Frogs Today staff report
FORT WORTH — The guy in charge of the weekly predictions went on vacation last week, and, well, the predictions for the TCU-Baylor game slipped through the cracks.
Rest assured, though, that the four of us were planning to pick TCU 29, Baylor 28.
Three of the writers remain unbeaten this season, just like the Horned Frogs, with one regular-season game to go. We’ll just call the one who has missed a few Melissa T. No, that’s too obvious. We’ll go with M. Triebwasser.
In her defense, a few of those were intentional as superstition superceded common sense.
Common sense says that TCU should have no problem Saturday with Iowa State. The Big 12’s best team is playing the conference’s worst.
Alas, the best team has some key playmakers on offense who are banged up and will be limited against the Cyclones. These Cyclones have the best defense in the conference.
Keep that in mind when anticipating a 55-3 Frogs win, as was the case in the 2014 season finale.
What do we think. Let’s find out:
Jeff Wilson: TCU is going win this game, but it’s not going to be easy and probably isn’t going to be asthetically pleasing. That’s been a theme of late, though the big plays have still been available for the offense. As stingy as Iowa State is on defense, though, and with running back Kendre Miller and wide receivers Quentin Johnston and Derius Davis hobbled, things might be a little trick for Max Duggan. So, look at the last two drives of the Baylor game. Taye Barber and Jared Wiley will have to be primary targets in the passing game, and Duggan might have to run more than he has. The Frogs’ defense needs to be better than last week and should against a balky Iowa State offense. TCU 31, Iowa State 13
Melissa Triebwasser: Iowa State is, statistically, the best defense in the Big 12, and may well be a top-five unit in the country. If the offense was even competent, Matt Campbell’s Cyclones would be competing for a conference title. Their six one-score losses could all easily be wins. But competent it is not, as the Cyclones dearly miss quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Breece Hall, and have managed to break the 20-point barrier just three times in conference play behind redshirt sophomore Hunter Dekkers. Xavier Hutchinson is an all-world wide receiver and on paper is the most productive pass-catcher TCU has faced all season. A big part of that is talent, but it also helps that he has double the catches of anyone else on the roster as Iowa State has yet to identify a running mate for its all-star.
Back to that defense, though: No team gives up fewer points, no team allows fewer rushing yards, no team has surrendered fewer passing yards … you get the point. Fortunately for TCU, the Cyclones don’t sack the quarterback or force many turnovers. They just make everything you do exceptionally difficult. Factor in that Max Duggan will at best be working with a hobbled trio of Quentin Johnston, Derius Davis and Kendre Miller, and you can bet this one will be all kinds of fun — if you hate yourself.
All that being said, there’s too much at stake for the Horned Frogs, who find themselves on the verge of an undefeated regular season and within two wins of their first ever playoff berth. It won’t be pretty, but TCU gets it done on its home field Saturday afternoon. TCU 20, Iowa State 11
Jamie Plunkett: It all comes down to this. Derius Davis, Kendre Miller and Quentin Johnston will play, because when an undefeated season and playoff berth are on the line, your best players will gut it out. The rain and such will change the tone of this one, but the good news is that Iowa State doesn’t have a very potent run game and its passing game relies exclusively on Xavier Hutchinson getting open.
The Frogs know what is on the line, and as they’ve showed all year their focus is unwavering. Now is not the time to check out, and the Frogs won’t. TCU 31, Iowa State 10.
Coach Beaudin: Right or wrong, TCU needs to win the next two games. One has to imagine the focus that provides against a tough Iowa State, with a defense built for bad-weather games, is welcomed by Frogs coach Sonny Dykes and staff.
While the Cyclones’ record of 4-7 does not call for a weather emergency in any region, six of those losses come by way of a touchdown or less. In spite of losing a great deal of offensive firepower to graduation a year ago, Iowa State plays a brand of football that is primed for upsets. They have a swarming defense, a solid kicking game and an offense that is capable of grinding a defense and a game clock.
While a fast start to any game is an overused cliche, it is fitting against a Cyclones offense that struggles to create chunk plays or scoring flurries of any sort. In addition, the rain in Fort Worth is expected to pick up in the second half. If the Frogs win the toss, I expect them to take the ball and run some misdirection plays early to catch the Cyclones slipping on the wet turf.
I believe the Frogs can find a way to take an early lead and therefore never look back. TCU 31, Iowa State 14