West Virginia goes as Jarret Doege goes, and that can be a dangerous horse to be hitched too. Doege can be very good and very bad, sometimes in the same game. WVU will need him to be at his best to outscore the Horned Frogs in what is expected to be a defensive duel — as the Eers can do some damage when TCU has the ball, too.
As previously mentioned, Doege is a bit of an enigma; he’s third in the league in total offense, accumulating 277 yards per game, and throws for 286, just behind Spencer Rattler. He has 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and the Eers score 30 points per game, but it’s still hard to think of their offense as being especially efficient and effective.
In their conference wins (vs Baylor, vs Kansas, and vs Kansas State) they average 34 points per game, in their losses (at Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech, and at Texas), they manage just 17.5. They clearly struggle on the road and against good defenses — but will face the Frogs at home, a defense that is has looked very good against two pretty bad teams over the last two weeks. He always puts up big numbers, but those don’t always lead to wins.
When the Mountaineers play their best, the run game tends to follow: Leddie Brown is averaging 5.3 yards per carry, but if you take away his huge numbers against Kansas, he’s at barely three yards a carry and has crested the century mark just once this season. WVU doesn’t run the ball particularly well individually, but put a respectable 153 yards per game in the stat sheet.
At receiver, Winston Wright is a legitimate star, second in the league at five receptions per game, and adding 64 yards to his total weekly. His two receiving touchdowns are second on the team to Bryce Ford-Wheaton, who has three and hauls in over 50 yards per game himself. As banged up as the TCU secondary is, both present big threats to TCU’s hopes of winning on the road.
This is where the Eers really shine, allowing just 19 points per game (second best in the conference) and holding opponents to just 161 yards through the air — which is the lowest mark in the Big 12. Of course, this plays right into TCU’s hands ;).
Linebacker Tony Fields in one of the best defenders in the country and averages over nine tackles per game, and he partners with Josh Chandler-Semedo to form a dangerous middle level that is very hard to run against. The secondary is strong as well — per usual — with experience in Alonzo Addae and rising talent in Tykee Smith. Junior Dreshun Miller is always around the ball as well, as defends over a pass per game for the Eers.
The defensive line is a problem as well — Darius Stills is still very good and has 3.5 of the teams 21 total sacks — second most in the league. The Eers have nine interceptions and 54 tackles per loss as well, and tend to swarm the ball with reckless abandon.
Neal Brown’s team plays hard, plays smart, and when their clicking, are capable of beating any team in the league. Especially at home.
If this game were in Fort Worth, it would be easy to be confident — TCU is probably the more talented team top to bottom, but have lost in that position before, and has lost to this type of WVU team plenty. Weather shouldn’t be a factor, for a nice change in this matchup, but motivation will. The Frogs have played two pretty good games the last two weeks on defense, and are looking to put together their first three game win streak in a long time. The Mountaineers are building a program, and stopping a somewhat impotent TCU offense will be a challenge they are ready to meet.
Expect an ugly one, but I expect Max Duggan’s legs to be the difference — even if he doesn’t run wild like he did against Tech, having to account for what he can do could (finally) open up the passing game.
Prediction: TCU 23, WVU 17