Look Beneath The Flash: Back Underrated TCU to Cover Inflated Spread vs Oklahoma State

TCU Horned Frogs

Rainman M.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 8:42 PM GMT

Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2017 8:42 PM GMT

In this week's most prolific match-up, #16 TCU (3-0) plays at #6 Oklahoma State (3-0) this Saturday at 3:30 PM ET. TCU looks to avenge last year's 31-6 beating at home. Oklahoma State opened as 10.5 point favorites but that number has been bet up to 13.

TCU Horned Frogs vs Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State is currently the most hyped team in the nation because they have steamrolled each of their opponents this season by 30+ points. They have beaten two teams outside of the power 5 and a Pittsburgh squad whose abysmal secondary was also missing its best player.

Oklahoma State relies most on its passing attack, led by quarterback Mason Rudolph and his 210 passer rating. When Rudolph has struggled, so has Oklahoma State. Last season, in games where Rudolph's passer rating was less than 150, the Cowboys were 1-3 SU.  The one win came against TCU and their anemic offense, which produced only 6 points.

This season, the Cowboys are all the more dependent on Rudolph. They lose three veteran running backs who combined for almost 1,000 yards last season. Last season's Big 12 Freshman of the Year Justin Hill will carry the load this year. 

Although the Cowboys lack in depth at running back, they have plenty of it at wide receiver. Rudolph can fully profit from his wide receiving corps if the offensive line can improve its pass protection with the help of its returning experience and another new line coach. Oklahoma State's offensive line is experienced, but they were 88th last season in sacks allowed.

Hill helps to balance out the Cowboys' offense, but most of the damage comes from its big passing plays. The Cowboys are sixth in passing yards per attempt this season. 

TCU struggled last season in allowing big passing plays. But, TCU's struggle was inevitable. Injuries forced a freshman and even a wide receiver to play expansive roles in the secondary.

TCU's secondary is currently healthy and boasts significant depth and experience. A couple of noteworthy names are seniors Nick Orr at safety and Ranthony Texada at cornerback. Orr was third in the Big 12 with 4 interceptions. He excels in recognizing offensive schemes, reacting to offensive patterns, making plays on the ball and making good decisions in coverage. Texada struggled last season while recovering from knee injuries. But he is a skilled playmaker who, like Orr, boasts the ability to read opposing patterns and make an effective break on the pass.

TCU's deep and talented secondary relies in part on its defensive line, the part of the defense with the most departures. TCU's defensive line is heading in a new direction under the imperative to get bigger. A four-star recruit, redshirt freshman Ross Blacklock is a massive 330 pounder who can engage blockers but also boasts mobility to force the quarterback's pocket to collapse. Matt Boesen achieved 6 sacks last season and is effective at the end position with his speed and explosion. Although this aspect of TCU's defense creates the most worry, so does Oklahoma State's offensive line for the Cowboys' offense.  TCU's defensive line has the size and speed to take advantage of Oklahoma State's offensive line.

TCU's defensive line paves the way for its linebacking corps to create havoc, led by leading tackler Travin Howard, who makes up for his lack of size with vision and IQ, strong instincts, and electric speed that makes him lethal in pursuit and dangerous in pass coverage. The Frogs prosper from their depth at linebacker such that they can move versatile athletes like Ty Summers to the defensive end position. Summers is a hard-hitter that typifies TCU's group of linebackers and linemen: not just fast, but also versatile and strong.

Oklahoma State's defense lacks the talent and starting experience of TCU's. They are missing their starting defensive tackles from last season, which includes their best defensive player. They return one starter at linebacker. The secondary also misses its leading tackler. All three groups miss starting experience. While some stars are still in place, adjustments in the secondary and unproven talent create worry.

Oklahoma State's defense has yet to be tested. TCU's quarterback Kenny Hill boasts a career 161 passer rating in September. He has the help of a healthy KaVontae Turpin, who boasts versatility and big-play ability, rising star Jalen Reagor who impresses with his breakaway speed, a deep group of running backs led by Darius Anderson and an experienced offensive line.

 

The Verdict

TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson, in his 16 years at TCU, had three non-winning seasons. After each one, TCU achieved 10 or more wins. TCU will benefit from staying healthy. Their edge against Oklahoma State is their well-roundedness and experience. TCU boasts formidable athletes in the passing attack but also more depth at running back. Whereas Oklahoma State lost key players in the defense, TCU retains its best athletes and boasts more experience, depth and upside from young contributors. 

A look beneath the surface reveals a match-up that is much more even than the line suggests on our NCAAF Picks:

Free NCAAF Pick: TCU +13Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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