These two teams mirror each other in a lot of ways, but the Frogs have the edge in experience and athleticism. Will that be enough to overcome a red-hot Cyclones team on Homecoming?
Iowa State and TCU are tied for first place in scoring defense in the Big 12. Both teams are allowing exactly 15.2 points per game. The two teams have allowed a combined 19 points the past two weeks (yes, they each had the luxury of playing, and shutting out, Kansas, but still).
TCU leads the Big 12 in rushing defense, while Iowa State is third in that category. And against the pass? They are 1-2, with the Cyclones having the edge there. Scoring opportunities could be at a premium in this one, which is something we rarely say about Big 12 matchups. Add to this the weather factor, as the forecast for Ames on Saturday afternoon includes snow, sleet and/or rain.
The weather could be a factor tomorrow, but that shouldn’t faze the Frogs.
Since 2009, TCU has played five games when the temperature at kickoff was close to freezing — and won four of them.
The coldest victory was a 19-degree day at Air Force in October 2009, when the Frogs held out for a 20-17 win to remain unbeaten on the way to a BCS bowl.
Twice the Frogs have won when the game started in 31-degree weather, at Wyoming in 2009 and Kansas in 2014.
In 2015, the Frogs kicked off on a 36-degree night at Oklahoma and barely lost when a two-point conversion pass failed in the final minute.
The next week, it was 38 and raining when TCU kicked off at home against Baylor and finally sloshed to a bone-chilled 28-21 victory in double overtime.
Allen Lazard is one of the best receivers in the country, and he’s looking forward to the challenge of facing one of the top defenses this weekend.
“Their coaches will have a great scheme for our offense,” said senior wide receiver Allen Lazard. “It will be one heck of a game.”
The TCU defense has a tough task ahead with the Cyclones’ offense, but the Horned Frogs rank No. 11 in total defense per game and allow just 291.3 yards per game. That's well below the 400.4 yards the Cyclones’ offense averages.
“They do an awesome job, they’re really fast, they’re quick, they move and I think they’re as well coached as any defense you’re going to see,” said offensive coordinator Tom Manning. “They know that they’re really quick and they also know that in some positions they’re not the biggest and they do a great job of rolling coverage’s at times."
Lazard also recognized the Horned Frogs' defensive speed and noted that they will need to get the ball to the perimeter and get good blocking, then that will be to their advantage.
If you don’t think this group is chasing ghosts as far as the Frogs’ defensive legacy, you’re wrong.
The type of defensive season the fourth-ranked Frogs are putting together as they head to No. 25 Iowa State on Saturday is rare, even for a program that has built its reputation on that side of the ball under coach Gary Patterson.
“Oh, we’re well aware of it,” cornerback Ranthony Texada said. “That’s why a lot of us came here, to be honest, to play for Coach P, a defensive-minded guy. That’s why I came here.”
TCU was ranked first in the Big 12 in rushing defense and scoring defense even before the last two games.
Now the Frogs also rank first in the Big 12 in pass defense (after being seventh two weeks ago), red zone defense (after being sixth two weeks ago) and first-down defense (after being second two weeks ago).
Nationally, the Frogs went from 16th to third in rushing defense (104.0 yards per game to 80.7), 31st to ninth in scoring defense (19.6 to 14.9) and 42nd to 10th in third-down defense (33.8 percent to 27.9).