The West Virginia Mountaineers are heading down to Texas for an exciting Big 12 conference matchup with TCU this Saturday (9/30/23). Get West Virginia vs. TCU odds, predictions, and picks below as our best bet is WVU +12.5.
West Virginia Vs. TCU Prediction & Best Bet
After making a magical run to the College Football Playoff and even winning a game there to reach the National Championship, TCU’s 2023 season started with a heavy dose of regression and a crushing hit of reality as the Horned Frogs lost to Deion Sanders’s Colorado Buffaloes. Sonny Dykes’s squad of course isn’t just regressing in terms of individual performances; they lost major playmakers from last year’s team, most notably Heisman finalist quarterback Max Duggan and his top wideout Quentin Johnston, who was a first round pick in this year’s NFL draft.
After the Colorado game, TCU got back on track with wins over FCS squad Nicholls State, new Big 12 foe Houston, and Dykes’s former team SMU. It’s always good to win three in a row, but this game against WVU will be their first test against a solid defense, including the Colorado game really. The Mountaineers themselves have also bounced back after an opening day thrashing at the hands of playoff hopefuls Penn State, highlighted by a rivalry win over Pitt in the backyard brawl, and a nice defensive effort against a trendy Texas Tech team in a 20-13 win.
In a conference characterized by high-flying shootouts in recent years, this game should buck that trend. The Mountaineers don’t have a particularly potent offense, as they rank outside of the top hundred squads in terms of EPA per play on that side of the ball, so they may not be able to punish TCU’s porous defense. However, the Frogs’ offense is far from the juggernaut it was last year, and is going to have a very tough time against a WVU defense that’s in a totally different category than the ones they’ve faced thus far.
West Virginia won’t get enough out of the quarterback position with starter Garrett Greene out to pull off the road upset, but TCU probably doesn’t have the juice to pull away in this one. That being said, the Mounties just might not have the offensive skill weapons to stick around enough to cover this spread, which is at a relatively awkward football number, so let’s avoid that one and stick with the under. WVU’s pass rush should be able to put enough pressure on TCU quarterback Chandler Morris, who has had a shaky start to the year. It’s also hard to envision the Mountaineers contributing much to the total themselves, as a surprisingly stout TCU run defense will force West Virginia to throw, which is definitely not optimal for them at this point.
West Virginia Vs. TCU Prediction & Best Bet: u52 (-110)
West Virginia Vs. TCU Betting Odds
It’s not a perfect football number, but WVU is a 12.5 point road underdog going into TCU’s house. The total is set at 52, with -110 odds on either side of that number.
West Virginia Vs. TCU Key Matchups
While West Virginia’s defense is looking like it could be one of the Nation’s best, they don’t have the offense to match, so let’s look at who needs to have a good day to keep the Mountaineers in this one.
TCU Rushing Attack vs. WVU Run Defense
While TCU might not have the explosive passing game they did a year ago, the running game has absolutely kept up its end of the bargain. They have the nation’s seventh-best EPA per play on rushing plays, led by Emani Bailey who is averaging 6.0 yards per carry, and well over 100 per game. Morris has been good on the run as well, averaging over 6 yards per carry himself, while Trey Sanders has been the scoring threat with a team-high four touchdowns on the ground. The offensive line has been fine, just outside the top-60 in run blocking per PFF, definitely a step down from their performance a year ago.
They’ll be running into a WVU defense that has been outstanding to start the year, with the second-best EPA against the run in the nation. The linebacker duo of Lee Kpogba and Hershey McLaurin has been really strong thus far, while Sean Martin and Edward Vesterinen have been anchoring the defensive front on the edge and inside, respectively. It’s really been a team effort driven by defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley, and this group will need to shine once again to force TCU to be one-dimensional.
WVU Air Game vs. TCU Pass Defense
On the other side of the ball, WVU will need to take a serious step up in the passing game, which has been an enormous weakness, to exploit one of TCU’s own flaws, their very low-tier pass defense. This is the unit, after all, that allowed over 500 air yards at home to a Colorado team that hasn’t matched that production again, even at home against Mountain West squad Colorado State. Nicco Marchiol has struggled in relief of the injured Greene, but his pass-catchers haven’t given him much help, as they rank 119th in PFF’s receiving grade. Overall, the unit has accumulated a dismal EPA/play of -0.18 on passing plays, good for 112th in the nation.
TCU’s pass defense has had a rough go of it as well with an EPA/play on opponent dropbacks that places them 85th in the country. Josh Newton has been a bright spot at cornerback, but beyond him, it’s been fairly dismal for the Frogs in the defensive backfield. The pass rush has been better, led by edge duo Micheal Ibukun-Okeyode and Rick D’Abreu, but it hasn’t routinely been enough to mask a coverage group that has been well below standard, as it was at many points even during their historic 2022 campaign.