Big 12 Previews

TCU vs. Texas Tech: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Texas Christian

Here is everything you need to know about the TCU Horned Frogs and the Texas Tech Red Raiders in our TCU vs. Texas Tech preview.

Game Info

6 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas


Radio: TCU: Horned Frogs Radio Network; Texas Tech: Texas Tech Sports Network.

Records: TCU, 2-2 (0-1 in Big 12); Texas Tech, 4-1 (1-1).

Ranking: Texas: None; TCU: None.

Last week: Texas def. TCU, 32-27; Texas Tech def. West Virginia, 23-20.

Fun Fact: The paths of TCU head coach Gary Patterson and Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells passed long before the Big 12. When Wells was a quarterback at Utah State in the 1990s, Patterson was on the Aggies’ defensive staff.


Key players


RB Zach Evans: This back is likely to get a bit lost in the career greatness of Iowa State’s Breece Hall and the emerging Heisman candidacy of Texas back Bijan Robinson. But Evans is going to be consistently productive every week for the Horned Frogs. Against Texas, Evans finished with 113 yards on 15 carries for his fifth 100-yard game in the last seven contests. He also scored the Horned Frogs’ first touchdown in that game, as he’s reached the end zone in five of his last six contests. He has 443 yards rushing and three touchdowns in four games this season. Evans is Top 10 in the Big 12 in all-purpose yardage and third in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game (110.7).

DL Dylan Horton: So, who is Dylan Horton, you ask? Horton is the only Horned Frog with two sacks and four tackles for loss this season. If you find that surprising, you’re not the only one. Horton received little hype going into the 2021 season. But the 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior transferred to TCU after two seasons at New Mexico, and in last year’s truncated 2020, he played in eight games and had eight tackles. He has already set career single-season highs for sacks and tackles for loss and we’re not even halfway through the season. Keep an eye on him.

KR JD Spielman. The former Nebraska Cornhuskers gave the Horned Frogs one of their biggest plays of the game against Texas with a game-opening 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. For the season, he’s emerged as one of the most productive kick returners in the country. He ranks fifth nationally in kickoff return average at 33.6 yards. The touchdown on Saturday shouldn’t be that much of a surprise if you followed his career at Nebraska, where he totaled three special-teams touchdowns.

Texas Tech

LB Colin Schooler: Chances are he’s impressing NFL scouts this season. He had 15 tackles and forced a fumble on a strip-sack to help the Red Raiders beat West Virginia on the road last Saturday. The Big 12 named him the conference’s defensive player of the week. Right now, Schooler is the active leader in career tackles and tackles for loss in FBS, an auspicious honor playing for a defensive unit that doesn’t get much respect. But Schooler has helped change that, as the Red Raiders are giving up just 21 points per game in their four victories this season. Schooler has 44 tackles entering Saturday’s game.

QB Henry Colombi: The Horned Frogs know Colombi well. He threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns a year ago against TCU, which was just the third start of his career. And both of his touchdown passes were bombs. Last week, in his first start in place of the injured Tyler Shough, he led the Red Raiders on a game-winning drive in the closing minutes and threw for 266 yards against the Mountaineers. Colombi actually had a more productive outing against Texas (323 yards), but the Red Raiders will take the win.

PK Jonathan Garibay: Kickers don’t get much attention, but Garibay deserves some after his game-winner against West Virginia with 18 seconds left. He had three field goals in the game, and he was part of the reason the Red Raiders had a 17-0 lead at halftime. Garibay shared Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week along with Texas kicker Colin Dicker. Garibay’s other game-winner came last season against Baylor as he made a field goal as time expired.


Key storylines


TCU had been dominant against Texas since joining the Big 12 (7-2 overall), but its loss to the Longhorns on Saturday puts the Horned Frogs are in the awkward position of trying to avoid an 0-2 start to Big 12 play. Oddly enough, TCU’s issues appear to be on the defensive side of the ball, the area that head coach Gary Patterson is well known as one of the game’s best architects. Going into Saturday’s game with Texas Tech, the only Big 12 team that has given up more yards per game than TCU’s 397 is Kansas (489.8). That should tell you all you need to know about the state of the Horned Frogs’ defense right now. Statistically speaking, this is not the unit TCU fans are used to, at least right now.

Texas Tech

As disheartening as Texas Tech’s loss was to Texas two weeks ago, the Red Raiders’ gutty road win over West Virginia was an important bounce-back for a program that is trying to make a bowl game for the first time since 2017. The Red Raiders are now two wins away from being bowl eligible, and that would be a big deal for head coach Matt Wells, who some felt was on the hot seat entering the season. The Red Raiders won last Saturday’s game despite missing several starters due to injury, including their quarterback Tyler Shough. The Red Raiders hope to have some of those players back when they face TCU, and chances are they’ll need them. The Red Raiders will be without running back Chardarius Townsend for the rest of the season due to a fracture scapula.


Prediction: Texas Tech 31, TCU 27

I really don’t know who to pick in this game. So I’ll take the home team, and the team that has a little bit more momentum after claiming its first Big 12 road win of the season.

READ MORE: Iowa State Football Turning the Corner, But Hold the Congratulations, For Now

READ MORE: Five Biggest Takeaways From Week 5 of the Big 12 Football Season

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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