Game preview: Can the Oregon Ducks take advantage of wounded TCU Horned Frogs? – OregonLive.com
No. 15 Oregon vs. No. 11 TCU
Time: 3:45 p.m. PT
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio
Records: Oregon (9-3); TCU (10-2)
Coaches: Mark Helfrich, third year at Oregon (32-7); Gary Patterson, 15th season at TCU (142-47)
Latest Line: Oregon by seven
On Air: TV on ESPN, radio on radio on KXTG (750 AM, 102.9 FM), KUGN-AM (590), Sirius/XM 80
What’s At Stake: With a victory, Oregon could be a 10-win team for an eighth consecutive season, a streak that would tie Alabama (2008-2015), Virginia Tech (2004-11) and Miami (1985-92) for the fourth-longest run of 10-win seasons in college football’s modern era.
UO offense vs. TCU defense: Oregon’s fifth-ranked scoring offense (43.2 points per game) will attempt to take advantage of an riddled TCU defense that lost 10 of 11 starters from last season due to injury, suspension, retirement and other reasons. The Ducks will do so with either Helfrich or receivers coach Matt Lubick calling plays in a game that has been called a de facto audition for Lubick to become the next offensive coordinator with Scott Frost leaving for UCF in December. Lubick has never been a coordinator previously in 20 years as a college coach but has built his receivers into Oregon’s deepest unit this season. Bralon Addison and Darren Carrington — playing less than two weeks after the death of childhood best friend Markel Byrd — will go against a secondary that ranked 17th in passing efficiency defense. Safety Derrick Kindred is a first-team all-Big 12 selection. Running back Royce Freeman and his three capable replacements will be half of a key matchup against undersized linebackers in TCU’s 4-2-5 scheme. Travin Howard, who tops TCU with 92 tackles, is 190 pounds and Montrel Wilson is 208 and each is a former safety impressed into duty due to injuries.
UO defense vs. TCU offense: The Ducks are allowing 36.8 points per game and have struggled against wide-open offenses such as TCU’s variation on the old Texas Tech Air Raid. But TCU will be playing without its two best weapons in All-America receiver Josh Doctson, who will be held out due to a wrist injury, and ninth-place Heisman Trophy finisher Trevone Boykin, who is suspended after his role in a bar fight Thursday morning. Replacing Doctson is Kolby Listenbee, who ran the 100 meters in 10.03 seconds at last year’s NCAA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene, and also has a team-high 20.6 yards per catch. Either senior Bram Kohlhausen or freshman Foster Sawyer — or both — will play in place of Boykin. Also missing is center Joey Hunt, an all-conference selection with 35 straight starts. The Ducks will have middle linebacker Joe Walker back after he missed the Civil War due to injury.
Did you know: Oregon sophomore running back Royce Freeman needs 100 yards to break LaMike James’ single-season school rushing record of 1,805 yards set in 2011.
Individual Matchup to Watch: UO quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. vs. TCU strong safety Derrick Kindred. Arguably no quarterback keeps plays alive longer than Adams, a Houdini with the football who leads the country in passing efficiency. He also finished 11th in passer rating on third down. Though it’ll be up to stud defensive end Josh Carraway to pressure Adams, Kindred must keep receivers in front of him as the last line of defense. His 79 tackles were second on the team.
Key Stat: Since 2012, TCU leads the nation with 73 interceptions. In that same span, Oregon ranks second, with 68.
They Said It: “I feel like we’re all about shocking the world, really. Our motto this year was ‘prove them right.’ I mean, everybody counted us out, whatever. I think for this game, it’s ‘prove them wrong.'” Kolby Listenbee on being the underdog after Boykin’s suspension.
Prediction: Oregon 41, TCU 31
— Andrew Greif