Coming off their first home loss since November 2013 last weekend, the now unranked TCU Horned Frogs (1-1) may very well have to run the table in the Big 12 to salvage any hopes at a national championship. That task begins this weekend, as the Frogs host the Iowa State Cyclones (0-2) for a Saturday morning contest to begin conference-play in 2016.
The 11 a.m. start in Fort Worth will be a quick turnaround for both opponents, but it will be a prime opportunity for Gary Patterson and the Frogs to regain their mojo, facing a Cyclone squad that has struggled out of the gate now under the leadership of first-year head coach Matt Campbell. Here’s all that you need to know for this year’s edition of TCU’s Homecoming contest.
Iowa State handed TCU its first loss in Big 12 history when the Cyclones rolled through Fort Worth with a 37-27 victory in 2012, but the Frogs have had ISU’s number ever since. Coming into the contest, TCU has won the last three contests against the Cyclones, decimating them by a score of 55-3 in 2014 when they last faced each other in Forth Worth. ISU gave the Frogs a run for their money when the games were played in Ames in 2013 and 2015, but TCU prevailed in both of those contests, winning 21-17 and 45-21, respectively. All time, TCU leads Iowa State 6-1. http://www.scout.com/college/tcu/story/1706260-frogs-look-for-bounce-bac...
Of course, this will be the first time that the Frogs have faced an Iowa State squad not under the leadership of former head coach Paul Rhoads, which makes the Cyclones an entirely different animal from that perspective. Fortunately for TCU though, ISU enters this game with little to no momentum, suffering an ugly 25-20 home loss to Northern Iowa in week one before getting blown out of the water by Iowa last weekend, 42-3. And that is even with the Cyclones returning key players from the 2015 campaign such as QB Joel Lanning, DE Mitchell Meyers, safety Kamari Cotton-Moya and kicker Cole Netten, whose 75 percent accuracy over 52 career attempts makes him the most accurate kicker in Iowa State history.
What a win means for TCU
Coming off a crushing double overtime loss to Arkansas that bumped the Frogs from the top 25 for the first time in over 700 days, a dominant win is what TCU needs to regain their composure entering conference play. There will be a gap next weekend against SMU, but after that, the Frogs play in what may be their biggest game of the year as they host the Big-12 favorite Oklahoma Sooners. A lot can obviously happen in two weeks, but another dominant performance by Kenny Hill in week three combined with a defensive showing reminiscent of what we saw in 2014 would certainly get the ball of momentum rolling for TCU when they need it most. It may or may not be enough to get the Frogs ranked again after this week, but Fort Worth desperately needs something to smile about after last weekend. On that note, TCU fans shouldn’t be so worked up over last week considering that teams with early losses have rebounded to make the playoff in the past two years (Oklahoma and Ohio State).
What a win means for Iowa State
First things first, a win for the Cyclones would finally get them on the board in the win column this season, and it would certainly make Campbell’s job a lot easier after an era of new hope has begun with anything but hope two weeks in. With TCU unranked, a road win in Fort Worth wouldn’t mean as much for the Cyclones had the Frogs entered the game 2-0 and in the top 15, but it will still give ISU fans some reassurance if they had any doubts about Campbell’s ability to coach in the Big 12. The Cyclones face a serious uphill battle in this one though, and you know that’s the case when your opponent’s quarterback has 80 more rushing yards on the season than your top running back.
TCU players to watch on offense and defense
KaVontae Turpin, WR) – Kenny Hilll has certainly been getting the bulk of the attention on offense for the Frogs the last two weeks, but don’t forget about the “little engine that could” – KaVontae Turpin. He may weigh just over 150 pounds, but Turpin has serious speed and agility, and that’s not secret from what we saw last season and the past two weeks. Turpin leads all TCU receivers this season with 188 yards on 14 receptions, and his ability to return kick has entertained us all. If Ryan Graf’s late field goal hadn’t been blocked last week, Turpin’s huge kick-off return in the final minute would likely be talked about as the play that made the difference. Look for Turpin to have another explosive day this weekend as the Frogs face a Cyclones defense largely intact from last season.
Sammy Douglas, LB) – After suffering a season ending injury in the opening game of the 2015 season, Sammy Douglas is another Frogs that has been overlooked by many people in 2016, which makes him very dangerous for that matter. Douglas had 17 tackles in the loss to the Razorbacks, and that was a big reason why TCU was able to hold Arkansas on third down as many times as they did. Of course it wasn’t enough in the grand scheme of things that evening, but win or lose, 17 tackles is 17 tackles. Douglas said Tuesday that he “feels great” and boy did his performance last weekend support it. Expect Douglas to pick up right where he left off as the defense looks to put up big numbers against the Cyclones.
Quote to note: “When you lose, you have to get back up and keep moving forward. It’s a big learning experience,” TCU linebacker Sammy Douglas said.
Reasons for concern
Similar to week one against South Dakota State, this is a game that the Frogs should win easily on paper. You play the game for a reason though, and neither game that TCU has played in this season has been exactly easy. Last season, that was the case for the Frogs against Iowa State as well, as Lanning and the Cyclones put up 21 points on the Frogs in the first quarter before getting shutout for the remaining three quarters. Combine a more experienced Lanning with a struggling TCU secondary this time around, it will be interesting to see if the Iowa State offense will be able to put up points against the Frogs early like they did in 2015. Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard has recorded more than 100 receiving yards, and hopefully he won’t be posing the same problems for Frogs defense that South Dakota State’s Jake Wieneke posed in week one.
And then there is the problem of penalties. The Frogs simply took to many penalties at un-opportune times in last week’s loss, and they can’t afford to do that again if they expect to win games going forward. Essentially, the concern is a lack of discipline, and that’s surprising considering how many experienced starters TCU has on both sides of the ball.
Dean Straka’s prediction
The 11 a.m. start is always hard to predict when it comes to TCU. There have been blowout wins at this start time such as last year’s 50-7 victory over Texas, and there have been games too close for comfort such as the gritty win against winless Kansas that same season. Of course this is a brand new year with brand new teams, but morning games are always a quick turnaround.
TCU players such as Douglas have said that last week’s game against Arkansas was a “wake up call,” and Saturday morning we will see if the Frogs have indeed awoken. And the think we will see that they have. Will Lanning and Lazard get the Cyclones on the board a few times? Yes, but the combination of Kenny Hill, KaVontae Turpin and a hungry defense that now has a chip on its shoulder will be too much for Iowa State to handle.
TCU 48, ISU 20