Success in Ft. Worth Could Mean AP Recognition

As of this morning, the WVU @ TCU matchup spread this weekend has grown to 12.5 points. Road dogging to Fort Worth is never easy, and Neal Brown has yet to defeat Sonny Dykes coaching the Horned Frogs. Yet, for all the growing separation and the chatter about the game this weekend, it is difficult not to see the matchup as an opportunity for a valid signature win in the Neal Brown era. This is one of the games that WVU has never been picked to win, and the closer the game gets, the less likely Vegas seems to believe it will happen. This is the time to make your statement.

Can the Mountaineers go on the road and beat TCU? Yes. Colorado has already done it. We can play ring around the conferences and say Colorado beats TCU, Oregon beats Colorado, Texas Tech goes the distance with Oregon, we beat Texas Tech. Therefore, Oregon > WVU > TTU > Colorado > TCU. Now, does that actually make TCU an easy mark? Not at all.

The Horned Frogs didn’t get embarrassed in their season opener; Colorado pretty much snuck one by them. They are a handful of plays away from being undefeated, and their squad is every bit as dangerous as they were a year ago under the right circumstances. Chandler Morris was the starter before the injury early last season, so by rights, he’s a better QB than Max Duggan was in the 2022 season. The Horned Frogs can light up the scoreboard with:

  • Emani Bailey, who is averaging 120 yards on the ground per game
  • Chandler Morris, who has so far rushed for 184 yards
  • Morris also has a nearly 70% completion rate for 1,121 yards
  • Four different receivers that have more than 11 targets through the year

As formidable and productive as that offense has been, you can also look at the Texas Tech Red Raiders offense through the first three games before playing the Mountaineers to see that:

  • After the end of week three, TTU had 815 passing yards and 488 yards rushing for 1,303 total offensive yards.
  • Morton might be the backup, but he is likely the most experienced backup for any of the Big 12 teams, given his number of starts as a Red Raider.
  • We held a team averaging 271 yards in the air to 161 in the most recent game against Tech. TCU currently averages 292 yards per game in the air against at least two teams hard-pressed to stop the passing attack in Houston and Nicholls State.

Victory is possible, but it will require West Virginia to do three things:

  1. Win the Trench Battle

Emani Bailey is a force to be reckoned with, and it will take a lot of muscle to keep him contained – which will sometimes fail. You will not smother this running attack entirely, but you can win the battles up front to stay disruptive. If they get behind on points, they must rely on an air attack to maximize available time. The better we can manage the rushing without the secondary having to check down to ensure runners don’t break into the second level of the defense, the longer of a day this will be for the Horned Frogs.

  1. Get Morris Off Time

One of the glaring red flags about the Horned Frogs offense is how many turnovers they have allowed through their first four games. The Frogs have thrown four interceptions and fumbled four times, losing two to their opponents. If you want to win the game, we must do what we’ve been doing the past two weeks – wreak havoc in the backfield and get the QB to make a bad read. Winning the turnover war will pave an easier path to a positive plane ride back to the airstrip in Clarksburg.

  1. Good Hands Football

If there was a time for the receiving corps to come alive and show that we are more than a one-dimensional offense, this is the week. A few good touches could push some of the roster out into the forefront as our playmakers to watch. Reach out and claim it, whoever you are.

The West Virginia Mountaineers are no strangers to being underdogs. Picked to finish last in the conference and favored in no game we’ve played so far except the FCS opponent, the only thing the team can do is head out to Fort Worth and make them believe. If you beat TCU on the road in this upset, you might not end up on the AP Poll, but you’d be in the conversation. So far, we’ve NEVER been in the conversation for ranking, and that would be climbing, folks.

Photo Credit: WVU Athletics

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Benjamin Gilbert
Benjamin Gilbert here - panhandle resident and enjoyer of Pitt losses. First and foremost, I am a lifelong West Virginia Mountaineer fan and do my best to inspire that passion in my beautiful wife and talented kids. Unfortunately, fandom doesn't always pay the bills. I have been writing for a decade and a half for various professions and multi-faceted franchises, so writing is what I do. Combining my skills with my passion for the WVU teams, I always seek to provide fair and honest takes on our path to finding the top of college athletics. Let's Go.