Matchups: Frogs’ spirit to carry them to victory against Utes

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    Quarterbacks

    TCU: Sophomore Andy Dalton continues to shine since returning from injury and is making a run at all-conference quarterback recognition. In his last three games, he has completed 44 of his 70 pass attempts, thrown for 655 yards and has nine touchdown passes compared to zero interceptions. Expect his hot streak to continue.

    Utah: Senior Brian Johnson recorded his 22nd win last week against the University of New Mexico, setting a new school record. Johnson has completed 160 of his 240 passes, thrown for 1,820 yards and has 14 touchdown passes compared to eight interceptions.

    Advantage: TCU

    Running Backs

    TCU: Senior Aaron Brown led the Frogs in rushing last week with 60 yards on nine carries and passed Mike Luttrell (72-74) for 10th place on TCU’s all-time rushers list with 2,343 yards. The Frogs have the No. 12 rushing offense in the nation, averaging 224 yards on the ground per game.

    Utah: The Utes have been using a two-headed rushing attack so far this season, with junior Matt Asiata carrying 102 times and senior Darrell Mack toting the rock 101 times. Asiata leads the team with 531 yards and nine touchdowns.

    Advantage: TCU

    Wide Receivers

    TCU: Sophomore Jimmy Young recorded his fifth receiving touchdown of the season last week against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, making it three straight games that he has at least one touchdown grab. Young leads the team with 43 grabs and 729 yards.

    Utah: The Utes have another two-headed monster at the wide receiver position. Senior wide outs Freddie Brown and Brandon Godfrey each have 37 catches through nine games. Brown leads the team with 463 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

    Advantage: Utah

    Offensive Line

    TCU: The front line for the Frogs has been exceptional all season, paving the way for that No. 12 rushing attack and keeping Dalton on his feet, allowing just four sacks over the last five games. Senior center Blake Schlueter has started in 17 straight games.

    Utah: The Utes offensive line has also played well, helping the team accumulate 405.3 yards of offense per game so far this season. Senior right guard Robert Conley has played in 46 of the team’s last 47 games and has recorded 23 pancake blocks.

    Advantage: TCU

    Defensive Line

    TCU: The defensive line for the Frogs is one of, if not the best, in the nation. It is the main reason TCU has the most sacks in the nation with 38 and the No. 1 rushing defense in the nation, allowing 38.9 yards per game. Junior defensive end Jerry Hughes leads the nation with 14 sacks.

    Utah: The Utes’ rush defense is one of few comparable to TCU’s, ranked No. 8 in the nation at 89.6 yards per game. Sophomore defensive end Paul Kruger has 47 tackles, 14.5 for loss, and 6.5 sacks.

    Advantage: TCU

    Linebackers

    TCU: Very similar to the defensive line, the linebacker corps for the Frogs is one of the best in the country and is a major reason TCU has the No. 2 total defense, allowing 214.5 yards per game. Senior linebacker Robert Henson recorded four tackles last week, 2.5 for a loss, and had an interception.

    Utah: The Utes’ total defense is also comparable to TCU’s with the No. 8 total defense, allowing 266.2 yards per game. Junior middle linebacker Mike Wright leads the team with 55 total tackles. Wright also has a sack, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.

    Advantage: TCU

    Secondary

    TCU: The Frogs sport the nation’s No. 22-ranked pass defense, allowing 175.6 yards per game through the team’s first 10 games. Senior strong safety Stephen Hodge has started all 10 games for the Frogs this season and has accumulated 56 tackles, six for a loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles.

    Utah: Once again, the Utes are comparable to the Frogs in a defensive category. The Utes are ranked No. 24 in the nation and allow 176.6 yards per game on the ground. Junior cornerback Sean Smith is tied for second in the Mountain West Conference with three interceptions.

    Advantage: TCU

    Special Teams

    TCU: The Frogs are the No. 2-ranked kickoff return team in the nation, averaging 28.87 yards per return on 23 kickoffs. Freshman kicker Ross Evans is tied for seventh in the nation for field goal accuracy of players with at least 15 attempts, making 86.7 percent of his field goals.

    Utah: Senior punter and kicker Louie Sakoda earned serious recognition when he was named the 2007 All-American kicker and punter. This season, Sakoda is averaging 42.5 yards per attempt on 38 punts and he has a long of 81 yards. Sakoda has also made 17 of his 19 field goal attempts.

    Advantage: Utah

    Coaching

    TCU: Head coach Gary Patterson heads into his 98th game as TCU’s sideline guru. He has a record of 71-26 and his Frogs are still No. 1 in time of possession, averaging 34:47 per game. The Frogs also lead the nation in first downs allowed with 11.8 per game.

    Utah: The Utes’ head coach Kyle Whittingham will be coaching his 48th game as Utah’s head coach. His record is 33-14. The Utes are No. 4 in time of possession, averaging 32:57 per game. Utah’s defense allows 14.44 first downs per game, good for No. 5 in the nation.

    Advantage: TCU

    These two defenses are very evenly matched, but Utah is yet to play a ranked team. TCU is too pumped to lose here. Frogs win 31-13.