Max Duggan is leading the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs to one of the best seasons in team history. TCU has climbed the AP Poll to No.7 in the country and is sitting in first place in Big 12 play on a 7-0 season.
The Frogs travel to face the West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday in an effort to continue the winning tradition that has ignited since head coach Sonny Dykes was hired in the offseason.
This game has all the makings of a blow-out TCU victory, a sign that all too often indicates that this one might break down into a defensive and low-scoring struggle. West Virginia will need to find talent in the middle of the field to shut down a dynamic receiving core led by TCU’s Quentin Johnston and Derius Davis.
Johnston has totaled 574 yards and is averaging over 15 yards per catch. Davis, who often doubles on kick returns, has blazing speed and the ability to turn short receptions into chunk yardage plays at any moment. His 80-yard touchdown reception came on a flip from Duggan in the backfield.
The Mountaineers will ride their three-headed running back committee to control the game clock and wear out the TCU defense that has struggled against the rush at times this season. Tony Mathis Jr., C.J. Donaldson, and Justin Johnson Jr. have combined for 1,163 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns combined in 2022. Quarterback J.T. Daniels has had an erratic season with moments of brilliance and some terrible decisions.
Last week, Daniels and the Mountaineers were beaten 48-10 by Texas Tech in a game in which Daniels completed only 194 yards and one touchdown, and had three interceptions. Daniels has not had a multiple touchdown day since Week 2, one of the primary reasons the Mountaineers are 3-4 and sitting at No.8 in the Big 12 this season.
Where the Mountaineers may have success will be on defense. West Virginia has a respectable pass rush that has accounted for 14 sacks and is five-of-five on forced fumble recoveries. Defensive tackle Dante Stills (2.5) and linebacker Lee Kpogba (2) lead the defense in sack contributions.
The TCU defense has given up 12 touchdowns on the ground while surrendering nearly 1,100 yards to opponents’ running backs. These numbers will need to tighten up against West Virginia and force the Mountaineers to rely on Daniels and the possibility of intercepting erratic passes.
The Frogs defense has a total of 10 takeaways, eight of which have come on interceptions. Safety Bud Clark and cornerback Josh Newton both have two interceptions to lead the defense. The only team to have a modicum of success against the TCU defense this season was Oklahoma State, who was forced into a pass-first offense and accumulated 245 yards before falling in overtime.
Current expectations for this game by ESPN analysts indicate a blowout victory for TCU, the team’s eighth of the season. ESPN gives the Horned Frogs a 68% chance of victory.
The game will kick off at 11 a.m. CST on October 29 from Milan Puskar Stadium in West Virginia.