Game location: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
Game time/channel: 3:30pm ET/ESPN
Spread: -6 (TCU)
Most Recent Matchup: 2011
BYU and TCU have met 11 times, with the Horned Frogs not only holding a 6-5 advantage, but also a four-game winning streak.
This will be the third different conference that the Cougars and Frogs share.
The two squads last met in 2011 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington during BYU’s first year of independence. Special teams doomed the Cougars, specifically the punt unit. A blocked punt, dropped snap, and poor coverage led to several TCU points.
BYU actually outgained TCU, with Riley Nelson tossing for 215 yards and leading the team with 84 rushing yards.
Special teams miscues and three turnovers led to TCU’s 38-28 victory.
Head coach: Sonny Dykes (2nd season)
2023 Season Thus Far
TCU opened the season by allowing Deion Sanders-led Colorado to live up to the hype and defeat them in Fort Worth. They rebounded well, with three straight wins including having the first conference win of the year by beating Houston on the road.
West Virginia burst onto the scene as a dark horse conference title contended by beating TCU in Fort Worth two weeks ago. TCU’s problems compounded by not only losing to Iowa State by two scores the next week, but losing starting quarterback Chandler Morris to injury.
Josh Hoover took over against the Cyclones midway through. He completed 11 passes on 19 attempts for 119 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
He will make his first career start against BYU.
When BYU Has the Ball
For years, TCU’s calling card has been its defense. Last year, that was not the case. They somehow reached the College Football Playoff National Championship Game with the 95th-ranked total defense.
This year, it looks much improved, but still not where it used to be. The Cougars will need to account for defensive lineman Paul Oyewale, who has 3.0 sacks and four tackles for loss on the season.
The bye week hopefully did the BYU offense some good. Getting the ground game going is the critical part of just how far BYU can go this season. Right now, it’s ineffective at best, as BYU ranks 132nd out of 133 FBS teams in rushing yards per game.
The offensive line needs to come out as a more cohesive, aggressive unit in the run game. It would also help if the running backs behind LJ Martin could get healthy and make an impact, like Aidan Robbins.
Rumor has it receivers Kody Epps and Parker Kingston will return for this game. Epps has only played 22 snaps all season, all coming against Arkansas. Quarterback Kedon Slovis welcomes more weapons at his disposal in the air attack.
When TCU Has the Ball
As mentioned, the Horned Frogs are rolling with their backup quarterback making his first career start. However, that shouldn’t make BYU fans too cocky. TCU is 30th in the FBS in rushing yards per game. Running back Emani Bailey is third in all FBS in rushing yards, at 690. He is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and has two touchdowns. They have a prolific rushing attack that will test BYU’s defense.
The concerning part is BYU is currently 84th in rushing yards allowed per game.
Receiver JP Richardson is a speedy playmaker from the slot. He had a 59-yard touchdown reception early in the game against West Virginia.
BYU will be without Ben Bywater and Talan Alfrey this Saturday. Oregon transfer Harrison Taggart stepped up in Bywater’s absence at linebacker against Cincinnati and collected 13 tackles.
Defensive end Tyler Batty continues to have a breakout season in his fourth year. He will need to be a game-wrecker against TCU with a backup quarterback in play.
How BYU Can Win
BYU needs to fix their run game. Kedon Slovis has been good enough at quarterback with good weapons around him, but if BYU is going to take the next step, which is to win a Big 12 game on the road, they need the offensive line and running backs to step up.
The more BYU can hang onto the ball and keep TCU’s offense out of rhythm, the better.
BYU needs to stop Bailey and the TCU ground game. They need to limit Bailey to less than 100 yards, which is what West Virginia did.
If the Cougars can make Hoover uncomfortable and speed the game up on the backup QB, they should be in a good spot.
Prediction: BYU 27, TCU 23