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Matchups to Watch: Kansas State vs. TCU

Whether it’s Skylar Thompson or Will Howard, Horned Frog pass rushers need to start generating some pressure on the QB, something that hasn’t happened much so far.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

After a thrilling victory in Austin this past weekend, TCU will return home and attempt to secure its first home win of the season against the Kansas State Wildcats. Both teams are vying to enter the AP Top 25, with Kansas State receiving 142 votes and TCU earning 97 votes in the most recent poll.

The Horned Frogs are 2-1 over their last three encounters with Kansas State, and all three have been low-scoring affairs. That could be the case this weekend, as the Wildcats may need to suit up without starting quarterback Skylar Thompson, who injured his arm during last week’s win against Texas Tech.

Freshman Will Howard filled in admirably, however, and running back Deuce Vaughn carried the offense on his back, churning for 116 yards and a touchdown on the ground while adding 81 receiving yards and a score through the air. Thompson did all the work against TCU in 2019, compiling 240 of the team’s 266 total yards, so if the senior is unable to play, it will be a significant loss for Kansas State this weekend.

Here are three matchups to watch when the Wildcats and Horned Frogs battle at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday.

Ochaun Mathis vs. Christian Duffie

Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman hasn’t indicated which quarterback will start, and he even said earlier this week that Thompson had a chance to play this weekend. Regardless of who lines up under center, however, TCU will need to start generating a pass rush, something that hasn’t happened through two games. The Horned Frogs have only two sacks, and none of those are from highly-touted defensive end Ochaun Mathis, who took a step in the right direction last week with five total tackles but has yet to notch a sack in 2020. He’ll line up against sophomore right tackle Christian Duffie, who has limited experience after playing in only three games during the 2019 season.

Quentin Johnston vs. Ekow Boye-Doe

The freshman wide receiver has quickly emerged as TCU’s big-play threat down the field, averaging 24 yards per catch with one touchdown on the season already. Johnston’s combinating of 6-foot-4 size and speed make him dangerous in the passing game, and he’ll have an opportunity to win 1-on-1 matchups on Saturday. One player he may see is Kansas State corner Ekow Boye-Doe, who had four tackles against Texas Tech. Johnston has 4 inches on Boye-Doe, making him a potential target for isolation routes on Saturday.

La’Kendrick Van Zandt vs. Briley Moore

TCU has done well to hold one talented Big 12 tight end in check, limiting Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar to 27 yards on five catches. The Horned Frogs will have another one to survey this weekend in Briley Moore, who has totaled 12 receptions for 163 yards and two scores over his first three weeks. La’Kendrick Van Zandt is off to a strong start this fall, and his first-half interception of Sam Ehlinger was a pivotal defensive play in the Texas victory. TCU will need Van Zandt to play solid football again this weekend, and holding down Moore will allow the Horned Frog defensive front to focus its attention on containing Vaughn.