The TCU Horned Frogs have lost five of their last seven games and things do not get any easier with a trip to Milan Puskar Stadium for a date with the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday afternoon. TCU had dropped three in a row before beating Kansas State this past weekend. The Mountaineers have bounced back from their lone setback of the season with consecutive victories over Baylor and Texas.
Defense leading the way
Things have gone south in a hurry for TCU, which is 1-3 in its last four contests and 2-5 in its last seven since beginning the season 2-0. The team has had to deal with the loss of its two best offensive players in recent weeks. Quarterback Shawn Robinson (injury) and Kavonte Turpin (discipline) are both done for the season. Fortunately for the Horned Frogs, their 4-2-5 defense has been outstanding throughout the 2018 campaign. The team is No. 1 in the Big 12 in pass defense, allowing only 190.7 yards per game. It is second in total defense–surrendering 335.0 yards per contest–and third in scoring defense (23.7 points per game). Cornerback Jeff Gladney had three tackles for loss and one sack during last week’s 14-13 win over Kansas State. TCU limited the Wildcats to 301 yards of total offense (just 162 through the air).
— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) November 6, 2018
“TCU is still first or second in every dang defensive category that exists in the Big 12,” West Virginia head coach Dana Holgerson commented. “It’s always been hard to move the ball on them. (Horned Frogs head coach) Gary Patterson is the best defensive coach in the country.”
Linebackers in line to play
For the first time this season, West Virginia will have a full stable of linebackers for its showdown against TCU. According to defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, senior Quandarius Qualls and sophomore Brendan Ferns both have the green light for Saturday. Qualls and Ferns, who had been out since tearing knee ligaments in different spring practice incidents, returned to practice last week but ended up not making a trip that eventually resulted in a 42-41 victory over Texas.
Sophomore Dylan Tonkery dressed out against the Longhorns but did not see the field. He is expected to play against the Horned Frogs. Ferns and Tonkery give the Mountaineers necessary depth at middle linebacker, a position that has been held down by Shea Campbell.
“We kind of knew last week was just getting them back into it,” Gibson said of his injured players. “We didn’t travel them. This week, they’re in the plans. It’s full speed ahead…. We need them all. Shea Campbell doesn’t need to be playing 77 snaps in a game. We just need to keep rolling guys and keep them healthy.”
The West Virginia Mountaineers are:
- 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight overall
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games on fieldturf
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games against TCU
The TCU Horned Frogs are:
- 0-6 ATS in their last six overall
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games
- 1-7 ATS in their last eight games against teams with winning records
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
West Virginia plans on being able to find success against TCU’s stout defense. Having two capable tight ends could help. Trevon Wesco and Jovani Haskins combined for 60 yards on seven catches against Texas, a dimension the Mountaineers had not yet showcased in 2018. “Having two tight ends makes us more multiple and harder to defend,” Holgorsen explained. “I don’t care which of our five skill guys are on the field at any time, they are all threats to get the ball. They have to cover all of them.” The bottom line is that this is a tale of two teams going in opposite directions at the moment.
Prediction: West Virginia Mountaineers
Full-Game Total Pick
Despite their injuries, the Mountaineers are still in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 with 17 sacks. They will likely improve in that department the rest of the way now that the defense is healthy. And that should begin on Saturday against a TCU offense that is strikingly undermanned due to recent departures. The under is 13-6 in the Horned Frogs’ last 19 overall, 13-3 in their last 16 on the road, 7-3 in their last 10 against winning opponents, and 21-7 in their last 28 against the Big 12. It is also 5-2 in the Mountaineers’ last seven at home. Additionally, the under is 4-0 in the last four meetings between the two teams. Look for this one to stay under the total.