TCU vs. Utah: The Match-Up

The Utes try to get back on track, but have tough one this week. They get TCU, a team also trying to get on the winning track.

TCU (3-1) at Utah (3-2) 9 PM EST Versus Thursday October 5th
Why to Watch: This doesn't have nearly the luster it might have had a few weeks ago when each team was still dreaming about getting into the BCS, but it's still and important game in the Mountain West race and could be an elimination game. TCU, with two weeks off after stonewalling Texas Tech 12-3, got coldly and ruthlessly run over by BYU 31-17 making this a make-or-break game for any title hopes. Almost certain to be favored in every game the rest of the way out, 11-1 is still possible with a win in Salt Lake City. Utah is trying to get the license plate of the Boise State truck that hit it last week in a 6-3 loss that was even uglier than the score might indicate. Now there's a quarterback controversy and questions all over the place since the Utes have yet to beat a team with a D-I win.

Why TCU Might Win: Utah's offense isn't nearly potent enough to do much against the talented TCU D. With a combined 13 points and 365 yards in the two losses to UCLA and Boise State, Utah's attack showed some major flaws, especially in the running game. TCU's attacking defense will bend, but it hasn't broken all that often despite taking the best shots from high-octane passing attacks like Texas Tech's and BYU's. The secondary can be thrown on, but Utah's passing game isn't clicking.

Why Utah Might Win: Getting the Utah quarterbacks time shouldn't be a problem. While Boise State was able to generate pressure into the backfield last week, the quarterbacks were able to get the ball off, for good and bad, forcing a few interceptions and generally misfiring. TCU's pass rush hasn't been quite as dangerous as it was last year despite facing two pure passing teams and a BYU squad that like to air it out. Utah has yet to allow a sack this season.

Who to Watch: Talk about your quarterback issues, Utah's Brett Ratliff was supposed to come into the season and pick up where he left off at the end of last year, and he was fantastic against the dregs throwing three touchdown passes against Northern Arizona and Utah State, but he hasn't shown up in the two big games completing 18 of 52 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown with four interceptions prompting talk of playing backup Tommy Grady more or even bringing back Brian Johnson, who was planning to sit out the year to let his injured knee heal. For TCU, Jeff Ballard is expected to start even with a bad shoulder, but his ability to practice this week was limited meaning redshirt freshman Marcus Jackson might have to be at the ready. Jackson completed 11 of 13 passes for 148 yards and two scores against Baylor in the season-opener and provides more mobility than Ballard.

What Will Happen: Utah hasn't shown any signs of being able to win a game like this. TCU's defense will keep the problems going for the struggling Utah attack.

CFN Prediction:TCU 23 ... Utah 13 ...
Line: Pick
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Rachael Ray) ... 3.5


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