The more I see of TCU, and the more I research this game, the more I think that BYU will win, IF the Cougars can keep TCU's offense off the field--at least, for more time than they're used to spending on the sidelines.
The Horned Frogs have gaudy defensive numbers, and those stats have been well-earned, but TCU has been equally effective on offense, despite the lack of obviously eye-popping numbers.
Although they possess impressive team speed, the Frogs are neither flashy nor particularly explosive--but TCU leads the nation in time of possession, and while the value of this stat can be debated, TCU has been owning the football and controlling play.
TCU has the ball for an average of 36:32, to the opponent's 23:28. And while it's true that some teams don't need a lot of time to score and win games, the Frogs are dangerous because they dominate possession time AND score a lot--almost always finish long drives with scores.
TCU has had 13 scoring drives of 4 minutes or longer; 8 scoring drives of 5 minutes or longer; 4 scoring drives of 7 minutes or longer. The Frogs also have 11 scoring drives of 10 plays or longer.
But this number blows me away: TCU has run 171 more plays than its opponents this season, averaging 79.9 snaps per game to 55.4 for the opposition--a difference of almost 25 plays per game!. By comparison, BYU has run only 22 more plays than its opponents (a per game average 70.3 to 66.7).
Of course, it's points and not plays that will determine the outcome, but if BYU runs only 55 plays on Thursday, I don't like the Cougars' chances.
Conversely, while BYU's opponents have held the ball for a reasonably long time and run a respectable number of plays, the Cougars excel at preventing those drives and plays from turning into points. The Frogs' ability to control the ball and the Cougars' ability to keep teams out of the end zone creates a fascinating matchup.
I spoke with BYU Baskebtall recruit and Provo High School star Brandon Davies this morning--you can hear our interview by clicking on the audio link in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the right.
Reminder: tonight's Bronco Mendenhall Show is on a special night, and will be live at Ken Garff Ford in American Fork (just off the freeway at exit 276), starting at 7:00pm. Iceberg Drive-Inns will be on hand with free burgers, dogs, drinks and chips. See you there!