The West Virginia Mountaineers and TCU Horned Frogs can probably forget any hope of playing for the Big 12 title this season. Instead, bowl eligibility could be on the line when they play this weekend in Fort Worth.
The Oklahoma Sooners whipped the Horned Frogs (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) last week. The Mountaineers (2-4, 0-3), on the other hand, were enjoying a bye week. We'll find out this weekend if the layoff helped WVU.
Here's what to watch when the desperate teams meet this weekend at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
West Virginia at TCU
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: TCU -4.5
When West Virginia Has the Ball
For his own sake, let's hope head coach Neal Brown spent the off week looking for a way to enhance his team's offense. The Mountaineers are averaging 28.3 points per contest through six games, one of which included a 66-0 drubbing of Long Island, a program that's still relatively new to the FCS level, in early September. That simply won't cut it in the Big 12.
It might help the Mountaineers put more points on the board if they had a firmer grip on their offensive identity. Brown continues to rotate between senior thrower Jarret Doege and youngster Garrett Greene at quarterback, the latter of whom has shown himself to be a dangerous runner when given the chance. The rotation seems to make it difficult for the offense to find its groove.
If the Eers do settle on one QB, he will find a porous TCU defense awaiting him on Saturday. The Horned Frogs are giving up 32 points per game this year, including 52 to Oklahoma last Saturday night. That provides an opportunity for WVU to find an offensive spark.
When TCU Has the Ball
TCU has charged up its offense this season behind the trio of quarterback Max Duggan, running back Zach Evans, and wide receiver Quentin Johnston. Evans sat out the Oklahoma game last week, suggesting his status for a matchup with WVU is at least questionable.
Duggan and Johnston lit up the Sooners with Evans on the sidelines. Duggan completed 20 of his 30 pass attempts versus OU for 346 yards and four touchdowns. Johnston caught seven of those completions, generating 185 yards and three TDs.
Success for the WVU defense will hinge on the Mountaineers' talented defensive line owning the line of scrimmage. Don't be surprised if TCU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham calls for more max protection blocking schemes to neutralize the WVU pass rush and give his receivers time to get open downfield.
What did West Virginia do to get its offense in gear during the off week?
That seems like the operative question when it comes to this game. While the Horned Frogs were trading uppercuts with Oklahoma last weekend, the Mountaineers had a chance to reset after getting blown out by Baylor.
If Brown used the open date to come up with a more productive plan for the QB position, WVU will have a chance to put together consistent drives that end in points. Look for a raucous crowd in Morgantown to help propel the Mountaineers to an upset victory.
Prediction: West Virginia 26, TCU 24
Podcast: Previewing Week 8 + CFB Expansion + Washington State Coaching Search
— 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.