No. 23 West Birginia, TCU Battling for Big 12 Relevancy

Michael Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The Big 12 newcomers — No. 23 West Virginia and TCU — look to battle it out on Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va. in what will hope to become a time-honored tradition in the power-packed division.  The two teams have had a whirlwind of a season, pushing into the top 15, but falling back after a few lackluster performances in October, where they’ve gone a combined 2-5.

“Our group … understood the competition going into the season, and it hasn’t been any different,” Frogs head coach Gary Patterson said via Berry Tramel of  “Usually when you’re closer in competition, it’s going to be six, eight plays that are going to be the difference in the ball game.  That’s held up to be pretty true so far.”

Unfortunately for TCU, none of their recent shortcomings have been without the injuries to a few keep players, including quarterback Casey Pachall.

Meanwhile, West Virginia’s problems remain in their porous defense and a suddenly imploding offense.  In fact, quarterback Geno Smith was on cruise control in his efforts of nailing down the Heisman Trophy.  In the last three weeks, he’s been almost a non-factor with a mere three touchdowns in the last two games, which includes a ugly 49-14 loss to Texas Tech.

“I don’t remember the last time we lost two games in a row, but it’s the reality of the situation,” said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, according to the site.  “every game is going to be tough.”

Now, Smith will hope to pull West Virginia out of its two-game rut after a much needed bye week.  He’s the one vital piece the Mountaineers need to get going in order to be productive and to find that spark he had earlier in the season.  In fact, through the first five games, Smith averaged 399.2 yards per contest, including 24 touchdown passes.

He’s not alone though.  The Mountaineers defense has been less than adequate the last few weeks.  They’ve allowed an average of 39.9 points and almost 500 yards per game in the last two contests, ranking seventh-worst in the FBS in both categories.  No amount of quarterback heroics can counterbalance such a lackluster defense.

However, TCU will have appear to have its quarterback Trevone Boykin available for Saturday’s game.  It’s in good timing, considering TCU has been bounced from the Top 25 college rankings this past week.

The edge still goes to the Mountaineers, who have the luxury of preparing for the Frogs for two weeks.  And playing at home in front of a capacity crowd won’t either.

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