College Football Picks ATS & Total: Iowa State vs. TCU

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 5:31 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 5:31 PM UTC

TCU enters the final weekend of the regular season at No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Whether the Frogs stay there depends partly on what they do Saturday vs. Iowa State. 

Playoff Committee Has Work Cut Out
First things first. If TCU (10-1, 7-1) beats visiting Iowa State, really by any margin, and No. 6 Baylor (10-1) loses Saturday at home to Kansas State and No. 5 Ohio State (10-1) falls in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, then the Frogs will be in the College Football Playoff, hands down, especially after leapfrogging Florida State for No. 3 in Tuesday's rankings. OK, that's the easy way for TCU.

However, the committee will have plenty to think about if TCU, Baylor and OSU all win. Certainly the Frogs will want to lay the wood as much as possible to the terrible Cyclones, and TCU is the biggest favorite of the weekend in NCAA Football odds market. Nothing less than a rout is acceptable. Even that may not be able to hold off the Bears and Buckeyes, and in this sense the Big 12 not having a conference title game could hurt it.

TCU's lone loss was Oct. 11 at Baylor, 61-58 when the Frogs blew a 21-point lead in the final 11 minutes. But if there's such a thing as a good loss, that's probably it considering Baylor was No. 5 at the time and it was in Waco. Baylor's only loss was by 14 points at an unranked West Virginia on Oct. 18. That's obviously not as good a loss. Plus Baylor played perhaps the weakest non-conference schedule in the country: SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo. That's a joke. TCU at least played a solid Minnesota team but also Samford and SMU.

Then there's Ohio State. The Buckeyes' lone loss looks terrible now: 35-21 at home to unranked Virginia Tech. That was only the second career game for OSU redshirt freshman starting QB J.T. Barrett. The Buckeyes have largely been rolling since but lost Barrett in last weekend's win against Michigan. Will the committee hold it against OSU that it will use third-string QB Cardale Jones in the playoff if Ohio State makes it? The Buckeyes actually aren't even favored on NCAA football odds vs. the Badgers in Indianapolis.

Of course TCU, Baylor and Ohio State could all be in the playoff if one or more of No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon and No. 4 Florida State lose its conference championship game. All are favored, with the Tide and Ducks by around two touchdowns at sportsbooks.

A win here would give TCU a share of the Big 12 title regardless. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said this week that the Big 12 would present TCU and Baylor, again should the Bears win, as co-champions even though Baylor owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. Only if TCU and Baylor are both left out of the top four would the league acknowledge Baylor's head-to-head win over TCU. That would give the Bears the conference's automatic spot in a major New Year's Six Bowl.


Cyclones vs. Frogs Breakdown
This game really shouldn't be close. Iowa State (2-9, 0-8) is one of four FBS schools without a conference victory, along with SMU of the American Athletic, Colorado of the Pac-12 and Georgia State of the Sun Belt. Yet ISU coach Paul Rhoads apparently is not on the hot seat.

Iowa State's two wins were upsets of Iowa and Toledo. The Cyclones have been competitive in some Big 12 games, falling to Kansas State by four, Texas by three and Texas Tech by three. But the ISU defense is terrible, allowing 37.4 points per game, 115th nationally. It has allowed at least 30 in every game but the win over the Hawkeyes. FCS school North  Dakota State put up 34 on the Cyclones in a 20-point win in the season opener.

That defense is likely going to have a long day against a TCU offense that is one of the best in the nation and has a potential Heisman finalist in quarterback Trevone Boykin. The Frogs are third in the nation in scoring (46.1 ppg) and fifth in total offense (525.8 ypg). The school is on pace for single-season school records for points, first downs, plays, passing yards and total offense. TCU has scored at least 30 points in every game with a high of 82.

Co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham has been named one of five finalists for the Broyles Award, presented to the nation's top assistant coach. TCU is currently averaging 21.0 more points per game than last year, the biggest jump in the FBS and a Big 12 record if it stands or increases. Boykin is attempting to become the third quarterback nationally since 2009 to average more than 300 yards passing (295.8 ypg) and 50 yards rushing (54.4 ypg). The other were Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel and both won the Heisman for Texas schools.

Iowa State star tight end E.J. Bibbs, a Mackey Award semifinalist, is questionable for this one. Bibbs has a team-high 45 receptions for 482 yards and eight touchdowns. He is one TD reception shy of matching Iowa State’s single-season mark. He missed ISU's last game with a knee injury. TCU running back B.J. Catalon (98 carries, 493 yards, 10 TDs) has missed three straight games and is questionable.

The Cyclones are 4-6-1 against the NCAA football spread this season and 5-6 'over/under.' TCU is 9-2 ATS and 8-3 'over/under' at sportsbooks.

Last year, TCU only won 21-17 at Iowa State, but the Frogs were a vastly different team. Boykin scored on a 1-yard TD run with 38 seconds left. 

Free NCAA Football Pick: Iowa State +33.5 and 'over' 67 points is our NCAA Football pick. This is ISU's bowl game so it will play with nothing to lose, while TCU might be too focused on running up the score instead of simply playing its game. The 'over' is 5-1 in TCU's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The 'over' is 7-4 in ISU's past 11 vs. teams with a winning record.

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