Big 12 Previews

TCU vs. West Virginia: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at West Virginia

Here is everything you need to know about the West Virginia Mountaineers and TCU Horned Frogs leading up to Saturday’s game in Fort Worth.

Game Info

6:30p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas 

TV: ESPNU 

Radio:TCU: Horned Frogs Sports Network; West Virginia: Mountaineer Sports Network. 

Records: TCU: 3-3 (1-2 in Big 12); West Virginia: 2-4 (0-3). 

Ranking: TCU: None; West Virginia: None. 

Last week: TCU lost to Oklahoma, 52-31; West Virginia, bye. 

Fun fact: West Virginia leads the all-time series against TCU, 6-4. The Mountaineers have won four of the last five meetings. 

 

Key Players 

TCU 

QB Max Duggan 

Quarterback Max Duggan exploded for a season-high 346 passing yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma last week while battling a foot injury. He’s leading the offense with the confidence and command every coach desires from a signal caller. The TCU defense has made Duggan’s job harder since points are being given up like crazy However, Duggan seems up to the task with much better numbers than a year ago. The 13 passing touchdowns already surpasses 2020 numbers (10) in four less games. Duggan also ranks second among Big 12 quarterbacks in passing efficiency (169.3).  

RB Kendre Miller 

If running back Zach Evans remains out for a second straight week, Kendre Miller should fill the starting role. Miller posted a season-high 185 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries at Texas Tech. He followed that up with 55 yards on 15 carries and caught four passes last week. Most of the receiving yards came on a 53-yard touchdown where Miller emulated Evans. Miller shook off a couple defenders and simply outran everyone for the score. More performances like this will take pressure off Evans when he returns and help the offense continue an upward trend.  

DE Ochaun Mathis 

After earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors last season, defensive end Ochaun Mathis entered the 2021 season with high expectations. The sack and tackle for loss numbers were lacking until the Oklahoma game. Mathis recorded three tackles for loss, including two sacks versus the Sooners. Those were his first sacks since week one against Duquesne. Mathis broke out and became a constant problem for quarterbacks about midway through 2020. That trend must continue. Another solid week from Mathis will help a defense desperately seeking answers.  

West Virginia 

RB Leddie Brown 

Running back Leddie Brown has hit the 100-yard rushing threshold just one time this year.  

He rushed for 161 yards on 19 carries versus Virginia Tech and has gone relatively quiet in Big 12 play. Brown posted 44 yards on 12 carries in the loss at Baylor. That was the third straight game where he ran for less than 60 yards. Brown could get a boost against a TCU defense that has already surrendered 100 yards to five different running backs. If Brown can become the sixth running back on that list, it will help the Mountaineers offense get rolling.  

WR Winston Wright 

Winston Wright remains a steady target for quarterback Jarret Doege. West Virginia’s leading receiver from 2020, Winston started the 2021 season off slower than expected. He caught just one pass versus Virginia Tech for six yards and totaled 107 yards on 10 receptions through the first three games. Big 12 play has been a different story. Wilson hauled in a team-high six passes totaling 86 yards last week and had a 106-yard, nine catch performance against Texas Tech. He has yet to score a touchdown, though. Expect more yards and points from an All-Big 12 performer. 

DL Dante Stills  

West Virginia’s defense has disrupted opposing offenses all season and Dante Stills is a big reason why. Stills could have left for the NFL but decided to sharpen his skills a little bit longer in Morgantown. It’s paid off as Stills’ sack numbers already look better than a year ago. Stills and teammate Taijh Alston each have seven tackles for loss, including four sacks. Stills can also draw double teams, which allows teammates a clearer path into the backfield.  

 

Key Storylines 

TCU 

When a defense gives up three consecutive touchdowns to the same wide receiver, clearly something is wrong. That’s exactly what happened against Oklahoma’s Jadon Haselwood. The TCU defense has battled injuries all season, especially in the secondary, but it should have enough depth to at least remain respectable. After all, head coach Gary Patterson is known for defense. The Horned Frogs rank ninth in the conference in scoring defense (32 points per game) and rushing defense (210 yards) and have surrendered at least 200 rushing yards the last four games. At least the offense can move the ball and score points (37 points). The TCU defense needs all the help it can get.  

West Virginia 

Head coach Neal Brown must figure out how to get the offense rolling. Big 12 opponents have outscored the Mountaineers 52-20 in the first half. The ensuing comebacks take too much energy and time. West Virginia’s defense holds teams to 22.5 points per game and needs an offense that better complements those efforts. Quarterback Jarret Doege has not met expectations. Maybe it’s time to move on from Doege and let Garrett Greene take the reins. After an 0-3 conference start, there isn’t much more left to lose. 

 

Prediction: TCU 30, WVU 20 

This game will come down to which team can exploit a weakness better. If TCU can move the ball and score early, West Virginia might struggle to match it. If the Mountaineers can take advantage of a struggling TCU defense, things could swing the other way.  

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