TCU prediction: Will the No. 7 Horned Frogs take care of business against West Virginia?


No. 7 TCU vs West Virginia

When: 11 a.m. Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown

Records: TCU (7-0 overall, 4-0 Big 12); West Virginia (3-4, 1-3)

Last meeting: West Virginia defeated TCU 29-17 on Oct. 23, 2021, in Fort Worth, Texas

What’s at stake?

The No. 7 TCU Horned Frogs have put themselves in a great position to participate in a high-profile bowl game. A loss to West Virginia, however, would all but eliminate TCU’s hopes of making the College Football Playoff.

The Frogs, even with a loss, are still in a prime position to compete for the Big 12 championship. Head coach Sonny Dykes and the Frogs have created a gap between themselves and the rest of the Big 12.

TCU will remain first whether they win or lose against the Mountaineers, due to tiebreakers over Kansas State and Oklahoma State. That does not mean, however, that this game is acceptable to lose.

With TCU set to play Texas Tech, Texas and Baylor in the coming weeks, the Frogs need to take advantage of the opportunity ahead of them. In the Big 12, teams can fall from grace in the blink of an eye.

Although the Mountaineers haven’t had the best season thus far, Morgantown is still a tough environment to walk out of with a win. West Virginia, currently on a four-game win streak versus the Frogs, has not lost to a TCU team in Morgantown since 2014.

For many TCU seniors, Saturday’s game is last chance to beat West Virginia in their collegiate careers.

When TCU has the ball

Quarterback Max Duggan and TCU’s offense should have a field day against West Virginia if they play to their potential. The Frogs have the firepower to toy with the struggling Mountaineer defense.

For Dykes’ offense, two things are most important: execution and efficiency. If the Frogs can keep doing what they’ve been doing, they’ll see success this Saturday. Keep an eye on star pass catcher Quentin Johnston and the speedy wide receiver Derius Davis to continue to make big plays.

Efficiency hasn’t been a problem thus far for Duggan, who leads the Big 12 in completion percentage (68.9) and passing efficiency rating (181.8). He’s thrown one interception this season, as desperation heave heading into halftime against Kansas.

He should have an easy go of it against the Mountaineers, who have recorded just two interceptions this season. Still, anything can happen in the Big 12, especially in a hostile environment such as Morgantown. Keeping a level head and takings things one play at a time will go a long way for the Horned Frogs.

When West Virginia has the ball

This Saturday, the key to a good performance for the Frog defense will be consistency. TCU has had success playing from behind. If they continue to fall into holes, at some point, the Frog offense will fail to catch up. To do this, TCU defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie will need to set the tone early with some stops in the first quarter.

If the Mountaineer offense starts the game on fire, they may gain momentum and confidence. The Frogs should ensure the contest doesn’t turn into a shootout.

JT Daniels is a capable quarterback with solid weapons but he has weaknesses the Horned Frogs can exploit. The WVU QB has thrown only 1.6 touchdowns per interception. The Frogs, to force turnovers, will need to bring the pressure and keep the Mountaineers on their toes.

Another player to watch out for is Bryce Ford-Wheaton; the Mountaineer wide receiver ranks second in the Big 12 with five touchdown receptions and averages 73.7 yards per game. Cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, or maybe CB Josh Newton, will be tasked with containing Ford-Wheaton.

Prediction

West Virginia, given the slow start to the season, will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. A team with nothing to lose can be dangerous and the Horned Frogs shouldn’t take them lightly.

In reality, the Frogs outmatch the Mountaineers in every way, shape and form. Their offense should continue to thrive and the defense should have a complete performance from start to finish. This is still college football, however, and as we know, anything can happen.

If the Frogs keep the same “let’s just worry about ourselves” mentality, they will focus on executing to the best of their ability. TCU, led by Duggan, will take care of business against the Mountaineers, regardless of the hostile environment in Morgantown.

Score: TCU 42, WVU 24

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