West Virginia vs. TCU Odds, Picks: Can Max Duggan and Company Finish the Job? (Oct. 23)

West Virginia vs. TCU Odds, Picks: Can Max Duggan and Company Finish the Job? (Oct. 23) article feature image

Icon Sportswire/Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Evans

  • The West Virginia Mountaineers and TCU Horned Frogs play in Big 12 action Saturday night.
  • The Horned Frogs have some playmakers on offense, which could give them an advantage.
  • Check out Darin Gardner's full betting breakdown for the game below.

West Virginia vs. TCU Odds

Saturday, Oct. 23
7:30 p.m. ET
West Virginia Odds
-110o / -110u
TCU Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

This is a matchup between two teams that have had disappointing results over the first half of the season. TCU sits at .500 with a 1-2 record in conference play, including losses in three of its last four.

There have been some flashes for the Horned Frogs, but a 3-3 record after six games definitely isn't what the fans were hoping for going into the year.

On the other side, West Virginia enters this game with an 0-3 record in conference play and 2-4 overall. Outside of a six-point win over Virginia Tech in Week 3, the Mountaineers have dropped all of their other FBS matchups.

The Mountaineers are coming off a much-needed bye week after a blowout loss to Baylor the last time they took the field, and there are several units on this team that will need to take a big step forward if the Mountaineers want to salvage the season.

There's no question that the TCU offense has done its job this year, but the opposite has been true for the other side of the ball.

Will the Horned Frogs defense finally come alive against a struggling West Virginia offense, or will it continue to trip over itself?

West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia Offense

There hasn't been a major bright spot for this Mountaineer offense.

Starting on the ground, running back Leddie Brown has racked up over 2,000 yards and nearly 500 carries over his four years in Morgantown, but the rushing attack has been mediocre overall this season.

The West Virginia offense ranks 70th in Rushing Success Rate and has been held below four yards per carry in five of six games. In Big 12 play, the Mountaineers have generated 2.4, 3.5, and 2.4 yards per carry in three games.

The passing game hasn't been great, either, ranking 77th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per throw. Quarterback Jarret Doege ranks 79th at the position in PFF passing grade and hasn't taken any steps forward after an up-and-down 2020 campaign.

Overall, this is just an unspectacular offense that is mediocre on the ground and in the air. It could definitely be worse, but this group isn't striking a lot of fear into anyone.

West Virginia Defense

There's been a stark difference in the Mountaineers' ability to defend the run and the pass.

On the back end, they rank 106th in EPA per throw, and the front hasn't been able to get home against opposing quarterbacks either, ranking 116th in Pressure Rate.

The pass defense is coming off its worst performance of the season in which it allowed a whopping 11.4 yards per attempt to Baylor en route to a 45-point performance for the Bears.

While the pass defense has definitely struggled, the run defense is one area to feel good about because West Virginia ranks 31st in Rush Success Rate allowed.

On the season, the Mountaineers have had more games where they have limited opponents to fewer than three yards per carry than they have allowed opponents to run for three yards per carry or more.

The two most productive players on West Virginia have come on the defensive line.

Interior lineman Dante Stills and edge defender Taijh Alston have identical counting stats, with seven tackles for loss each. Neither has been very productive from a pass-rushing standpoint, but those two are the anchors of a West Virginia front that has been effective against the run.

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TCU Horned Frogs

TCU Offense

Entering Week 8, this TCU offense ranks sixth in the nation in EPA per play. It's gotten it done in both facets, but the big edge here will be in the passing game considering how West Virginia's secondary and pass rush have performed this season.

The Horned Frogs rank 10th in EPA per pass, and the front ranks ninth in PFF pass-blocking grade.

Quarterback Max Duggan has been a big weapon for the Horned Frogs, and his 10.4 adjusted yards per attempt rank eighth in the nation.

At receiver, Quentin Johnston and his six-foot-four frame leads the team in receiving yards after a huge game against Oklahoma, where he totaled 185 yards on seven catches with three touchdowns.

While Duggan and Johnson have performed very well this year, the highlight of the offense is sophomore running back Zach Evans. In terms of PFF rushing grade, he ranks fifth in the country, and he's averaging 4.77 yards after contact per carry, which ranks top-10 at the position as well.

Five-star recruits like Evans don't usually end up at a school like TCU, and the Horned Frogs are definitely enjoying his skill set. Going forward, it would be nice to see Evans get a heavier workload as he's averaging about 16 touches per game.

Because of Evans and an efficient run-blocking offensive line, TCU ranks 17th in EPA per carry.

TCU Defense

TCU coach Gary Patterson has always been known for his defensive prowess, but that hasn't shown on the field in 2021.

Up front, the Horned Frogs are a bottom-10 team in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and Line Yards. Looking at PFF run defense grades, TCU's starters on the defensive line have graded at 64.0, 58.6, 58.6, and 50.8 this season.

On the back end, the departure of safeties Trevon Moehrig and and Ar'Darius Washington have proven to be costly. The Horned Frogs have a talented cornerback duo of Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Noah Daniels, but Daniels has played just eight snaps on the season. However, Daniels was very close to playing last week against Oklahoma, and the hope is that he'll finally suit up this week.

While Hodges-Tomlinson's play has slipped a bit after an elite 2020 season, he's still been the biggest bright spot on this defense. Per PFF, he's allowed just nine catches on 23 targets this season and is allowing a passer rating of 29.4 when targeted.

For reference, just dropping back and chucking the ball into the 17th row on every play would result in a passer rating of 39.6. Almost everyone else on the team has struggled in coverage, but a fully healthy duo of THT and Daniels would be a big boost for this secondary.

West Virginia vs. TCU Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how West Virginia and TCU match up statistically:

West Virginia Offense vs. TCU Defense
Rush Success70124
Line Yards91126
Pass Success64102
Pass Blocking**6064
Big Play38104
Finishing Drives36113
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

TCU Offense vs. West Virginia Defense
Rush Success2631
Line Yards3516
Pass Success4780
Pass Blocking**899
Big Play1752
Finishing Drives4937
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling8124
Middle 81361
SP+ Special Teams6659
Plays per Minute9489
Rush Rate49.8% (96)61.7% (26)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

West Virginia vs. TCU Betting Pick

There hasn't been a ton of back-and-forth on this total throughout the week as it's stayed between four and five since the opener.

From a matchup perspective, this TCU offense is in store for yet another big day against this Mountaineer defense. While West Virginia has held its own against the run, TCU should still have the advantage there, but the significant edge will be in the passing game.

TCU's offensive line should have a lot of success against a pass rush that has been unable to get home this season, and West Virginia's coverage unit has arguably been the weakest area on the team.

Personally, I project the home team as a favorite of more than a touchdown here.

TCU's offense is comfortably the best unit on the field in this game, and while the Frogs' defense has been shaky, West Virginia hasn't been anything close to a world-beater on offense.

Pick: TCU -4.5

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