AMES, Iowa (AP) – TCU has been defined by its resilience.
With another road win at Iowa State on Saturday, the third-ranked Horned Frogs would head into their bye week having survived a very tough stretch unscathed.
TCU (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) will play a Power Five opponent away from Fort Worth for the fourth time when they face the Cyclones (2-3, 1-1).
The 6 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN2.
The Horned Frogs’ first two road games in league play have been way too close for coach Gary Patterson’s comfort. They beat Texas Tech 55-52 on a last-second TD pass and rallied from 18 down to stun Kansas State 52-45 last week.
“You’ve got to find ways to win. That’s what good programs do. They just find ways to win. Some days it’s not pretty. Some days it is,” Patterson said.
The Cyclones (2-3, 1-1) might not present such a tough challenge though.
Iowa State took a major step back last week in a 66-31 loss to Texas Tech. The Cyclones allowed the Red Raiders to gain a school record 776 yards, and senior quarterback Sam Richardson threw three interceptions.
Still, Iowa State has been waiting for its shot at TCU ever since the Horned Frogs embarrassed them 55-3 in last season’s finale.
Here are some of the key things to consider as the playoff-hungry Horned Frogs look to avoid a cataclysmic upset in Ames.
BAD, BAD BOYKIN: Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads didn’t sugarcoat the challenge TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin presents to his suddenly beleaguered defense. Rhoads opened his weekly press conference by throwing bouquets Boykin’s way, saying that the senior “could be people’s tailback. He could be a starting wide receiver, and certainly is a Heisman Trophy-worthy quarterback.” Boykin’s 11,059 yards of career total offense are by far the most of any active quarterback in the country.
OH MIKE: The highlight of Iowa State’s season has been the emergence of freshman running back Mike Warren. He ran for 245 yards against the Red Raiders, the most any freshman in the country has run for so far. But Warren also showed his youth to reporters Monday with a nonchalant response about what he thought of TCU. “I heard that their run defense is a little shaky, and I think that’s a big plus for me because I think I can probably have like another great performance,” Warren said. The Horned Frogs are sixth in the Big 12 in rushing defense, though their 16 touchdowns rushing allowed is second-worst in the league.
ONE FINE DOC: Boykin’s tremendous season has somewhat overshadowed the fantastic year that fellow senior Josh Doctson is having. Doctson has 50 receptions, third-best nationally, and he’s second with 877 yards and 10 touchdowns.
MATCHUP ISSUE? If there’s one area where Iowa State might have an advantage, it’s with the height of its wide receivers. Starters D’Vario Montgomery and Allen Lazard are 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-5, respectively, while TCU cornerbacks Corry O’Meally and Nick Orr are just 6-foot and 5-foot-10. The Cyclones also have five other wideouts on their depth chart who are taller than any of the Horned Frogs’ backs. Iowa State spreads the ball around, too, with five guys already with at 13 catches. The Cyclones “have a couple mismatches for us. So you’ve got to play the run better,” Patterson said.
WHAT A NUMBER: According to the Big 12, FBS teams were 241-0 when holding a lead of at least 18 points in the second half. They were 241-1 after Boykin found Doctson for a 55-yard TD pass with 1:10 left last week at K-State.