This weekend’s matchup of No. 3 TCU vs. No. 5 Utah is by far one of the biggest games for TCU in school history. Just the thought of potentially jumping No. 2 Auburn or even No. 1 Oregon for a spot in the national championship is truly a thrilling concept.
The computers seem to love TCU, so much that we even jumped Boise State. The winner of the TCU vs. Utah game will likely have the best shot for a non-automatic qualifying school to play in the BCS National Championship. But the focus is Utah, if the Frogs want to impress voters and the computers they are going to need to contain their lethal special teams, and the Frogs’ defense is going to have to shine.
Utah running back Shaky Smithson has been shaking special teams units around the country this year. He leads the nation in punt-return average, punt return yards, total punt returns, and punt returns per game.
However, Horned Frog running back Jeremy Kerley, will pose strong competition for the Utes. Kerley leads the Mountain West in all-purpose yards with 134.4 yards per game.
Kerley has come through in late situations, such as during the SMU game after a crucial interception. Even though he does not have a punt or kickoff return for a touchdown yet, he has been a lethal threat as a wideout. Smithson and Kerley could be the most athletic and exciting players in the country, and people know it.
Special teams should determine who win this game. TCU has never won a game in Salt Lake City, so they are going to need Kerley to shine.
The expression “defense wins championships” is true. TCU is first in the nation for total defense, scoring defense and passing defense. Those are quite admirable statistics.
Another edge TCU has on defense that the Utes do not is experience. Jason Teague and Greg McCoy were involved in many key games last year, as well as six other returning starters on defense. A breakout player on the defensive line is Stansly Maponga. This guy is an athlete with characteristics that resemble Jerry Hughes on the football field. Maponga and Wayne Daniels will be too much for the Utes to handle.
Dreams will be made Saturday in Salt Lake City, and nightmares will become real. It seems as if every time TCU has played Utah in the past couple seasons, it’s the Horned Frogs’ biggest game in history. This trend only solidifies the Frogs’ strength of schedule and helps them in the computers each year.
With the departure of Utah to the new Pac-12 conference next year, this game could be the last for the next few years, for these two rivals to battle their hearts out on another marquee Saturday night.
Mike Zeko is a freshman journalism major from Darien, Conn.