BYU turned a corner last week, rebounding against San Diego State, and cruising toward greatness with renewed zeal as Bronco reclaimed the D, and his team as a whole. The Cougars and their new-found zeal will face a seemingly impossible task this week as they travel to Fort Worth to face the Horned Frogs of TCU. After losing a shootout to TCU in 2005, BYU won games against the Frogs in 2006 and 2007, and TCU has won the last two meetings.
TCU is the #4 team in the nation. The only game they’ve lost the last two years was to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl at the end of last season. They have their sights set on a national championship this year – the apex of Coach Patterson’s pyramid of goals/accomplishments. It’s a team that features the #2 scoring defense and the #8 scoring offense. Basically, TCU is one tough cookie.
They are delighted to be 2-4 this week. Certainly it does seem a lot better than 1-5. The Cougars played an inspired game last week against San Diego State, and emotion combined with execution turned into a win. The defense held a potent SDSU rushing attack to -2 yards in the first half, and to 53 total for the game. Bronco taking over the defense has had an immediate impact, and this team is going to look better and better as the season progresses. This may not be the best week for the Cougars to demonstrate their growth, but if they did pull off a win, this would be the biggest upset in BYU history. Why? Because they’ve never beaten someone this good when they’ve been this bad.
Keys to the game
Jake Heaps and the Receivers. The run game was able to alleviate some stress that was resting squarely on the shoulders of Jake Heaps last week. That led to him completing a better percentage of passes (15/22) than in previous games. TCU’s potent offense and stingy defense will likely have the Cougars playing from behind, so expect some more passing attempts from Heaps this week. The TCU defense might be caught off guard if BYU’s receivers actually catch the passes that hit them in the hands.
The Rush Attack. Last week, JJ DiLuigi and Bryan Kariya combined for over 200 yards rushing, which helped BYU completely dominate the time of possession (45:01). It certainly couldn’t hurt to be able to pull off something like that against TCU, but you have to ask yourself: which would you rather have on the field? TCU’s offense, or their defense?
Ball Control. In the last two losses to TCU, BYU has turned over the ball 6 times, to TCU’s 1. Against a team as good as TCU, every possession is important, and you cannot give up any opportunities.
It’s all about the D. My favorite line to tweet during last week’s game? Anything that involved “Bronco D.” The Bronco D is back – including longer practices, harder practices, and more intense practices than before. They showed that they have the ability to make enough plays to win last week, and the offense also fed off of their energy. If the Cougars are going to pull off an upset, it will be because their defense kept them close.
In my season preview, I chose TCU over BYU, 42-35. I don’t think it will be that close now. My best guess is 35-10. It’s still a statement win for the Frogs, but also reflects BYU’s improvement. In that scenario, TCU would not score as many points as they have averaged through 6 games, though their defense will continue to maintain its average. I do not see this game as TCU’s third shutout, but it should be a decisive win for the frogs. I’ve said this before though- the odds are stacked against the Cougars tomorrow. They are four touchdown underdogs. So they have nothing to lose. If this game is anywhere close at halftime, watch out.