Welcome back to another edition of Three Reasons Why as TCU jumps back into Big 12 play against a West Virginia team playing with confidence.
The Horned Frogs (3-1, 1-0) and Mountaineers (3-1, 1-0) have each won three games in a row since losses in Week 1 and are now trying to keep pace with the top teams in the Big 12.
The victor will emerge 2-0 in the conference and be one step closer to reaching Arlington for the conference title game. The loser technically wouldn’t be eliminated, but a loss would be significant.
Here are three reasons why TCU’s will keep its winning streak going or have it snapped by West Virginia:
Three reasons why TCU will extend its winning streak
1. Better quarterback play: Anytime you have the better quarterback, you have a shot at winning any ball game you’re in. In this matchup it’s not particularly close between Chandler Morris and whoever gets the nod for West Virginia. Morris leads the Big 12 in total yards per game while Garrett Greene isn’t even completing 60% of his passes and is banged up.
If he can’t go it’ll be Nicco Marchiol’s turn and he hasn’t thrown for over 100 yards in three straight games. Whoever gets the start won’t be as good as Morris and that gives TCU a major edge.
2. Confident defense: In the last three games the Horned Frogs have only allowed two offensive touchdowns and one of those came in garbage time against SMU. The Mountaineers’ offense has struggled against Power Five competition and has failed to score 20 points in either game. The Horned Frogs should aim to keep that streak going and if they do it’s hard to see West Virginia prevailing.
3. Offensive scheme: While West Virginia has played well, the Mountaineers haven’t played an offense like TCU’s. The Horned Frogs are top five in pace and top-15 in total yards per game while averaging close to 40 points per game. Against Texas Tech and Penn State, the Mountaineers were unable to slow the ground game of either team and Penn State carved up West Virginia’s secondary for over 300 yards.
West Virginia won’t make it easy, but TCU has to feel confident it’ll be able to score enough points.
Three reasons why West Virginia will snap TCU’s winning streak
1. Stingy defense: The Mountaineers’ best shot in this one is relying on its defense once again. West Virginia has held its last three opponents under 20 points per game and has been one of the best defenses in the country on third down. If West Virginia can keep TCU under 24 points then this is a winnable game.
2. Red zone woes continue: While TCU ranks among the top-25 in nearly every major offensive category, there is one where the Horned Frogs have been below average and that’s in the red zone. TCU is scoring on less than 75% of its red zone opportunities in part due to turnovers and at times shaky play calling. Settling for field goals is one way to keep West Virginia in the game.
3. TCU lays an egg: With the way West Virginia has struggled on offense it’s hard to see the Mountaineers keeping pace with the Horned Frogs unless they just come out flat. It would be a major and an alarming surprise if the West Virginia offense came alive on Saturday. Surely the Mountaineers will throw everything at the TCU defense, even some trick plays, but this offense just doesn’t have the firepower.
The West Virginia defense is solid, but not elite as the Penn State game showed us. Can they really slow down TCU’s offense enough? It’s hard to envision without sloppy play on the part of TCU. Any path to an upset for West Virginia requires the Horned Frogs to make a ton of mistakes like they did against Colorado. Can TCU play another clean game?