If the past four games have proven anything about TCU’s offense, it’s that anybody who paid too much attention to the 23-point performance in the opening win over Minnesota was making a big mistake. Since the tight win and the attendant frenzy over whether the Horned Frogs would be able to crank it up this season, TCU has scored 70, 56, 55 and 50 points. It is second nationally in total offense, behind fellow Big 12 member Baylor, and has a stable of weapons that few (if any) teams can match.
This could well have been a matchup of unbeatens, had the refereeing crew at last week’s KSU-Oklahoma State game not awarded the Cowboys a phantom first down near the end of the first half that kept a drive alive and helped OSU score a touchdown in its 36-34 win. As usual, the 3-1 Wildcats aren’t flashy or explosive, but they navigated a relatively soft non-conference schedule and head into a five-game stretch that includes matchups with TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech.
College Football Podcast: Week 6 Preview with Tom Dienhart
TCU at Kansas State
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. EDT
Spread: TCU -10
Three Things to Watch
The Horned Frogs can hammer opponents in a variety of ways, beginning with QB Trevone Boykin, who has thrown for 1,802 yards and 19 TDs, while completing 63.3 percent of his throws and tossing just three interceptions. Running back Aaron Green averages 5.8 yards a carry and has scored six times, while explosive wideout Josh Doctson has averaged 17.2 yards on his 42 catches and has scored eight times. If those aren’t enough, consider all-purpose marvel Kavontae Turpin, a true freshman. The 5-9, 152-pound true freshman has scored six times as a receiver, is averaging 12.2 yards per punt return and 28.1 on kicks.
“We have to play better defensively, we have to be able to defend against the pass better and we have to go up and make some plays on deep thrown balls,” KSU coach Bill Snyder said. “They have a wealth of talent coming back.”
2. Pick It Up
The Wildcats haven’t exactly overpowered teams with their offense, although they did put up 34 points last week. KSU is averaging just 3.9 yards per rush, although Justin Silmon is gaining 5.1 a carry. QB Joe Hubener has been solid but must improve his 51.3 percent completion rate. If KSU is going to hang with TCU’s high-powered attack, it must score early and often.
“I think it goes without saying — it is vital for us to not only score early but throughout the course of the ball game,” Snyder said. “I think early is important. If you fall behind with a team like that, it is pretty difficult to get back on the table, and that is what happens to a lot of teams — they fall behind by not scoring early.”
3. Pressure Points
The Horned Frogs want to move quickly and hit with big plays, but Kansas State can slow down TCU if it continues to put solid pressure on the QB. Jordan Willis (3.5 sacks) and Marquel Bryant (3) have been successful rushing the passer this season and need to be disciplined in their approach to Boykin if KSU is to keep the Frogs in check.
Kansas State has been successful this year, but it hasn’t faced anything like the Frogs, who have their offense running at full capacity. If the Wildcats think they can outscore their visitors, they are sadly mistaken. This must be a strong defensive week for Kansas State, because its offense just can’t keep up.
TCU comes to Manhattan with great confidence and an offense that has been operating at top capacity for the last month. The Frogs don’t care if they give up 30 or 40, because they are going to score 50 or 60. With weapons like Boykin, Green and Doctson, they put inordinate pressure on rivals and create a haphazard game that plays to their strengths.
Prediction: TCU 47, Kansas State 24.
— Written by Michael Bradley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bradley is a writer and broadcaster based in suburban Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DailyHombre.