After a narrow win on the road against a gritty West Virginia team, TCU is in prime position to stake its claim for a spot in the College Football Playoff when the No. 7 Kansas State Wildcats come to town. Fresh off of a drubbing of Oklahoma State, Kansas State enters its roughest stretch of the season as trips to TCU, West Virginia, and Baylor all lay ahead. Here are three players to watch for both teams come Saturday night.
Curry Sexton/Tyler Lockett, Wide Receivers, Seniors
In their best performance of the season last weekend, the cornerback Kevin White and the TCU defense effectively shut down one of the most prolific wide receivers in college football in WVU’s Kevin White. This weekend, the Horned Frogs will face off against not only one top wideout, but two. The dynamic duo of Curry Sexton and Tyler Lockett rank third in the Big 12 in total receptions this season with 49 each, and they are averaging a combined 160 yards per game. TCU cornerback Kevin White wont be able to cover both Sexton and Lockett at the same time, so look for KSU quarterback Jake Waters to attack freshman cornerback Ranthony Texada early and often on Saturday.
Jake Waters, Quarterback, Senior
Last week against WVU, the TCU defense held Clint Trickett to only 162 yards through the air and just one passing touchdown. This weekend, the Frogs will face a much weaker KSU passing attack led by senior quarterback Jake Waters. Eighth in the Big 12 with 234.8 yards per game through the air, Waters is statistically the worst quarterback the Frogs have faced in conference this season. However, despite not racking up as many yards as his fellow Big 12 QB’s, Waters’ completion percentage ranks in the top four of the Big 12 and he has yet to throw an interception in Big 12 play. Waters’s consistency, combined with weapons Sexton and Lockett, will give the TCU secondary something to think about on Saturday night.
Jonathan Truman, Linebacker, Senior
A former walk-on, Jonathan Truman has established himself as a leader for the Kansas State defense and has emerged as one of the best middle linebackers in the Big 12. With 73 total tackles, Truman is third in the Big 12 for tackles just behind TCU’s Paul Dawson and Kansas’ Ben Heeney. When the passing game didn’t click against West Virginia, the running game was able to carry the TCU offense and extend drives to help keep the defense off the field. As a part of the second best run defense in the Big 12, Truman will look to plug the gaps and render the TCU running game ineffective. Although, as many other Big 12 teams can attest, inviting Trevone Boykin to beat you with his arm can be an extremely dangerous proposition.
Chris Hackett, Safety, Junior
Coming up against two of the best wide receivers in the country this weekend, the TCU cornerbacks will once again be calling on the services of safety Chris Hackett to help shut down the KSU passing game. Hackett was instrumental last week in rattling WVU quarterback Clint Trickett, and he will once again be key to the overall success of the Horned Frog defense this weekend. Cover over the top will be vital if the Kansas State wideouts beat the TCU corners, and preventing the big play at home will be a focus for Gary Patterson’s defense.
Jaden Oberkrom, Kicker, Senior
TCU fans will not soon forget Jaden Oberkrom’s game-winning field goal against the Mountaineers, especially if TCU proceeds to snag a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. In a game this weekend that will feature two stout defensive units, special teams will play a big role in ultimately deciding who comes out on top. In the Wildcats’ only loss of the season to the Auburn Tigers, KSU placekicker Jack Cantele missed a total of three field goals. Kansas State lost by only 6 points, with a 20-14 score. Those 9 points left stranded by Cantele proved crucial and ultimately cost the Wildcats a victory. Should these two vaunted defenses play to their potential, don’t be surprised to see the game come down to another game-winning field goal, just like last year’s matchup.
Trevone Boykin, Quarterback, Junior
Last week against WVU, quarterback Trevone Boykin was underwhelming and struggled to get things going offensively in arguably his worst performance of the season. Completing only 12 of his 30 passes for 166 yards, the Heisman Trophy candidate looked like a shell of himself and seemed out of his element on the road. Now back in Fort Worth and eager to make amends for his poor performance, Boykin and the TCU passing game should make a triumphant return in the most significance matchup of the season Saturday night.
After displaying an incredible amount of fortitude on the road in a harsh environment, TCU is out to prove it’s the real deal with another win against a top 10 opponent. Kansas State controls their own destiny in the Big 12, and a win against TCU would go a long way in their push for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Amon G. Carter stadium will be electric on Saturday night, and ultimately home field advantage will help propel TCU to yet another Big 12 victory.
TCU 30, KSU 21