On the same day that the Red River Showdown is taking place in Dallas, who would have thought the Big 12's biggest game of the day would be the one in Lawrence, Kansas?
The no-longer-lowly Kansas Jayhawks (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) are hosting the red-hot TCU Horned Frogs (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday in a surprising matchup of undefeated teams. Even ESPN "College GameDay" is getting in on the act, setting up shop for its popular Saturday morning broadcast on the KU campus.
One of these teams is heading home with its first loss of the year. Here's what to expect.
No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Kansas
When TCU Has the Ball
Despite losing a preseason quarterback competition to Chandler Morris, quarterback Max Duggan is now thriving behind center for the Horned Frogs. He leads the nation in passer rating thanks in large part to a pristine 11:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He is coming off a sparkling performance against Oklahoma in which he completed 23 of 33 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns. TCU's field general also had a 67-yard touchdown run versus the Sooners.
Kansas beat the Iowa State Cyclones last week on the back of its defense, which gave up just 11 points. Defensive end Lonnie Phelps has emerged this year as one of the Jayhawks' standouts after notching seven tackles for a loss in five games. Keeping him away from Duggan will be a top priority for the TCU offensive line.
When Kansas Has the Ball
Dual-threat QB Jalon Daniels is achieving national notoriety for his role in reviving the KU program. The junior is averaging 9.2 yards per pass attempt and 7.2 yards per carry. The combination of Daniels and sophomore running backs Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. gives Kansas a potent rushing attack.
New TCU defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie has his unit playing with an edge reminiscent of some of the Horned Frogs' best defenses of the past. Top players include veteran cornerback Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, one of the top cover men in the nation. He teams with linebackers Johnny Hodges and Dee Winters to provide TCU's defensive core.
Kansas is a great story, but narrow escapes in the last two weeks versus Iowa State and Duke suggest a loss looms on the horizon for the Jayhawks. Perhaps they can catch the Horned Frogs in a letdown situation this week after their blitzing of Oklahoma last week?
That seems like a best-case scenario for KU because Sonny Dykes' team is coming into this contest playing some of the best offense in college football through the season's first month. Even if the Jayhawks can pester Duggan often enough to affect his throwing ability, they still have to contend with TCU's slashing ground attack. The Horned Frogs are generating seven yards per rushing attempt to round out their O.
A fired-up crowd at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium may help the Jayhawks weather the TCU storm for a half. But they will likely succumb in the end to the Horned Frogs' abundance of offense.
Prediction: TCU 38, Kansas 27
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— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.
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