Cyclones hoping to play spoiler in clash with Horned Frogs

Fort Worth, TX ( – The TCU Horned Frogs, ranked fourth in
the latest AP poll, continue to press for national recognition as they close
out the 2014 regular season on Saturday versus fellow Big 12 Conference
member, the Iowa State Cyclones.

Tied with both sixth-ranked Baylor and ninth-ranked Kansas State (facing off
against each other later in the day) at the top of the Big 12 standings with a
record of 7-1, the Horned Frogs are aiming to claim the conference crown.
Since losing a wild shootout against the Bears in Waco the second week of
October, 61-58, TCU has rattled off six straight victories.

The latest win for the Frogs came on Nov. 27 in a lopsided 48-10 final versus
Texas. The team has now reached 10 wins in a season for the fifth time in the
last seven seasons and ninth time in 13 campaigns under Gary Patterson.

As for the Cyclones, they are the ones who have been blown away by the
competition, winning a total of just two games against the likes of Iowa
(20-17) and Toledo (37-30). Since the victory versus the Rockets on the same
day that TCU fell to Baylor, Iowa State has dropped five straight outings. The
latest of those failed attempts came last weekend versus West Virginia, 37-24,
at home, dropping ISU to 0-8 in conference play this season.

In terms of the all-time series between these two programs, TCU has won four
of the previous five matchups. In Big 12 meetings, they’ve split a pair of
contests, with Iowa State posting a 37-23 victory over the Frogs in 2012,
while TCU rebounded with a 21-17 decision in Ames last season.

At home against the enigmatic Mountaineers, Iowa State led 21-7 in the second
quarter before everything fell apart and eventually the Cyclones absorbed the
double-digit setback. The hosts ran 11 more plays than WVU, but generated only
410 yards of offense, compared to 570 for the Mountaineers.

Quarterback Sam Richardson converted 26-of-50 passes for 275 yards and two
touchdowns, but he was also intercepted twice and sacked three times. Tad Ecby
and Aaron Wimberly both caught TD passes and the latter also scored once on
the ground as he posted a team-best 77 rushing yards.

“They brought some different pressures,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads of
the WVU defense. “When you are looking at a team that has three down linemen
and the ability to bring multiple blitzes from a lot of different places, you
identify your protection and set everything. We were good to a point and they
adjusted to that, and then we had to adjust at halftime to compensate for

Defensively, against a backup quarterback the Cyclones were unable to come up
with even a single sack and had just two tackles for loss overall, as well as
two fumble recoveries in the setback.

Sacks have been a rarity for the most part this season for the Cyclones,
although Cory Morrissey seems to have gotten the hang of it with six such
tackles, while the rest of the roster has combined for only eight sacks.
Opponents have rung up twice as many sacks (28) over the 11 games played.

Surrendering 511.4 ypg, ranking the program 120th in the nation this week, it
should come as little surprise that ISU is 113th in the FBS in points allowed
as well at 37.4 ppg.

Trying to balance the scales is Richardson with his 57.9 percent accuracy and
251.7 ypg through the air. He has tossed 18 touchdowns against eight
interceptions, with his most productive target being E.J. Bibbs with eight TDs
on 45 catches through 10 appearances, but he is still listed as questionable
for this weekend due to a knee injury.

In front of an announced crowd of more than 96,000, the Horned Frogs
completely dominated Texas as they extended their streak of consecutive games
scoring at least 30 points to 13 in a row, the longest run in the nation. All
phases of the game got involved in the scoring for TCU, beginning with
quarterback Trevone Boykin who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as
the visitors pulled away in the fourth quarter with four TDs.

“With the tradition that they have here (in Texas), it’s big for us,” Boykin
said of the statement win. “We have the chance to prove ourselves, and we try
to do that every time we go out there.”

During that final period, Josh Carraway returned an interception 33 yards for
a TD, the second defensive score by the program on the night after Terrell
Lathan brought back a fumble 40 yards for a score as well. Early on in the
meeting the TCU offense stalled prematurely, and kicker Jaden Oberkrom came to
the rescue with field goals of 42 and 29 yards.

The Frogs forced six turnovers in the contest, with two interceptions coming
from Sam Carter, while Marcus Mallet caused some major disruptions with 3.5
TFL and a forced fumble.

“I don’t know if it set the tone or not but we knew, get on and off, give our
offense more opportunities,” Carter said of the forced turnovers. “Those guys
can score at any time, so the more times they get the ball, the better they

Heading into action this week, the Horned Frogs are ranked second in the
nation in turnover margin at plus-1.64 and all of those positive miscues have
helped the offense to reach 46.1 ppg, third-best in the FBS. The defense may
not carry the same hallmark as previous Patterson groups, in terms of yards
allowed (370.7 ypg, 45th) and passing yards permitted (250.6 ypg, 92nd), but
having a dominant offense helps to cover up those deficiencies.

However, when it counts the most, the Frogs are there to shut down foes,
allowing them to convert on just 29.6 percent of their third-down attempts.
TCU is also 11th in the country in allowing first downs, so while there may be
yards to earn against the Horned Frogs, the team still minimizes the impact as
well as any squad in the country.