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TCU vs. Utah

Betting Line: TCU -4.5 O/U 51.5

11/6/10

 

Last year we saw TCU crush Utah in what was something of a changing of the guard. Utah had dominated the conference for years, but it was the Horned Frogs in 2009 that reigned supreme. This year they both meet with undefeated records, but this time the game is going to be contested at Utah. The early line has TCU as a solid 4.5 point road favorite. Can they win this big game and march forward in hopes of playing the BCS Title Game? Or will it be the Utes who reassert themselves and make their claim for being the best in the land? Let's take a look at the key factors that will decide the winner!

The #3 TCU Horned Frogs rank 9th in the nation in rushing thanks to the combined efforts of Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker. Wesley has rushed for 938 yards and 10 TDs thus far in 2010. Tucker is way behind with 478 yards and 6 TDs, but he isn't getting as many carries. Wesley has scored in all but two games this year. In the season opener against Oregon State he racked up 134 yard and a TD while averaging 7.9 yards per carry. Needless to say, TCU will need both Wesley and Tucker to have big games in order to continue their quest to win the Mountain West.

The Horned Frogs should also get good play on offense from senior QB Andy Dalton. In 2010 he has passed for 1,887 yards and 16 TDs. He has 60 career TD passes. INTs have been a problem for him, but it appears he has gotten a handle on it. In the past 5 games he has thrown just a single INT, but in the first 4 games he threw 4 INTs. He looked great in TCU's win over BYU. He tossed 4 TDs that game. Nobody expects him to win it by himself, but Dalton must have a solid game for the Horned Frogs to leave Utah with their undefeated record intact. 

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The #5 Utah Utes can get points on the board in a hurry thanks to senior RBs Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata. They have combined for 15 TDs and nearly a thousand yards so far in 2010. The passing game isn't too shabby either. Sophomore Jordan Wynn is dominating most of the playing time, but senior Terrence Cain is getting snaps also. They have combined to toss 19 TD passes this year. This will be the first legit defense they have played so its going to be interesting to see how they fare. They rank 3rd in the nation in Points For so we expect them at the very least to break TCU's 265 maximum yards allowed mark. In fact, it wouldn't be shocking if they crushed that number.

Utah could run into problems against a TCU defense that is largely considered the best in the nation. They rank 1st in Points Against, giving up only 8.7 PPG. They have sacked opposing QBs 20 times this year and are allowing a meager 217 yards of total offense per game. So far, the largest amount of offense they have given up is 263 yards. If that number doesn't impress you, we don't know what will!

Not only can Utah score, but they also have a strong defense. While not quite as good as TCU's, it is still very exceptional. They rank 6th in the nation in Points Against at 14.1 PPG. Air Force cut them up for 209 yards on the ground last week so it will be interesting to see how they respond.

Same old story every year for these two Mountain West teams. How good are they? Who knows! Tough to tell. How would they fare in the SEC? Who knows. The schedules are, well, weak. Especially Utah's to this point. We mentioned last week to be careful with Utah against Air Force. We pointed out how they have played some of the worst teams in the Nation to pad their stats. Sure enough, they won the game last week, but failed to cover the number. No way should Utah be ranked in the top 10 in the Country right now.

If you're going to handicap this game on stats alone, the line on this game is correct. We have TCU by 5, 21-16. There's not much difference between the two at first glance. But what stands out to us is each teams performance when stepping up in class. Sure, they have both blown away the horrendous teams they have faced. However, TCU also whipped the "good" teams. Baylor is a pretty good team this year. They just knocked off Texas last week. TCU beat Baylor 45-10. Air Force almost upset Oklahoma. TCU beat Air Force 38-7.

Oregon State is ranked #24 in the land and is playing some pretty good ball. TCU outgained them 453-255. TCU had a first down edge of 28-13 and they held the ball for almost 40 minutes of a 60 minute game while on their way to a 30-21 win.

Utah has faced two teams with a pulse all year. Pitt and Air Force. They came away with a 3 point win and a 5 point win.

Bottom line, we think TCU is the better team. They have proved it on the field when they have had to. Utah has left us with some question marks. Oregon State was able to stay within 9 points of TCU. No other team came close. We think TCU is the side here.

Perhaps a stronger play is the total. Last year this game was a shootout with TCU coming away with a 55-28 win. But that was uncharacteristic of this series, which started in 2005. They have played 5 straight years with the following scores : 23-20, 20-7, 27-20, 13-10 and last year's shootout. Throw out last year's shoot out and those previous 4 games average 35 points per game. Our score prediction we mentioned above was 21-16, or 37 total points. Utah doesn't want a shootout. Their best chance to win is a close, low scoring game. Under 51.5 has some value here.

Two recommendations: TCU -4.5 and UNDER 51.5



 

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