After yet another impressive win against the No. 7 Kansas State Wildcats last week, the Horned Frogs have broken into the top four of the College Football Playoff Rankings released Tuesday night. Entering their easiest stretch of the season, first up for the Frogs is a trip to Lawrence, Kansas to take on a Jayhawk team that earned its first Big 12 win of the season against Iowa State last weekend. Here are three things to watch for both teams on Saturday.
Ben Heeney, Linebacker, Senior
The undisputed leader of the Kansas football team, Ben Heeney not only leads the Jayhawks in tackles this season, but also the Big 12. With 101 total tackles through nine games, Heeney is averaging 11 tackles per game and currently leads the conference in total tackles. While there is no faulting the play of Heeney this season, the KU defense has struggled to keep teams out of the end zone and KU currently sits second to last in the Big 12 standings just ahead of Iowa State. If Kansas is going to have any hope of pulling off the upset this weekend, the rest of the defense is going to have to rise to Heeney’s level and hope to contain the potent TCU offense.
Corey Avery, Running Back, First-year student
While the much maligned Kansas offense has seemed hopeless for most of the season, freshman running back Corey Avery has given the Jayhawks a reason to be hopeful for the future of the program. Tenth in the Big 12 in rushing this season, Avery is averaging 60 yards per game on the ground with four touchdowns this season, respectable numbers for a true freshman in his first season of Big 12 football. Ranked the 35th best running back in the national Class of 2014 by ESPN, Avery was undoubtedly Kansas’s top recruit and he has certainly not disappointed. Avery will have to produce a breakout game on Saturday if the Jayhawks are to keep pace with the TCU offense.
Clint Bowen, Interim Head Coach
After only four games into the 2014 season, Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis was fired after just two full seasons in charge of the Jayhawks football program. During his time in charge, Weis won a total of 6 games, and only one Big 12 contest. After last week’s victory over Iowa State, Bowen has just as many Big 12 victories as Weis did before his termination. Through Bowen’s first five games in charge, the Jayhawks have steadily improved each week, the only hiccup being a 60-7 thrashing at the hands of the Baylor Bears in Week 8. If the Jayhawks can keep it remotely close against the Frogs on Saturday, Bowen could help further his case to remove his interim tag at the end of this season.
David Porter, Wide Receiver, Senior
In the absence of the injured Deante Gray last week against Kansas State, David Porter stepped up when it mattered most in arguably the biggest game of the season. Porter led the Frogs last weekend with 7 receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. While most of the damage on offense last weekend was done on the ground by Aaron Green and Trevone Boykin, Porter was a receiving threat all night long. While it is unclear if Gray will return against KU this weekend, it is possible that Porter will once again be featured prominently on Saturday.
Aaron Green, Junior, Running Back
In a breakout game against Kansas State last weekend, Aaron Green rushed for 171 yards on 18 carries. His only touchdown of the game, a 65 yard sideline-to-sideline highlight reel run, effectively put the game out of reach for the Wildcats late in the third quarter. With B.J. Catalon out after an injury in the West Virginia game, Aaron Green shouldered the majority of the carries on Saturday and was instrumental in last weekends triumph over KSU. With Catalon unlikely to be risked this weekend, look for Green to continue his fantastic string of performances against a mediocre KU defense.
Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, Co-Offensive Coordinators
When Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie arrived at TCU at the end of the 2013 season, they were tasked with turning around a stagnant offense that seemed to lack any sort of bite or menace. In only a few short months with the program, Meacham and Cumbie have assembled one of the most explosive offenses in the country, all centered around a quarterback who spent time at wide receiver last season. With TCU sitting pretty in the CFP polls and in control of their own destiny, it has become clear just how indispensable Meacham and Cumbie are to TCU’s success.
It’s no secret that Kansas is one of the worst teams in the Big 12, and even after their win against the Cyclones a week ago, it would appear that the KU football program is still very much in transition. On the other side, TCU has finally achieved its goal of breaking into the CFP top four, and is now tasked with finishing the season strong and cementing that position. Much like the game against Texas Tech two weeks ago, if the Jayhawks aren’t careful, Saturday’s game could get ugly early. TCU 55, KU 14