By Mickey Furfari
West Virginia hopes to avert a fourth straight defeat on Saturday in a Big 12 football game against Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Tex.
But the Horned Frogs (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) are 14-point favorites to turn back the Mountaineers (3-5, 1-4) in the 3:30 p.m. clash. ESPNU will televise the action.
While third-year head coach Dana Holgorsen continues to insist that his team shows steady improvement, the fact remains that the Mountaineers lack consistency, and going into game No. 9 continue to blow late leads in winnable contests.
The Mountaineers unexplainably succumbed in fourth-quarter finishes. Hopefully, they can overcome that and upset TCU. Their last conference win came against heavily favored Oklahoma State 30-21 on Sept. 28 at home.
West Virginia faces two TCU quarterbacks who split time, just as it faced in earlier encounters. Those are senior Casey Pachall and sophomore Trevor Boykin.
“They obviously are going to play two different quarterbacks,” Holgorsen said. “I think everyone in the conference is dealing with the same kinds of things. With Kansas State, their offense was a little different based on which QB was in.
“That’s not necessarily the case with TCU. Whichever quarterback is in there, they typically do the same things.”
However, Holgorsen noted that the Horned Frogs have three really good running backs and have nine starters on a strong defensive unit from last season’s team. TCU eked out a 39-38 win in two overtime periods against WVU here a year ago.
Clint Trickett is expected to be the starting quarterback for the Mountaineers again. In five games, he has completed 75 of 151 passes for 951 yards and three touchdowns. He has three interceptions.
Running back Charles Sims is the leading rusher with a net 600 yards on 120 carries and four TDs in eight games. He’s also the top receiver with 33 receptions for 265 yards and one score.
However, receiver Daikiel Shorts has more yards (332) on two fewer catches (31) and he has two TDs.
Junior linebacker Jared Barber and senior safety Darwin Cook are WVU’s top tacklers with 51 each. Barber has 34 solo stops and 17 assists, Cook 44 unassisted and 7 assists.
Cook also has a team-high six pass interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Here is a comparison of the season’s statistical states for this series that’s tied 1-1:
Scoring offense — WVU 22.9 points per game, TCU 23.0 ppg.
First downs — WVU 162, TCU 128.
Rushing offense — WVU 146.4 yards per game, TCU 127.4 ypg.
Passing offense — WVU 248.8 yards per game, TCU 192.4 ypg.
Total offense — WVU 395.1 yards per game, TCU 319.8 ypg.
So it appears that the Mountaineers have a slight edge in virtually every category. Yet the oddsmakers have WVU a two-touchdown underdog.
How do you figure?