FACTS & STATS: Site: Carter Stadium (45,000) -- Fort Worth, Texas. Television: FSN, MSG, ROOT-PIT. Home Record: Kansas 2-1, TCU 2-0. Away Record: Kansas 0-1, TCU 0-2. Neutral Record: Kansas 0-0, TCU 0-0. Conference Record: Kansas 0-1, TCU 0-2. Series Record: TCU leads, 17-8-4.
GAME NOTES: Both the Kansas Jayhawks and the TCU Horned Frogs will chase their first Big 12 Conference victory of the season on Saturday afternoon when the two squads meet up at Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
Kansas was the Big 12's worst team in 2012, going winless in the league and losing 11 straight overall to end the season, so its 2-2 start to this campaign has been a great turnaround in Charlie Weis's second year as head coach. After defeating Louisiana Tech on Sept. 14 (13-10), the Jayhawks opened up league action on Oct. 5 at home, but fell on the wrong end of a 54-16 final against Texas Tech.
TCU began the season with high expectations, finding itself ranked No. 20 in the preseason AP poll, but it promptly fell from the ranks shortly after an opening night loss to LSU (37-27), and it has continued to slide on its way to a 2-3 record. The Horned Frogs have dropped both of their Big 12 battles thus far, losing road matchups at Texas Tech (20-10) and Oklahoma (20-17). They are 26-8 in regular season games following a loss under head coach Gary Patterson -- including 2-0 this season -- and they have not lost at home this year.
With regard to all-time series, TCU holds a 17-8-4 advantage over the Jayhawks, which includes a 20-6 triumph on Sept. 15, 2012.
The Jayhawks have yet to take flight offensively, as they rank ninth in the Big 12 in yardage with just 332.3 per outing and last in scoring at a meager 18.5 ppg.
The lackluster play of quarterback Jake Heaps is largely to blame for the sluggish offensive output thus far. Heaps is completing less than 54 percent of his passes for 735 yards and has tossed more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four).
Tony Pierson has been Heaps' top pass-catching option with 21 receptions for 327 yards, but the sure-handed tailback is out indefinitely with a concussion. In his absence, Jimmay Mundine (nine receptions, 109 yards, two TDs) will need to step up his production.
James Sims is a much more traditional running back for Kansas and has been one of the few bright spots for the offense, amassing 309 yards rushing while plunging into the end zone twice.
While the offense has lagged behind, the defense has played better than expected, as the unit holds its opponents to just 25.3 ppg, although it is fresh off a 54-point yield to Texas Tech.
Ben Heeney is the defensive catalyst with 44 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks and two interceptions. Isaiah Johnson has added 31 tackles and a pick, while Victor Simmons has 27 stops and 3.0 TFL.
TCU's offense has put up more points than Kansas this season (28.0 ppg), but it has still not lived up to its lofty expectations, as it is the only team in the Big 12 to average fewer yards than the Jayhawks (321.4 ypg).
Of course, the wrist injury that sidelined starting quarterback Casey Pachall has not helped matters, although Pachall had failed to record a touchdown prior to his Sept. 8 setback. Trevone Boykin has taken over under center, completing 61.1 percent of his passes for 791 yards with four touchdowns and two picks, to go with 176 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.
The running game is the clear strength of the offense, with B.J. Catalon (222 yards) and Waymon James (199 yards) each averaging nearly five yards per carry. The duo has also combined to score seven rushing touchdowns.
Brandon Carter leads a modest receiving corps with 13 receptions for 156 yards, but he has yet to score. Cam White (132 yards) also has 13 catches.
Luckily for the Horned Frogs, they have a stellar defense to help make up for their offensive shortcomings. The unit has held opposing teams to 22.2 ppg and 354.0 ypg, and has forced 12 turnovers through five games.
Devonte Fields, who recorded 18.5 TFL and 10.0 sacks as a freshman in 2012, will miss the remainder of the season due to a foot injury that will require surgery. Fields was the Big 12 defensive player of the year last season, but was injured during the Texas Tech game on Sept. 12. Chris Hackett has helped pick up the slack with 35 tackles, 3.0 TFL, three interceptions, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble. Sam Carter also has three picks, while Terrell Lathan and Jon Lewis have three sacks apiece.
Each of these two-win teams has a different outlook on the early part of the season, with Kansas feeling good about the direction it is heading and TCU disappointed by a slow start. TCU is clearly the more desperate squad in this one. and while the Jayhawks appear improved, they showed against Texas Tech that they are still a ways off from competing in the Big 12 on a consistent basis, meaning the Horned Frogs will be able to get right and move to .500 in front of their home fans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: TCU 27, Kansas 17
Saturday, October 12, 12 p.m. (et)