The Red Raiders are about as confusing as the Horned Frogs.
One week, they’re beating West Virginia in impressive fashion, the next, they are getting totally smoked by the Sooners.
Now, they roll into Fort Worth for the latest edition of a very weird rivalry when it seems like the home team always finds a way to lose and the rivalry trophy, the Saddle Trophy, seems to change hands annually. The two teams have traded wins the last four seasons, and each program has won five times since Gary Patterson took the reigns in Funky Town.
All that to say, we have absolutely no idea what will happen Saturday.
The Red Raiders have two quarterbacks, and so, they have none.
Alan Bowman was the guy early, but injuries and ineffectiveness led Matt Wells to turn the QB1 role over to backup Henry Colombi. The junior out of Florida can be at times very good (against WVU) and very bad (5.8 QBR against Oklahoma), and the jury is still out as to whether he is the long term answer in Lubbock.
SaRoderick Thompson has been very good at running back for the Red Raiders, averaging 63 yards per game and 5.6 per carry, with six scores. Erik Ezukanma doesn’t seem to care who is slinging it for Tech, he is second in the conference in yards per game at nearly 72 and is averaging over 13 yards per reception.
This is far from the high-flying West Texas offense of years past, but they still put more than 30 points per game on the scoreboard and average 425 yards per game. The Red Raiders can still put points on the board (they scored 56 at Texas), but other than the anomaly in Austin, they’ve crested the 30 point mark only twice — and once was Houston Baptist.
The offensive line has been great, allowing the fewest sacks in the conference at just seven, but that’s been the lone consistent element on that side of the ball. One of the areas to watch is third downs; the Red Raiders convert at a 45% clip, while TCU is one of the best in the league at stopping teams.
Well, some things never change.
Tech’s defense is at or near the bottom of the conference in several categories, including total defense (allowing nearly 500 yards per game), passing defense, scoring defense (allowing 41.2 per), and pass defense efficiency.
TCU better score against these guys.
Krishon Merriweather has been very good at linebacker for the Red Raiders, averaging more than eight tackles per game. He and Riko Jeffers make a potent 1-2 punch in the middle for Tech’s D. The secondary is at the bottom of the league in interceptions, recording just two so far this season, and they only have seven sacks as a team (even TCU has more than that!).
No one allows more first downs than Tech, and only Kansas is worse defending third downs. The Horned Frogs have been very averaging on third down, so exploiting that weakness is the key to success.
This is a game that TCU should have an advantage in, but it’s so hard to predict how these games go, and the Frogs have been so bad at home, who can actually say?
The key to success will be keeping Colombi in the pocket and applying pressure, forcing him to beat you with his arm — something that worked (for the most part), against Baylor. If the first half Frogs from Saturday show up, this should be an easy one. If the second half version of that team comes to play, it could be another harrowing 60 minutes.
TCU 37, Texas Tech 24.