BYU vs. TCU: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction
Oct 13, 2023, 7:00 PM
FORT WORTH, Texas – BYU vs TCU, an old Mountain West and WAC rivalry, gets renewed in a third league. This time, it’s in the Big 12 Conference.
It’s the first time these two programs are going up against each other since the 2011 season. That was BYU’s first as an Independent and TCU’s last in the Mountain West.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) October 13, 2023
TCU leads the all-time series 6-5. The Horned Frogs have won the last four meetings between the two schools.
BYU comes into the game with a 4-1 overall record, 1-1 in the Big 12 and is refreshed after an early bye a week ago. Meanwhile, TCU’s backs are against the wall at the moment.
The Horned Frogs came into the season with high expectations after a National Championship Game appearance a season ago. Those thin margins that bounced their way last year are going against them this season. TCU has lost their previous two games and is 3-3 overall, 1-2 in Big 12 action.
TCU will host its annual Homecoming festivities at Amon G. Carter here in Ft. Worth.
BYU vs TCU
Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (MDT)
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended pregame begins at 11 a.m.
It’s time for the 3-2-1 game preview for BYU’s week seven matchup against the TCU Horned Frogs.
Three Game Day Thoughts
#1 High praise for how BYU practiced this week
There’s a good vibe from BYU coming into this game. BYU captain and star defensive end Tyler Batty told KSL Sports in his weekly Cougar Tracks appearance that the team had “possibly its best week of practice this season.”
During last week’s bye, they were physical from Monday to Wednesday, then gave players a four-day break. They returned to action this week with an intensity that players and coaches have praised.
The sense I get around the program is that everyone is happy to be 4-1 and have their Big 12 goals in front of them. But at the same time, there’s an understanding they have to get a lot better because the way they’ve played in some wins (Arkansas, Cincinnati) is not conducive to long-term success with the seven-game gauntlet they have in front of them.
As Kalani Sitake said on the KSL Sports Zone earlier this week, this matchup with TCU is a measuring stick opportunity. If BYU gets this game, they could be a disruptor in a Big 12 title race that looks like Oklahoma, Texas, and no one else.
We will see if the good vibes from practice carry over here in Ft. Worth.
#2 Feels like Kedon Slovis is being slept on this week
There has been much chatter about BYU quarterback Kedon Slovis heading into this matchup. But it’s another big game for the former Pitt and USC signal-caller.
He probably won’t mind laying low. Slovis is a big reason why BYU is 4-1 through the first five games this year. But like many aspects of this BYU team, Slovis has areas where he could improve. The completion percentage is probably an area where there needs to be improvement. Slovis is only completing 59.4% of his passes so far.
𝑮𝑨𝑴𝑬 𝑵𝑶𝑻𝑬𝑺 📝 – TCU pic.twitter.com/U4kGvlF8iK
— BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) October 12, 2023
It will be tough to improve those numbers as TCU has a veteran secondary led by Josh Newton and Bud Clark. The difference could be upfront with the offensive line. If BYU’s big guys in the trenches give Slovis time, he’s throwing near 65% when kept clean this season.
The great thing about BYU having Slovis as their signal-caller is that he doesn’t get fazed by these big opportunities on the road. He’s played in so many big Power Five games in his career that I would expect he will be calm and collected against the Horned Frogs who have improved on defense this year.
#3 BYU needs a TD on defense or special teams again
During the win against Cincinnati, BYU’s defense came up with a pick-six from cornerback Jakob Robinson. Then on special teams, the long snapper Austin Riggs recovered a muffed Bearcat punt to set up an easy score.
BYU is capable of defeating TCU without those things. But to get that coveted Big 12 road win, it feels like a game where it’s needed. If it happens, it could take all of the excitement away from TCU fans who are unloading their tickets at an alarming rate and are on edge with this Horned Frogs squad.
TCU has also proven to be vulnerable to having kicks blocked. They’ve had issues with their special teams in the last three games. It’s an area to watch on Saturday afternoon.
Two BYU vs TCU Questions
#1 Jeff Ballard 2.0?
When BYU hosted Mountain West newcomer TCU in 2005, Horned Frogs starter Tye Gunn went down with an injury. BYU looked set to cruise to victory over the shorthanded TCU squad led by Gary Patterson.
Backup QB Jeff Ballard stepped in, passed for 125 yards and led TCU to a 51-50 overtime victory.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) October 12, 2023
Is that going to happen again on Saturday?
TCU’s backup this week, Josh Hoover, has had an entire week to prepare for this moment. He steps in for Chandler Morris, who suffered an MCL injury in the loss at Iowa State.
You could tell near the end of Hoover’s performance against ISU he was starting to feel comfortable. Then you watch his old high school highlights on HUDL, and there’s no question he throws a nice football, especially on deep passes.
TCU has their top deep-threat receiver back this week in Jaylon Robinson.
BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill doesn’t feel TCU’s up-tempo attack will change drastically with Hoover. But there’s always that element of the team jumping out of a slump to rally around the new guy.
It worked for Jeff Ballard.
#2 Will we see Aidan Robbins?
BYU running back Aidan Robbins was around practice this week. He was padded up as he walked off the practice field. BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick when asked about Robbins said he wasn’t sure if Robbins could go or not. But he didn’t rule it out entirely.
#BYU WR Kody Epps is going to play this week against TCU, per Aaron Roderick.
Parker Kingston is expected to play again. He got snaps against Cincy.
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) October 11, 2023
BYU needs a spark in the ground attack as they come into this matchup boasting the 129th rushing attack in college football.
LJ Martin has done a good job for being a freshman and his potential is endless. BYU also likes the sudden emergence of Miles Davis after giving quality reps in the Cincinnati win. But Robbins is the ball carrier that rounds out the group to reach the lofty heights many envisioned for this running back unit coming into the season.
One Score Prediction for BYU vs TCU
I’m calling for BYU to pull the upset against TCU. BYU has been a resilient team this season and despite some notable injuries, they still have the depth to withstand some personnel losses.
A win would also silence the claims of being vampires from the struggles in day games over the past four seasons.
The difference here in a game that’s close like this one will be the turnovers. TCU running back Emani Bailey will have his moments of success. You can’t contain one of the nation’s best running backs for an entire game. But the BYU front seven will do enough to keep him from going off for a big day. Plus, I think they will create enough pressure to give Hoover headaches.
BYU 31, TCU 24
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.
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