if they can't force turnovers, then I think it's fair to say they aren't the same team on the road as they are at home. I can argue that it's hard to win on the road at Lubbock, that Manhattan is as tough a place to play in conference under the lights as any, but it's much more difficult to justify struggles at Kansas and Iowa State, the cellar dwellers of the conference. Frankly, TCU needs to win, and win big, tonight to justify their place near the top of the college football world in 2015.