The high-flying TCU Horned Frogs take their 14-game winning streak on the road to Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, this Saturday to take on an Iowa State Cyclone squad still licking it's wounds from an old-fashioned 66-31 smackdown at Texas Tech last weekend.
Things don't look to get much easier for the Cyclones defense, currently checking in at a lowly 101st in the nation, as the Horned Frogs boast the third-ranked offensive unit nationally and average a mind-blowing 51 points per game.
TCU leads the all-time series 5-1, including a 2-0 mark inside Jack Trice Stadium and a 2-1 mark against the Cyclones since joining the Big 12 in 2012.
College Football Podcast: Week 7 Preview
TCU at Iowa State
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: TCU -20.5
Three Things to Watch
1. The QB duel
On paper the comparisons between TCU's Trevone Boykin and the Cyclones' Sam B. Richardson are unmistakable. The pair are among only five active quarterbacks in FBS with a combination of at least 5,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in their careers. And both were named to the preseason Manning Award Watch list. But since then, Richardson's path has gone south while Boykin's has gone considerably north. This doesn't look to be a game in which their fortunes are likely to make much of a change.
2. Mike Warren's offensive impact
Since joining the offensive lineup against Toledo, Iowa State freshman RB Mike Warren has quickly become one of the best rookie ball carriers in FBS. He currently leads all freshman running backs at 114.8 yards per carry, which is good for 23rd nationally overall. More impressive, however, is his 8.1 yards per carry average, which puts him sixth in the nation. With Richardson not at his peak performance levels in recent weeks, look for Warren to once again have a big day against another susceptible rushing defense. TCU is 86th nationally against the run, allowing 183.0 yards rushing per game.
3. The Utah effect
Halfway through the season, coaches start looking more at the polls and standings to get a gauge on what they need to do to be in contention for a shot at a possible conference championship, as well as strengthening their resume in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee. And while the Utah Utes won't be literally on the field against the Cyclones on Saturday, TCU head coach Gary Patterson will undoubtedly be looking to make a strong statement to poll voters and Playoff committee members alike regarding his team's ranking and status among the current top teams, especially considering the Horned Frogs' slim margin over the Utes in the polls. A strong and dominating performance over the Cyclones might be just what is needed for TCU to avoid any further slippage against a surprising Utah team, thereby maintaining its position in the conversation regarding potential Playoff teams.
Last week I chose the Cyclones to put up a serious fight and give the Texas Tech Red Raiders an unexpected surprise on Homecoming in Lubbock. Given Iowa State's dismal performance in that game, as well as its lackluster showings in other losses this season, I won't be making that mistake twice.
The Cyclones switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme earlier this year, largely to counter the offensive output of teams like Texas Tech, TCU and next week's opponent, Baylor. While they're making strides in that direction, they simply don't have the ability to make the leap to competitive defensive play any time soon against upper echelon teams.
Watch for TCU to follow a similar script to Texas Tech in last week's drubbing, and win it going away.
Prediction: TCU 58, Iowa State 30
— Written by Robert A. Boleyn, a member of the Athlon Contributor Network and a native Iowan currently based in Southern California. Boleyn attended both the University of Iowa and UCLA, and is a former contributing writer for The Daily Iowan and a die-hard Hawkeye. Follow him on Twitter @BoleynRobert.