Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: TCU Horned Frogs vs Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 2011 Poinsettia Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN Saturday 12/21/11: After playing in BCS bowls the last two years, a trip to the Poinsettia Bowl could be viewed as a major step back for the TCU football program. However, the 10-2 season for the 18th-ranked Horned Frogs wasn’t all that bad for a young team that dropped two games early in the year. In fact, TCU rebounded to with the Mountain West Conference. Wednesday night, the Horned Frogs will look to continue their surge against a Louisiana Tech team that is riding a seven-game winning streak that helped the Bulldogs (8-4) win the Western Athletic Conference title. The two conference champions will try to add to their solid seasons, and the Horned Frogs are nine-point favorites.
After being one of the top defensive teams in the country for years, the Horned Frogs became an offensive-minded team. TCU is scoring more than 41 points per game for the season, and with the Bulldogs scoring more than 30 a game themselves, a shootout is a real possibility. Both teams rank in the top 50 in terms of total yards, with the Horned Frogs relying more on the ground game and the Bulldogs relying on the pass.
The challenge for Louisiana Tech will be slowing down the multiple weapons the Horned Frogs have in the backfield. Running back Waymon James ran for more than 800 yards this year, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Running back Matthew Tucker topped 600 yards himself, scoring 11 touchdowns and averaging almost six yards per carry. Thanks to the potent running game, sophomore quarterback Casey Pachall enjoyed a successful season as starter. Pachall has thrown 24 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions.
For Louisiana Tech, the play of quarterback Colby Cameron has been crucial to the success of the Bulldogs. Since taking over as starter, the Cameron has helped the Bulldogs score almost five more points per game. He has thrown 11 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions. His main target has been receiver Quinton Patton, who has more than 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. When Cameron and Patton get in a rhythm, the Bulldogs can score points in a hurry. For a TCU defense that has been weaker than it has been in recent years, Patton could inflict some serious damage.
An X-factor for the Horned Frogs could be receiver Josh Boyce. He finished the regular season with almost 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Boyce is the top deep threat for TCU, and he was a key component in the Horned Frogs’ upset of then-undefeated Boise State. His ability to stretch the field and make explosive plays in the passing game helps keep opposing defenses honest and allows TCU to run the ball effectively.
While Pachall has been excellent in his first year as a starter, he could find life tough against an opportunistic Bulldogs’ defense. Louisiana Tech has 20 interceptions this season, and in a game that could be back and forth, a few turnovers could be the difference. If Pachall plays well, TCU has big advantage. If he struggles with turnovers, Patton and the Bulldogs could take advantage of short field to pile up points.
In the end, the Horned Frogs’ added weapons and balance on offense should help TCU control the game. TCU averages more than 200 yards per game on the ground and almost 250 yards per game through the air, and although the Bulldogs have had success creating turnovers, the Horned Frogs simply have too many ways to pick apart opposing defenses. Louisiana Tech will likely hit some big plays of its own in the passing game, but TCU has enough offensive power to pull away downt he stretch.
Prediction: TCU Horned Frogs (-9) Cover the Spread
Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: TCU -9 to cover the spread
|Poinsettia Bowl: TCU vs La Tech
Time: 8:00 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds – Favorite: TCU -9.5 Total: Over/Under 56
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