After losing a seventh defensive starter and surrendering 37 points a week ago, the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs (3-0) open Big 12 play against the revenge-minded Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-0) Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson suspended senior defensive end Mike Tuaua after he was charged with robbery and bodily injury of another student last week, further weakening a defense that lost cornerback Ranthony Texada, linebacker Sammy Douglas, safety Kenny Iloka, and defensive end James McFarland to season-ending injuries. Meanwhile, linebacker Mike Freeze has taken a leave of absence from the team.
The loss of key personnel contributed to the Horned Frogs poor defensive performance against unranked Southern Methodist last week, which included the Mustangs racking up 508 total offensive yards and four touchdowns.
TCU relied on Heisman Trophy candidate Trevone Boykin’s 454 yards passing yards and his six total touchdowns, five in the air and one on the ground, to go with 50 rushing yards. Senior running back Aaron Green rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and receiver Josh Doctson was Boykin’s main benefactor with five receptions for 171 yards and two more scores in the 56-37 win.
But as good as Boykin and Co. were last week, they were even better against the Red Raiders in last season’s record-setting 82-27 home victory. Boykin fired off seven touchdowns against Tech, including four in the decisive third quarter.
TCU would account for 786 total yards with no turnovers to Tech’s 446 yards and four giveaways, an embarrassing loss for head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s squad and one they have not forgotten.
"I don't think you forget losses like that," Kingsbury told reporters this week. "I know as a player, I didn't. It's an in-conference game, that should be motivation enough but I'm sure they haven't forgotten what happened last year."
Yet before that shocking letdown, the Red Raiders lost four of their previous five games by an average of 16.5 points, Patrick Mahomes wasn’t the starting quarterback, and Tech weren’t considered a threat in the conference. This year, Mahomes is a sophomore riding a three-game winning streak with 1,029 passing yards, nine touchdowns to three interceptions, and a huge victory over Arkansas under his belt.
Mahomes even showed he could overcome poor play. He tossed two interceptions in the first half, but opened the second-half with an 11-play, 77-yard drive and capped it with a two-yard touchdown scamper to take a lead Tech would never relinquish. Mahomes totaled 243 passing yards with one touchdown, but gained another 58 rushing yards and two more scores to drop the Razorbacks, 35-24.
But with the Red Raiders defense coughing up 491.7 yards and 29.7 points per game, as well as opponents scoring on nine of their 11 trips to the red zone, Kingsbury might avoid a shootout with the Frogs, even if their defense is wounded.
Tech has rolled out a largely ineffective pass rush, forcing only three sacks for a loss of eight yards through three games. And it hasn’t done any better against the run, conceding 257.3 rushing yards.
Betting Odds: TCU -7
Over/Under: 80.5 points
Kickoff Time: Saturday, 4:45 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Live Online: Fox Sports GO