Texas Tech & TCU have both fallen well short of preseason expectations; the Red Raiders were tabbed as a darkhorse Playoff candidate and a major contender in the Big 12, while the Horned Frogs were ranked #17 in the preseason AP Poll after a run to the National Championship Game. Which fanbase feels worse about how the 2023 season has played out? And to be positive: which can feel better about the future?
- Anthony: I think the answer to both is Texas Tech. Red Raider fans have to still be very excited about the future under Joey McGuire given the continued recruiting success, if they can hold on to five-star WR Micah Hudson’s commitment through signing day, TTU will almost certainly lead the Big 12 recruiting rankings. That said, 2023 was supposed to the year for the Red Raiders, receiving massive preseason hype and hoping to taste the success the Frogs had last season. TCU’s had that experience, Tech has never even made a CFP Top 25 ranking, so failing again this season when the expectation was so high, it has to hurt.
- Austin: I feel like Texas Tech feels worse about the season. As a TCU fan, I didn’t have high expectations last year and was blown away. I did feel like a top 25 ranking may have been too high, due to losing Garrett Riley and a whole lot of talent on offense. This season, I expected a better record to this point, but figured a few losses would come here and there. As for Texas Tech fans, a losing record to this point has got to feel like a gut punch. But, I do feel like Texas Tech is better set up for the immediate future. There’s been some bright spots on the Red Raiders and their recruiting has been sensational.
- Drew: I think Texas Tech fans probably feel worse than Frog fans. 2023 was tabbed as the year for the Red Raiders and they have fallen well short. I think most TCU fans realized that the Frogs were going to take a step back in 2023, though I doubt many expected this big of a step back. Frog fans have seen that Sonny Dykes can make it happen given the roster, Red Raider fans have still yet to see their team be ranked in the top 25 in any CFP Committee rankings.
- Miles: Texas Tech currently has the top recruiting class in the Big 12. Unfortunately, TCU hasn’t been able to turn the national championship run into more success on the recruiting trail. I give a slight edge to the Red Raiders at the moment.
- Russ: I think TCU fans have to feel worse about the 2023 campaign due to how high expectations became after the National Championship run last season. From a title game to fighting for bowl eligibility is not what many expected this fall. I think both programs should be optimistic for the future, but I’ll give an edge to the Horned Frogs due to TCU’s ability to find impact players in the portal.
Texas Tech’s Tahj Brooks & TCU’s Emani Bailey rank 3rd & 4th respectively in the Big 12 rushing yardage rankings, each averaging over 100 yards per game. Which is most likely to reach the century mark on Thursday?
- Anthony: Brooks is the most likely, he’ll get an absurd workload and unless the TCU defense makes a big leap forward from allowing 343 yards rushing last week, have to think Brooks finds plenty of room to work on Thursday.
- Austin: I have to side with Brooks here. The Red Raiders want to play a run-oriented game. And as we’ve seen with Horned Frogs, even with Hoover behind center the passing game may be prioritized.
- Drew: I’ll take Tahj Brooks for a couple of reasons. TCU’s run defense has been exposed recently as not being able to hold up against double teams and I think Tech works to expose that on Thursday. Bailey has also not seen near as many touches since Hoover took over at quarterback. That said I think they both have a very good shot at getting 100.
- Miles: Both teams give up over 145 yards per game on the ground. They both hit 100 on Thursday.
- Russ: Tahj Brooks seems more likely given how insane his workload has been in recent weeks. With Texas Tech dealing with multiple quarterback injuries, Brooks has been seeing 30 to 35 touches a game, which far surpasses what Bailey has seen in recent weeks. I also don’t believe that Kendal Briles fully believes in the run game.
Does TCU make a Bowl Game?
- Anthony: This is a purple-glasses take, but I still think the Frogs win one of the games it “shouldn’t,” stealing one from the Longhorns or Sooners, and one of the games it “should,” taking down one of Baylor or Texas Tech. All logic points to a 1-3 finish being the most likely outcome, but I still believe TCU has too much talent to fully fall off the cliff - if the team wants to, it’ll be bowling.
- Austin: I also forecast a 6-6 finish. If this game isn’t won, I could foresee a Texas or Oklahoma win. The Longhorns have been vulnerable to TCU in the past and the Sooners appear to be vulnerable to inferior opponents in recent weeks. Let’s go bowling!
- Drew: I think the Frogs find a way to limp to 6-6. Baylor at home feels very winnable and Tech has not been very good this year although playing in a weeknight game in Lubbock scares me a lot. The possibility of Quinn Ewers not playing in the Texas game makes it a bit more possible that TCU pulls off the upset although it is still far from likely.
- Miles: The Texas Tech game is a must-win if TCU wants to go bowling. 6-6 is the best record I see for the Frogs finishing this season.
- Russ: Maybe I’m being painfully optimistic, but I still believe this team finds a way to 6-6. Texas Tech is struggling at the quarterback position and Baylor has had a very mixed bag of results this season. Texas and Oklahoma are not invincible either, but we’ll see how eager the Horned Frogs are to come out and salvage their season over these last four games.
Offensive MVP vs. Texas Tech
- Anthony: It has to be Josh Hoover. Tech has been solid against the pass all season, even in its losses, but this has to be a game where Hoover manages the game at minimum: no turnovers, pick up first downs, avoid sacks (to the extent that is in his control).
- Austin: Bounce back game from Josh Hoover. He played excelled in his first start, then laid an egg against Kansas State. Hoover has got to play well and relatively mistake free so TCU has a shot Thursday night.
- Drew: I’ll take Josh Hoover given that the Frogs can string together some pass protection to give him time. This game feels like it will be an offensive explosion from the Frogs or another dud that looks similar to the K-State game. I’m banking on a big game from Hoover.
- Miles: The offensive line. Protecting Josh Hoover in the pass game and opening up enough in the run game is the only way TCU gets a win in Lubbock.
- Russ: Emani Bailey. I mentioned on our last episode of the Frogs Up Podcast that Bailey has to be the featured player for the Horned Frogs moving forward. TCU’s refusal to run the ball, particularly in the red zone, is a reason why the team has struggled to finish with points.
Defensive MVP vs. Texas Tech
- Anthony: Johnny Hodges. Is he back; will he be 100% The answer for this TCU defense needs to be yes. His on-field leadership and nose for the ball carrier has been sorely missed, so a return from injury would be a big boost. If he’s still out, Namdi Obiazor will have to continue to fill the void as the team leader in sacks and tackles.
- Austin: Damonic Williams. The Red Raiders will look to get their ground game going. And the Horned Frogs must be ready to stop Brooks and Co. It starts in the trenches with Williams.
- Drew: Namdi Obiazor has been TCU’s best linebacker these past few games and arguably the whole year. I think he gets an interception and is solid in run defense.
- Miles: Josh Newton. Texas Tech wide receiver Jerand Bradley has been incredibly quiet this season after a solid RS Freshman campaign. The 6-5 receiver is due for a big game, so Newton needs to keep him in check.
- Russ: Shad Banks. I think he bounces back from a brutal performance against Kansas State and makes a huge impact for the Horned Frog defense in the run game.
- Anthony: TCU wins 31-24. Everything points to TCU losing this game: the weeknight road atmosphere, the horrendous performance the last time out, TTU getting Behren Morton back, etc. But Frogs find a way in Lubbock.
- Austin: TCU wins 35-32.
- Drew: TCU wins 38-35 although I do not feel very confident in that pick.
- Miles: I’m gonna be the bad guy this week... Home-field advantage on a Thursday night gives the Raiders a 31-28 victory.
- Russ: TCU wins 34-17.