TCU to Knock the Wind out of Cyclones

TCU Horned Frogs

Rainman M.

Thursday, October 26, 2017 1:02 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 1:02 PM GMT

TCU can make Iowa State one-dimensional on offense, which is precisely what the Cyclones don't want. #25 Iowa State (5-2) hosts #4 TCU (7-0) this Saturday at 3:30 PM ET. 

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Free NCAAF Pick: TCU -6.5Best Line Offered: at Heritage

Gary Patterson's TCU defense regularly employs 5 defensive backs, including two deep safeties to prevent the deep ball. Despite the emphasis on safe coverage, the Frogs rank 5th in allowing 90 rush yards per game, 4th in allowing 2.8 yards per rush attempt. They held Kansas State's lethal rush attack, which averages 201 yards per game, to 70 yards. TCU is favored by 6.5 on Saturday's game.

Patterson positions his defensive linemen out wide. While freshman defensive tackle Ross Blacklock has made an immediate impact with his massive size and strength in controlling the interior, the linebackers help plug the interior gaps or, with the defensive ends, force the running back out wide for long enough time to allow the run-supporting secondary to stop the run.

The Cyclones, who rank 86th with 3.8 yards per rush, are mismatched on the ground. When they faced Patterson's defense last season, they were determined to run. But their 47 rush attempts only brought them 2.9 yards per carry. If they try to pass, their ATS record with 40+ passes bodes disaster.

Without being able to run the ball, the Cyclones will struggle to control time of possession. Against power 5 schools, when they possess the ball for no fewer than 2 minutes than the opponent, they are 3-0 ATS. When their opponent has 2+ minutes more time of possession than them, they are 0-2 ATS. The Cyclones' lack of consistent rush attack makes time of possession difficult for them to maintain. They rank 97th with 31:36 time of possession per game.

Protection will be lacking from the Cyclones' offensive line, which since the offseason is plagued by lack of experience, position shuffling, and unproven ability among both starters and backups. TCU's size and speed on the defensive line allows fewer bodies to control the run, while the likes of linebacker Travin Howard and safety Nick Orr provide support.

Iowa State's offense wants to be more conservative with Kyle Kempt at quarterback, as their game plan against Texas Tech and even a Kansas defense that ranks outside the top 100 in pass yards allowed per completion shows.  This conservativeness plays into the hands of TCU's normal defensive alignment.

Iowa State's defense enjoys high rankings but is largely untested. They would never have contained Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield in the second half if Mayfield had not constantly held onto the ball in order to wait for big plays to develop. TCU's Kenny Hill, contrary to Mayfield, is inclined to the short passing game.

The Cyclones lack the personnel to handle TCU's agility. They tried to compensate for their lack of speed by shifting to a 4-3-4 scheme. But TCU's playmakers, with the help of Hill and their physical blockers, well-sized especially on the right side, can find open space and navigate it with their elusiveness and breakaway speed.  Particularly running back Darius Anderson and wide receiver KaVontae Turpin present a mismatch for Iowa State's linebackers.

 The Verdict

On our NCAAF Picks, Iowa State has lost 10 home games in a row SU after winning its last home game. In order to cover, TCU can keep the Cyclones one-dimensional on offense. Offensively, they can wear down the Cyclones with the physicality of their blockers and speed of their playmakers.

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