GAME NOTES: Lone Star State rivals are set for a Thursday night battle, as the Texas Tech Red Raiders play host to the 24th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs in Big 12 Conference action from Jones AT&T Stadium.
TCU opened the season with a marquee matchup against nationally-ranked LSU in Arlington, Texas, losing 37-27. The Horned Frogs managed to snap their three- game losing streak by defeating FCS foe Southeastern Louisiana at home last weekend, 38-17, although they did not look great in the process.
"I thought we didn't play with very much enthusiasm (versus Southeastern Louisiana)," TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. "I told them that is what good teams don't do, you can't come down to the level of the team that you're playing. We've got work to do."
Texas Tech has already faced off against a couple of intrastate foes with impressive results, having beaten SMU in the opener on the road, 41-23, and Stephen F. Austin last week, 61-13 -- a start that's a great sign for a squad that ended the 2012 regular season by losing four of five games.
First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury knows the difficulty of playing just five days apart, and understands that his team must be on its game to take down a nationally-ranked squad.
"I hope (the short week) helps," Kingsbury said. "It's a tough turnaround. We know (TCU's) one of the best-coached teams in America, so it will be a heck of a challenge.
In terms of the all-time series, Texas Tech holds a 29-23-3 advantage over TCU, which includes three straight wins.
TCU's offensive output has been rather modest so far, putting up 32.5 ppg and 330.5 ypg. Considering their lower-level opponent last week, the Horned Frogs' 402 yards was a disappointing number.
The squad suffered a huge blow midway through the Southeastern Louisiana game when Casey Pachall suffered a broken arm, and following surgery he will need about eight weeks to recover.
In his absence, Trevone Boykin will take over as the every-down quarterback. Boykin, who had split snaps with Pachall early on this season and was the starter in 2012 when Pachall left the team to deal with personal issues, has completed 60 percent of his passes for 203 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing for another 48 yards.
Despite the unfortunate injury to Pachall, the team is confident in Boykin's ability to lead the offense.
"I'm used to playing with (Boykin)," running back B.J. Catalon said. "When I was a freshman, he was our quarterback, and that's what I'm used to. when he's in there I feel as comfortable as I do with Casey, and everyone on the team feels the same way. He can make plays with his feet and throw the ball."
Catalon is the team's leading rusher, gaining 111 yards on 19 carries while scoring a pair of touchdowns. Waymon James (72 yards) also has two rushing scores.
While 15 different receivers have caught a pass for the Horned Frogs, no one has more than five receptions. Josh Doctson leads the way with 78 yards and a touchdown.
TCU's defensive numbers aren't anything special (27.0 ppg, 393.5 ypg), but the unit has come up with several big plays through the first two games, forcing four turnovers while recording 14 TFL and four sacks.
Elisha Olabode leads the team with 16 tackles, while Jason Verrett, Chris Hackett, Jonathan Anderson and Marcus Mallet all have double-digit stops as well.
After putting up 102 points over the first two games of the season, the Texas Tech offense ranks ninth in the FBS in scoring, and its 596.0 ypg is good for sixth in the nation. The offensive production was particularly potent against SFA last week, racking up 731 yards.
Freshman Baker Mayfield has been nearly flawless under center, completing 71.1 percent of his passes for 780 yards (third in the FBS), tossing seven touchdowns paired with zero interceptions. Michael Brewer, who was expected to be the team's starter heading into the campaign, is due to return within the next couple of weeks following back surgery, although Kingsbury has no answer for how he'll address the quarterback position going forward at this time.
"We're still week to week on that," Kingsbury said. "Anything can happen. So (Mayfield's) just got to continue to get better and continue to improve."
Mayfield spreads the ball out to several different receivers, with Eric Ward, Jace Amaro, Jakeem Grant and Brad Marquez all tallying more than 115 yards. Ward leads the corps with 16 receptions and 186 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone.
The Red Raiders are a pass-first team, which is evident when you realize Mayfield is the leading rusher with 82 yards. Kenny Williams has just 43 yards on 16 carries, but he's scored a pair of touchdowns.
Somewhat surprisingly, Texas Tech's defense has played very well so far, allowing just 18.0 ppg, although its total yardage yield (423.0 ypg) remains on the high side.
Micah Awe leads the unit with 15 tackles, while Pete Robertson has also been active with 11 stops and 2.5 TFL. The defensive secondary has broken up 12 passes, and Zach Winbush has recorded the team's lone interception.
While Tech has looked impressive this season, its success has not come against top-level competition, so this matchup against a nationally-ranked TCU squad will be a true test to see whether it can be a legitimate contender in the Big 12. TCU's high hopes coming into the season have dipped considerably after the loss of its starting QB, but at least it knows Boykin can bring a certain level of skill and experience to the table.
It'll be close throughout, but expect TCU's defense to make the difference late by coming up with a big play against the Red Raiders' young signal caller.