Texas Tech at TCU
October 9, 2018
By Joe Nelson
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This week’s Thursday night game is a prominent Big XII clash as Texas Tech and TCU face off. While both teams are closer to the bowl bubble than the Big XII title game at this point in the season, this will be a key game in the conference pecking order not to mention one of the main rivalry games of the season for both squads.
Match-up: Texas Tech Red Raiders at Texas Christian Horned Frogs
Venue: At Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas
Time/TV: Thursday, October 11, 7:30 PM ET ESPN
Line: TCU -7, Over/Under 62
Last Meeting: 2017, TCU (-7) 27, at Texas Tech 3
This line on this game was released late with questionable quarterback situations for both teams. Since the ‘West Texas Championship’ renewed on an annual basis in 2012 these squad have each won the Saddle Trophy three times with the road team now winning the past three years.
Both TCU and Texas Tech are knotted at 1-1 in league play and while West Virginia and Texas are both 3-0 on top of the standings, those teams will need to face off and both have some difficult hurdles remaining as it is still a wide-open race for a spot in the Big XII title game. The Big XII has Texas back in the national spotlight rising to the top 10 of the polls but the conference as a whole is likely clinging to a long shot 13-0 run for West Virginia in regard to the national playoffs with Oklahoma upset last week.
TCU looked the part of a Big XII contender and possible national sleeper with a 2-0 start and an 8-point lead over Ohio State well into the third quarter in a big mid-September game in Arlington. The Buckeyes scored three touchdowns in four minutes to send TCU’s season spiraling in the other direction. The Frogs lost to the Texas the following week with a combined seven turnovers in those two defeats before getting back on track in late September with a narrow 17-14 victory hosting Iowa State.
A critical sixth season for Kliff Kingsbury coaching his alma mater started poorly with a 24-7 1st quarter deficit against Ole Miss in Houston on the opening Saturday, with starting quarterback McLane Carter injured. Freshman Alan Bowman was handed the offense from there and posted big numbers including leading notable wins over Houston and Oklahoma State. Bowman was seriously injured and hospitalized after taking a hit in the 42-34 loss to West Virginia with the Red Raiders down to sophomore Jett Duffey for the duration of that game. All three quarterbacks may be available for this week’s game.
For TCU sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson has had mixed results with six interceptions in four FBS games but offering big play potential in the air and on the ground. Robinson was injured late in the win over Iowa State with a shoulder issue on his non-throwing arm and while he has been cleared to return, Gary Patterson has hinted that he may not start this week with sophomore Michael Collins likely to play in the game as well. Collins has only thrown 14 passes this season and not in any meaningful moments.
Texas Tech was anticipating being a stronger defensive team this season as after years of being consistently involved in shootouts, the Red Raiders improved dramatically in the defensive numbers last season. This year the positive gains haven’t been there despite an experienced unit led by linebacker and future NFL draft pick Dakota Allen. Texas Tech has allowed nearly 450 yards per game and 31 points per game including allowing 42 or more points in three of four FBS games.
Patterson has a reputation for defense and this year’s team has allowed fewer than 21 points per game, holding three of five foes to 14 or fewer points. Texas and Ohio State combined to score 71 points against the Horned Frogs but a 7-0 turnover deficit in those games contributed significantly. TCU has only surrendered 178 passing yards per game this season and that will be the key matchup against a Red Raiders offense averaging 408 passing yards per game. TCU is 14th nationally allowing only 5.7 yards per pass attempt while Texas Tech has allowed 7.7 yards per pass attempt although opposing quarterbacks have completed below 56 percent of throws against both teams.
With Oklahoma up next this is a critical spot for TCU as a 1-3 Big XII start would be realistic with a loss this week. TCU will still have to play in Morgantown in November as a bowl bid could even be cast into a doubt for a squad that was projected to compete for a Big XII title after being the runner-up last season. The stakes may be higher for Texas Tech who still has Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Texas on the schedule. If the Red Raiders fall to 3-3 overall this week they might be in line for another dramatic run in late November with Kingsbury in danger of missing a bowl game for the third time in six seasons.
Last season: TCU was 8-2 heading to Lubbock last November in the game following a 38-20 loss at Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs turned in a great performance with a 27-3 win on the road. The defense did the heavy lifting as TCU managed only 289 yards of offense and led just 10-3 late in the third quarter. TCU completed only six passes in the game in what was Robinson’s first career start and then added a late defensive score. That loss left Texas Tech at 5-6 but they beat Texas in the season finale to earn a bowl bid. The three-point showing was the lowest output for Texas Tech since losing 12-3 at TCU in 2006.
Texas Tech is 14-8 S/U and 14-10 ATS in this series since 1980, covering in 13 of the past 19 meetings.
TCU has won S/U in three of the past four games but has lost S/U and ATS in two of the past three home games in the series.
TCU has won S/U in eight consecutive home games since the start of last season but is just 3-12 ATS at home since the start of the 2016 season.
TCU is 1-5 S/U and ATS in six instances since 2016 as a home favorite of 10 or fewer points.
Texas Tech is 22-14 ATS on the road since 2011 including going 8-3 ATS as a road underdog since 2015 with five S/U upsets.
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