#10 Texas Christian (4-0) opens up their conference schedule on the road at the Air Force Academy (3-2, 2-0). TCU is the only undefeated team in the Mountain West and will have a target on their back all year through league play as the team to beat. Air Force is coming of a tough overtime loss to Navy last week.
The Horned Frogs have yet to put together a full game on offense against a FBS opponent. They have done enough to win but to grab a BCS Bowl they will need to step it up. TCU QB Andy Dalton is leading the MWC in completion percentage at 68.1 and Rating. His favorite targets are WR's Bart Johnson, 16 catches for 163 yards, and Jeremy Kerley who has 13 catches for 163 yards. They should be able to exploit the Air Force secondary with their athleticism. Kerley is also dangerous in the return game, evident by last weeks punt return for a touchdown.
In the running game Dalton will tuck it and run, 153 yards on the year. RB Joseph Turner leads the Horned Frogs with 5 touchdowns and 299 yards. Their offensive line will need to use their size to wear down the Falcons D line. Later in the game it will come in handy to control the clock and the ball.
On defense TCU looks like the MWC dominate unit so far. They are first in the conference in yards allowed per play and yards against per game. Against the run the Horned Frogs have only allowed 47 yards a game and a 1.76 yard per carry against. This is huge as the Air Force is a triple option offense and rely on the run to score points and move the ball.
For the Falcons they look to get QB Tim Jefferson healthy who was playing on a tender ankle against Navy and was out for a couple series when he reinjured it. That injury was apart of the reason the Falcons only ran for 183 yards last week, a season low. Top running backs Jared Tew, Asher Clark, and Savier Stephens will have a tough task running against the TCU defense. Jefferson will have to go to the air and be effective doing so for the Falcons to keep the game close.
On defense the Falcons will have to deal with fatigue later in the game playing against a bigger TCU team. Turnovers could be their biggest friend in the game, they lead the MWC in turnover margin at +2.6 turnovers a game. It would be huge for the Falcons if they could provide their offense with a short field to score against the tough TCU defense.
This is a big game for both teams. The Falcons are 2-0 in league already but its only going to get tougher. Any home game against a top team is your best chance to steal a game. For TCU they are the top ranked team in the MWC and will have to fight their way through the league over the next 8 weeks. Starting that battle on the road against Air Force is no easy task.
TCU Wins if: That defense plays tough against the run and forces Air Force to pass. Dalton and the offense should be able to score enough as long as they hold on to the ball.
Air Force wins if: They force turnovers and more specifically turnovers deep in TCU territory. Every point is huge in a game against TCU so they will need to force them to kick field goals instead of giving up touchdowns. A healthy Tim Jefferson could go along way also.
Prediction: TCU wins 17-6