Game day is here. It’s the No. 8 TCU Horned Frogs (4-0) hosting the No. 23 West Virginia Mountaineers (3-1).
It’s an early-season game that could go a long way in determining if either of these teams play in the Big 12 Championship game on December 2.
Both teams are well-rested and getting healthier coming off bye weeks, and that’s a good place to start when scouting TCU.
Running game gets better
The Horned Frogs are the top running team in the Big 12, averaging over 230 yards on the ground per game.
Darius Anderson paces TCU with 105.5 rushing yards per contest and has a knack for finding the end zone with a team-high six touchdowns.
As good as they’ve been this season, the Frogs do get a key piece back this week.
Kyle Hicks, who last year was one of four running backs in the nation to lead his team in rushing yards and receptions, is expected to return for this game, which adds another element to the TCU offense.
He’s only played in two games due to injuries and is looking to get on track against a shaky WVU rush defense.
Rush defense is impressive
As good as TCU is at running the football, Gary Patterson’s defense is equally as good as stopping the run.
Patterson’s unit is holding opponents to under 100 rushing yards per game, and limited Jackson State just 24 yards on 42 rushing attempts in the season opener last month.
Helping to stop the run, among others, have been Travin Howard and Ben Banogu. Banogu is among the five best in the Big 12 in terms of tackles for loss (6), and Howard leads TCU in total tackles (26) and is among the team leaders in plays stopped in the backfield (3).
As a team, the Horned Frogs have stopped 30 plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Defense as a whole is good
It’s not just the rush defense that’s been good for TCU.
Patterson’s defense ranks second in the conference in total defense. Opposing passers are completing less than half their throws, and the Horned Frogs are second in the conference in interceptions.
They’re also tops in the Big 12 in sacks and have allowed the fewest first downs to opponents.
Will Grier and the Mountaineer offense will have their work cut out for them.
Kenny Hill and T.O.P
Along with the running game, two other elements of the TCU offense have been working well – quarterback Kenny Hill, and time of possession.
Hill is sixth in the nation in completion percentage, and he’s holding his own in a conference with a number of talented quarterbacks with a high quarterback rating.
He’s also been spreading the ball around. Hill has completed at least one pass to 17 different receivers.
With Hill being efficient through the air, and the ground game operating as good as any team in the nation, TCU has excelled in hanging on to the football.
The Horned Frogs are only being outdone by Texas in the Big 12 in time of possession, and are possessing the football for more than 33 minutes per game.