Horned Frogs, Wildcats look to get back on track
The TCU Horned Frogs and Kansas State Wildcats come into Saturday's matchup with identical 3-2 records. Each team has suffered some tough losses in their last games, and both teams have had a bye week to lick their wounds and right the ship.
On Saturday, the two programs will meet up in Manhattan for a game that really just amounts to jockeying for position in the Big 12. Neither team is likely to make it to the Big 12 Championship Game — though you could argue that TCU (1-1 in conference) still has an outside shot. For now, the two teams are playing for bowl eligibility and prestige.
TCU at Kansas State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: TCU -3.5
When TCU Has the Ball
The Horned Frogs are fairly balanced on offense, although everything starts with the rushing attack. Darius Anderson is the workhorse, and when he's rolling, so is TCU's offense. The Horned Frogs average 41 points a game when Anderson rushes for more than 100 yards and 31 points per game when he does not.
Suffice to say, head coach Gary Patterson wants to get the ball in Anderson's hands as often as he can, which also takes pressure off of his young quarterback, Max Duggan. The freshman signal-caller has been extremely efficient so far in 2019, tossing nine touchdown passes and no interceptions. That said, Anderson's consistency is part of what makes that possible.
When Kansas State Has the Ball
The Wildcats are more run-dependent that TCU is balance-wise, the Wildcats just haven't been as effective with their ground game. As a result, quarterback Skylar Thompson needs to figure out a way to push the ball downfield efficiently enough for TCU to back out of the box and give his running backs some room to work. He was able to do that early on in the season but has sputtered as of late. He's completing just 43 percent of his passes for an average of 153 yards with two touchdowns and an interception over his last three games. Perhaps the bye week was what Thompson and the Kansas State offense needed to figure things out. If the Wildcats can't find that balance and efficiency, they'll have a tough time scoring points — just as they have in their last two outings (25 combined in losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor).
Kansas State has run into a couple of solid teams over the last two weeks, both with some elite superstars on the offensive side of the ball. This allowed Baylor and Oklahoma State to put pressure on the Wildcats to keep up, thus taking them out of their comfort zone.
I don't believe TCU has the athletes to get that done on Saturday. The Wildcats are slightly more battle-tested and will be motivated at home to get back on the winning track. Look for Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman to figure out a way to pressure TCU's young quarterback into finally making some mistakes with the football. A turnover or two will be the difference in this one.
Prediction: Kansas State 27, TCU 24
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.