There will be football played Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium, when Iowa State (1-7) hosts TCU (3-6) at 11 a.m., but it won't be pretty football. Of 125 FBS teams, Iowa State and TCU are Nos. 109 and 110 in total offense per game, respectively.
Injuries have bit each team hard. Last year's Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, TCU end Devonte Fields, is out for the season. The Horned Frogs did get quarterback Casey Pachall back last week. He threw for nearly 400 yards. For Iowa State, the more apt question is who hasn't been injured?
The Horned Frogs began the season in the Top 25 and played LSU tough in the season-opener, 37-27.
There weren't any legitimate signs of warning until a couple weeks ago, a 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State. Before then, TCU's three losses had each been by 10 points and to a ranked team. The Horned Frogs lost to the No. 15 Cowboys by 14 with an offense that turned the ball over four times.
The next week, TCU was blown out at home by Texas, 30-7. Last weekend the Horned Frogs gave up a big lead and lost in overtime at home to West Virginia, 30-27.
There are three games left to achieve bowl eligibility; the best shots are at Iowa State and Kansas State the next two weeks — although Kansas State is improving and tough at home — and then a home game against Baylor over Thanksgiving weekend. The Bears are superb, but they may be mortal away from home.
Boykin remains a good runner — he had 101 yards against Texas Tech and 71 against Kansas — and is still a central part of the offense. Moving to receiver after Pachall's return, Boykin caught 11 passes for 100 yards last week.
B.J. Catalon is the team's leading rusher, though he has been held in check since Oct. 12 against Kansas. Nebraska transfer Aaron Green — a member of the star-studded (and mostly disappointing) Texas running backs class in 2011 that featured Malcolm Brown, Brandon Williams and Herschel Sims — has done little to impress, his best coming against Texas on a six-carry, 34-yard day.
Waymon James suffered a season-ending injury early in 2012 and has been unable to regain his 2011 form, when as a sophomore he picked up seven yards a carry and scored six touchdowns. TCU's running backs timeshare is to blame, as James is only carrying the ball six times a game. He's averaging a good 4.4 yards a carry.
The team also misses Skye Dawson, a 34-catch, 455-yard senior in 2012.
Brandon Carter has not emerged as the No. 1 option like TCU had hoped; the junior finds himself in the dog house for lapses in route running and blocking. He has 17 receptions for 197 yards and no touchdowns, significantly disappointing after he notched 590 yards and scored six touchdowns in 2012.
At No. 61, TCU's average yield of 230 pass yards per game is its worst defensive metric. But consider the Frogs have Jason Verrett, one of the nation's top cornerbacks, and most offenses are still hesitant to take too many shots.
There is no replacing Devonte Fields but the Horned Frogs have actually upped their sacks per game from a year ago, tied for 16th nationally with 2.89.
|Matchup Preview | November 9, 2013|
|TCU Horned Frogs|
(3-6, 0-3 Away)
|Iowa State Cyclones|
(1-7, 0-4 Home)