Struggling TCU, ISU set to collide
AMES – TCU is reeling after last week’s overtime loss at West Virginia, the third straight for a team whose Big 12 title hopes have been dashed.
Iowa State knows how the Horned Frogs feel.
The Cyclones (1-7, 0-5 Big 12) have lost their last five games – including three in a row by a combined score of 170-41 – and have already knocked themselves out of bowl eligibility.
TCU (3-6, 1-5) needs to win its last three games, starting with today’s game at Iowa State, simply to reach the postseason.
This isn’t the way either program envisioned their season going. But a win this weekend could go a long way toward finishing the year on a relative high note.
“We’re obviously not in a place where we’d like to be at this time of year. This hasn’t been a place where we’ve been in a while,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “It’s kind of a similar situation to Iowa State. Both of us have been banged up. A lot of different people have been out. At this time of year, you get a chance to play for pride.”
This could be the rare Big 12 game where points will be at a premium.
TCU is 94th in the nation with just 23.4 points a game, with Iowa State right behind the Horned Frogs at 23.1 points. But TCU should find yards and points easier to come by with a healthy Casey Pachall throwing against a struggling Cyclones defense.
Pachall had 394 yards passing in last week’s 30-27 loss to West Virginia. A hundred of those yards went to Trevone Boykin – who played quarterback when Pachall was unavailable earlier this season.
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads hasn’t announced whether Sam Richardson or Grant Rohach will start at quarterback. But it sounds like Rhoads is expecting TCU to be aggressive against whoever ends up playing.
“Like us a little they’re a corner, injured animal,” Rhoads said. “They’re going to sense blood in the water and go after it.”
Here are five things to look for as the Horned Frogs and Cyclones meet in Ames:
B.J. Catalon, TCU’s leading rusher, is injured and likely won’t play – and No. 2 tailback Waymon James has been suspended. The pair has combined for 647 yards and nine touchdowns, so the Horned Frogs won’t replace them easily.
Iowa State also has issues at running back, with senior Shontrelle Johnson listed as this week’s starter as Aaron Wimberly continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Wimberly has missed the last two weeks after being injured in a 71-7 loss to Baylor.
Still, Iowa State’s struggles on offense can be tied largely to ineffective quarterback play. The Cyclones have failed to crack 200 yards passing in four straight games, with four touchdowns and six picks in that span. Rohach is listed as the starter, but Rhoads is willing to try anything to get a boost from the game’s most important position. “Quite honestly, depending how this week flows, Sam could run out there as the starting quarterback,” Rhoads said.