There’s nothing more boring for fans than a bye week and there’s nothing more necessary for a team than a bye week.
TCU’s Tough Test at Purdue
I have no doubt that Gary Patterson will use this to his advantage on Saturday night in West Lafayette. He will be tasked with stopping an incredibly one-dimensional offense that stars Rondale Moore and Brycen Hopkins.
In their first matchup of the season, TCU’s offense got off to a sluggish start which resulted in leaving potentially 20 more points on the field despite a lopsided 39-7 victory over an inspired UAPB squad. What Frog Fans can find encouraging is that they haven’t been bitten by the injury bug (knock on wood) and the defensive question marks seem to have been answered in a positive fashion. Lakendrick Van Zandt and Keeyon Stewart made their first starts in purple as Stewart earned PFF Big 12 Team of the Week honors. Van Zandt was equally as impressive covering the short and intermediate routes as well as his gap-filling on run plays. The ability of the secondary to tackle in open space is going to be important for their matchup with Purdue on Saturday.
To that point, what we saw from the defensive line was encouraging. Purdue will trot out a slightly inexperienced and banged-up offensive line. TCU defensive end Ochaun Mathis brought his offseason praise to life with 7 tackles and 2.5 of them for a loss. Mechanically, he showed a lot of promise getting full extension on the UAPB offensive tackles on almost every play and blowing up the pullers on multiple counter plays. Something TCU is going to have to come to grips with is that Rondale is going to get around 20 touches. The offense runs through him so much so that the success of his teammates is contingent upon how much the defense keys on him. In the offseason, Frog Fans were hoping to have the QB situation figured out by this game but it doesn’t appear as though that will be necessary for TCU to be completely successful.
If I had to make a concrete prediction about this game, I would say that Purdue’s offense has success with Rondale early but eventually, the inability to run the ball will be detrimental to their efforts. I also believe that this is the game Frog Fans will look back on and say “that’s when Max Duggan won the job” as he unseats Alex Delton. The Purdue defense gave up 31 points per game last year and looks to be on pace for a similar total this year. Give me Frogs over Boilermakers 38-24.
Weaknesses exposed in Austin
Deep in the heart of Texas, the entire country was duped into thinking that UT vs. LSU would be a battle of some gritty secondaries. Both of the teams claiming to be DBU and subsequently giving up over 400 passing yards each made the “DBU” debate look more like Spongebob and Patrick each claiming to be Dirty Dan. All jokes aside, being unable to punch it into the endzone despite 8 plays within the 10 yard-line appears to have doomed the Longhorns. Keontay Ingram might have nightmares about the dropped pass in the endzone for a good while, as that would have given the Horns an early lead.
Ultimately, what won the game was LSU’s ability to get the ball to a stunning receiving corps. Joe Burrow was surgical in getting the ball to Chase, Marshall Jr., and Sullivan and could potentially be shedding the stigma of LSU being a run-first offense. Meanwhile, the Texas secondary is showing some weaknesses that they’ll need to shore up against Rice before hitting Big 12 play. If the Longhorns rush 6 as much as they did against the Tigers, they could get torched by some of the Air Raids that the Big 12 hosts.
Long road ahead for Aggies
Things aren’t looking good down in College Station right now. It’s no secret that the Aggies have the toughest schedule in college football, but there are already signs of attrition. When you play the best teams in the nation every week your squad is more likely to get banged up, but losing Jashaun Corbin for the season could spell disaster down the stretch for A&M.
The talent on this team alone should carry them to a bowl game if Kellen Mond can manage the offense, but the Aggies will have to stay healthy through the coming onslaught of #8 Auburn, #2 Alabama, #3 Georgia, and #4 LSU. As of September 9th’s AP Poll, the Aggies are going to have to play against the 4 best teams in the country. If A&M can garner experience out of these matchups and expose their youthful talent to the big stage, they could have a dangerous team in the coming years. However, this year they might just have to take some lumps and crawl into bowl season.
Now normally when you throw a bunch of talented players on a team, they don’t gel immediately and start producing. For this reason, I was reluctant to make any bold claims about SMU this offseason. In my first article on the board, I listed Reggie Roberson as a player whose numbers would be indicative of the Mustangs’ success this year, and it has rung true through 2 games. With 17 grabs for 274 yards and 2 scores, the Mustangs are 2-0 with a victory over UNT this past weekend.
Shane Buechele has looked right at home under Sonny Dykes’ new SMU squad and the ship appears to be righted. With the RB tandem of Ke’mon Freeman and Xavier Jones, the Mustangs haven’t had any issues moving the ball, putting up 86 points in 2 games. They play host to Texas State this coming weekend to sharpen their skills against the Sun Belt squad before traveling to Fort Worth to take on the Horned Frogs. After a year in the analyst room at TCU in 2017, Dykes is looking to carry some momentum back to his former place of employment and breathe some new life into a lopsided Battle for the Iron Skillet.
Other Big 12 Activity
The Big 12 continued its strong non-conference showing, aside from the aforementioned UT game and a WVU blunder at Mizzou. Austin Kendall is still trying to fit into the Mountaineer offense that was drained of its immense talent in the offseason. I believed that the bottom of the Big 12 would be compiled of three 4-8 squads between Kansas, K-State, and West Virginia. I had my opinion on WVU solidified, and my opinion on the Kansas schools shaken a bit.
After Kansas dropped a game to Coastal Carolina, they could struggle to win 3. However, it is possible for Les Miles to take a shot at one of the lower to middle tiered Big 12 schools and come out with a victory. K-State’s first two showings were very impressive, scoring over 100 points in 2 games; albeit against squads, nobody expects too much from. I will be watching very closely to see if Chris Klieman can carry the Wildcats to a bowl game, or if the non-conference success will be unsustainable and piddle out during Big 12 play.
The powers of Texas Tech, Baylor, and Oklahoma State went unbothered in their first two non-conference matchups. The Bears and Cowboys haven’t gone a game without scoring at least 50 and likely won’t until conference play, while Texas Tech has shown shades of a reformed defense. Tech has allowed 13 points in 2 games while their offense is averaging more than 40, despite shielding their playbook from their week 3 opponent Arizona. After Kevin Sumlin’s defense gave up over 40 points to Hawaii and Northern Arizona, it looks as though Texas Tech will add an exclamation point to the end of Matt Wells’ first non-conference slate at the helm in Lubbock.
Similar to TCU, Iowa State took an early bye week this weekend and will host College Gameday when the Hawkeyes come to town this weekend. There were some glaring defensive issues against Northern Iowa that could be attributed to effort and not being in playing shape. The Cyclones have a chance to smooth over their rough edges before launching their campaign as a top defense in the Big 12.
Despite some snoozers in early Big 12 non-conference play, things are starting to heat up just in time for conference play.
Featured Image Photo: Frogs O' War