This week’s schedule in the Big 12 features a pair of fierce rivals that are both growing desperate for a win to keep their bowl hopes alive as the TCU Horned Frogs battle the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Kickoff is set for noon EST on Saturday, November 16 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. Fans can catch all of the action on ESPN2.
Based on the Week 12 college football odds, the Horned Frogs are 3-point favorites on the road. There is also an over/under of 55.5 points.
TCU was painfully close to pulling off an upset of Baylor last week. However, the Bears nailed a late field goal to force overtime and outlasted the Horned Frogs over three overtime sessions. As a result, the Horned Frogs have lost four of their last five games with only an upset win over Texas keeping them from a five-game losing skid. Gary Patterson has an almost impeccable record for getting TCU to a bowl game every year. The Horned Frogs have gone without a postseason game just twice in Patterson’s 20 years at the school.
However, with their 4-5 record, TCU is in jeopardy of missing a bowl game this year. Keep in mind that the Horned Frogs still have to go to Oklahoma next week. Barring an upset in that game, both this week’s game against Texas Tech and their season finale with West Virginia should be considered must-win games for TCU.
Texas Tech’s situation isn’t all that different. The Red Raiders found some life last week, knocking off West Virginia 38-17 on the road to snap a three-game losing streak. However, Texas Tech has still lost five of their last six, dropping them to 4-5 on the season and 2-4 in Big 12 play, identical to TCU’s record.
The problem for Matt Wells in his first season in Lubbock is that the Red Raiders have a pair of ranked teams in Kansas State and Texas still on their schedule. Even with a win this week, Texas Tech would still need to produce an upset win over one of those teams to become bowl eligible.
In other words, this week’s game is a must-win for both teams. The winner still isn’t guaranteed a bowl bid, but it’s hard to fathom the loser getting to six wins. On top of all that, TCU and Texas Tech are each other’s biggest rival with the Saddle Trophy on the line each time they meet. The Red Raiders have a slight lead in the all-time series, including four wins in the seven games they’ve played since TCU joined the Big 12. However, the road team has won five of those seven games, including four in a row. That means the Horned Frogs have won in their last two trips to Lubbock.
Despite the recent success of road teams in this rivalry, I have a hard time buying TCU as road favorites in this game. The desperation for a win is awash in this game, which is pushing me toward the home team, especially as the underdog. I’m not sure either team is good enough to run away and win this game comfortably. That makes me feel better about my chances with the underdog against the spread.
The TCU offense has been too inconsistent this season for me to trust them as a road favorite. Keep in mind they had just nine points against Baylor last week before playing three overtimes. To be fair, Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua give the Horned Frogs a solid backfield tandem and steady rushing attack. You also have to like the moxie freshman quarterback Max Duggan has displayed this season.
That being said, Duggan is still a young quarterback who makes youthful mistakes. Plus, on the season, he’s completed just 56% of his passes. More importantly, he’s thrown three interceptions in back-to-back games. One of his biggest assets is that he’s able to scramble and make plays with his legs. But he also takes a lot of hits and tries to do too much at times. I worry about him making one too many freshmen mistakes while playing a rivalry game on the road in a must-win situation.
Meanwhile, I’m a little more comfortable banking on Texas Tech quarterback Jett Duffey, even if he started the season as a backup. Duffey is also a mobile quarterback with a solid backfield to support him with SaRodorick Thompson and Ta’Zhawn Henry. Duffey has also done a good job of valuing the football, throwing just two interceptions this season. In fact, he’s gone three straight games without an interception and has a completion percentage close to 69%. I also think the Red Raiders have a few more playmakers at wide receiver, giving their passing attack more upside than the TCU passing game.
In the end, the Texas Tech offense is a little more reliable than the TCU offense. I also think a rather mediocre Texas Tech defense can feed off the home crowd enough to come up with some stops or force a couple of turnovers. That should be enough to push the Red Raiders over the finish line and get them a win.