Horned Frogs, Red Raiders look to get back to .500
The TCU Horned Frogs and Texas Tech Red Raiders are set to meet in an important Big 12 game Saturday in Lubbock. Both teams are 4-5 overall with a 2-4 record in conference play, but they've headed in different directions later.
TCU, nearly beat undefeated Baylor last week before falling 29-23 in overtime, but that was still the Horned Frogs' fourth loss of its last five games. Meanwhile, Texas Tech put an end to a poor run of play with a 38-17 victory over West Virginia last week. The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Red Raiders and marked just the second win for the team in its last seven games.
Texas Tech has a 4-3 edge in the series since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012, but the Horned Frogs have won the last two games in Lubbock.
TCU at Texas Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 16, at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: TCU -2.5
When TCU Has the Ball
TCU quarterback Max Duggan, a true freshman, began the season second on the depth chart and shared playing time in the opening weeks, but he quickly emerged as the starter and has taken the first snap in each of the last seven games. Duggan has completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 1,545 yards and 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions. All seven picks occurred in the last three games including six combined across the last two.
A capable runner, Duggan has accounted for 364 rushing yards and four touchdowns, which ranks third on the team. Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua, who have split the workload at running back this season, are the top two rushers on the squad with 698 and 425 yards, respectively. Anderson and Olonilua have each run for six rushing touchdowns.
Duggan’s favorite receiver, Jalen Reagor, has a team-leading 33 receptions and 462 receiving yards. Reagor, arguably the most talented member of the Horned Frogs offense, has caught four touchdown passes, second on the team to tight end Pro Wells. Reagor also is TCU’s primary punt returner, and he scored on a 73-yard return in the victory over Kansas in September. He has added 68 yards on 12 carries to round out his all-purpose arsenal.
TCU has a solid core of offensive skill position players, but the Horned Frogs have struggled to consistently move the football. The Frogs rank seventh in the Big 12 and No. 49 nationally in total offense (426.9 ypg), and ninth in the conference and No. 83 in the country in yards per play (5.5). TCU is also without its best offensive lineman, right tackle Lucas Niang, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Texas Tech also began the season with a different starting quarterback. Alan Bowman threw for 1,020 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions across the first three games of the season, but he has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since. Though Bowman has reportedly been recently cleared to practice and potentially play, he is expected to preserve a redshirt — meaning he would only be able to play in one more game.
Formerly third on the quarterback depth chart behind Bowman and Jackson Tyner, Jett Duffey has started the last five games for the Red Raiders. Duffey has completed 68.7 percent of his pass attempts for 1,774 yards and 10 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He is also averaging 7.8 yards per attempt, which is a significant improvement over the 6.6 yards per attempt Bowman posted.
The top target in the Red Raiders passing attack, which ranks 14th nationally at 310.7 yards per game, is T.J. Vasher. Vasher leads the team with 37 receptions, 473 yards, and six touchdowns but was absent in the win over West Virginia due to a suspension. It’s currently unclear whether Vasher will play against TCU. RJ Turner (31 rec., 362 yds.), Dalton Rigdon (30, 411, 4 TDs) and Erik Ezukanma (28, 369, TD) provide depth to the unit. At running back, SaRodorick Thompson has emerged as the primary ball carrier. Thompson leads the Red Raiders with 576 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 117 carries and has also caught 25 passes for 108 yards.
Though this matchup is not specifically a must-win for either team, the loser will have a difficult task securing bowl eligibility. Of the four combined opponents remaining of the schedules for TCU and Texas Tech, three appeared in the most recent College Football Playoff committee rankings.
Therefore, it’s imperative for both TCU and Texas Tech to secure a victory Saturday. And though the Red Raiders have the all-important home-field advantage, the Horned Frogs have a major edge on the defensive side of the football. TCU leads the Big 12 in total defense (320.7 ypg) and ranks second in the league in yards allowed per play (5.1), which ranks 23rd and 31st nationally, respectively. Texas Tech has allowed 470.3 total yards per contest and has surrendered 6.6 yards per snap, which ranks No. 121 and No. 122, respectively, in the country.
Given the disparity on defense, TCU is capable of slowing down the Red Raiders enough to pick up a pivotal victory on the road.
Prediction: TCU 37, Texas Tech 31