Can TCU’s Andy Dalton overcome past woes against Utah?

In his past two games against Utah, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton has zero touchdown passes and six interceptions. Both of those games resulted in losses for the Horned Frogs, including last year’s 13-10 defeat in Salt Lake City.

But Dalton has played with more confidence during the past month than he has at any point in his career and the TCU offense is starting to match the play of its outstanding defense. The Frogs rank eighth in total offense, sixth in scoring offense and also have the sixth best running game in the nation.

That said, the Utes’ defense has served as kryptonite for Dalton in previous years, so can he put those struggles behind him and keep TCU’s BCS bowl bid hopes alive?

Utah ranks 18th in total defense and 13th in pass defense, but they haven’t played an offense even remotely as potent as TCU. And for as good as the Utes’ defense has been this season, they’re susceptible against the run and that’s the Frogs’ bread and butter.

With so much on the line in this matchup, both teams need to take the pressure off their quarterbacks and run the football. But what will be interesting to watch unfold is which defense will stop their opponents’ running game first and force either Dalton or true freshman Jordan Wynn to beat them through the air.

This has the makings of a great game.

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College Football Week 11 Picks and Predictions

After two strong weeks in which I went 8-0 straight up and 7-1 against the spread, I crapped the bed last week. I went just 2-2 straight up and 1-3 against the spread. My only saving grace was that I predicted Ohio State to beat Penn State outright, but the refs took care of any opportunity LSU had of covering.

No. 25 West Virginia at No. 5 Cincinnati, 8:00PM ET, Friday
The Bearcats received a scare last week from Connecticut, which scored 35 second half points in order to erase a 30-10 halftime deficit. While Cincinnati held on to beat the Huskies 47-45, the narrow win raised some doubts about whether or not the Bearcats should be ranked in the top 5. Tony Pike continues to battle a forearm injury, which means sophomore Zach Collaros will once again be counted on to keep Cincinnati’s BCS hopes alive. The Bearcats might have trouble running against a decent West Virginia front seven, but Collaros should have opportunities to methodically drive the ball down the field on an inconsistent Mountaineer secondary. I see this game being close early, but Cincinnati will pull away and hold on to victory in the second half.
Odds: Cincinnati –9.
Prediction: Cincinnati 34, West Virginia 24.

No. 16 Utah at. No. 4 TCU, 7:30PM ET, Saturday
I’m a little surprised to see that TCU is a whopping 19.5-point favorite in such a marquee matchup. I fully expect the Horned Frogs to take care of business at home, but the Utes have a good enough defense to somewhat contain quarterback Andy Dalton and TCU’s trio of running backs in Joe Turner, Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker. Plus, Utah can grind it out on the ground with running backs Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin, so they have the ability to keep TCU’s potent offense on the sidelines and have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. In the end, I think freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn will succumb to the pressure of TCU’s aggressive defense, but this one will be close throughout.
Odds: TCU –19.5.
Prediction: TCU 30, Utah 24.

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