WVU, TCU exceeding expectations in 2014

Not many people expected Saturday's matchup between West Virginia and TCU to be one that could potentially have Big 12 Conference title implications.

But as the No. 10 Horned Frogs travel to Morgantown to take on the No. 20 Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium, that's exactly what it looks like.

Both of the teams that entered the Big 12 a few years ago came into the 2014 season after uncharacteristically poor seasons by their respective program's standards - both finishing 4-8 - and were picked near the bottom of the conference in the league's preseason conference standings.

"It really is pretty neat to be able to have this matchup this weekend," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "We came into the league at the same time. Both programs had a tremendous amount of success in other conferences, went to BCS games, won a lot of games.

"We're settled in a little bit."

That process of settling into the Big 12 has been the most important thing for both teams, as it has taken a lot of time for them to get adjusted to the new league. Much like it was the key for WVU, a major difference Holgorsen sees in this year's TCU team is a higher level of depth spread throughout the Horned Frogs team.

"It looks like their depth is a lot better. They're settled in," Holgorsen said. "They've been extremely competitive the first two years, but because of that depth and they're settled in, they're winning games. It's very similar to what we're doing, it's been very similar for our programs."

West Virginia is coming off two of its more impressive victories of the season, upsetting then-No. 4 Baylor and then going on the road to use its running game and another solid defensive performance to defeat Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. The Mountaineers played a total of 58 players during the win over the Cowboys Saturday - a far cry from the lack of depth it suffered from a couple of years ago when they entered the league.

"The first couple of years, we were lucky to have a backup that could go into the game, much less go into the game and play at the level that our guys are playing at right now," Holgorsen said. "The biggest thing is having enough bodies to play at a high level. When we first entered the league, we had a couple of dynamic players, but we were playing so many freshmen. Three years later, our recruiting has gotten so much better."

TCU is also coming off an impressive victory, taking down Texas Tech by a final score of 82-27.

Despite the way offenses have been going - scoring at a higher rate than ever - Holgorsen shot down any notions that a team could break triple digits and score 100 points in a game.

"Eighty-two is awful high. There are things that have to exist on all three sides of the ball to hit a number that high," Holgorsen said. "I don't think coaches will do that. It takes a very special situation with both teams playing very fast and one team not playing very well. I know it sounds like it could happen, but I don't anticipate that."

A big reason for the Horned Frogs' success has been the play of junior quarterback Trevone Boykin. Boykin beat WVU as TCU's quarterback as a freshman, and then was the Horned Frogs' leading receiver last season - catching 11 passes for 100 yards against the Mountaineers.

"He was a pretty good receiver. They should move him back there this week," Holgorsen joked Monday. "When Boykin started at quarterback two years ago in Morgantown and beat us, I thought he was special then."


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