Previewing the Alamo Bowl: TCU vs Oregon


TCU warms up for its home game against West Virginia on Oct. 29, 2015.

With starting quarterback Trevone Boykin suspended only two days before No. 11 TCU football kicks off the New Year by facing the No. 15 Oregon Ducks in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, the Frogs will have to turn to senior Bram Kohlhausen to take the reins.

After finishing 10-2 on the regular season and No. 3 in the Big 12 conference, it is the Frogs’ first time playing in the Alamo Bowl. On the other hand, it will be the second appearance for the Ducks in three years after finishing 9-3 and No. 3 in the Pac-12 conference this season.

Boykin was suspended by head coach Gary Patterson after being arrested for hitting a police officer, resisting arrest and public intoxication in San Antonio early Thursday morning.

The matchup comes a year after many projected TCU to play Oregon in the 2015 Rose Bowl game as part of the inaugural college playoff, a matchup that never materialized after TCU dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 in the final week of the 2014 season.

When the Ducks and Frogs battle it out on Jan. 2, it will be a contest between two of the most explosive and high-tempo offenses in the nation, but there will be several key players missing once again for TCU’s offense.

Boykin threw for a whopping 3,575 yards this season and rushed for 612 yards, the second highest rushing yardage on the team this season. Boykin finished with 22 passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns. Twitter users reacted with shock to the news of Boykin’s arrest.

With Boykin out just two days before gameday, the Frogs will likely turn to senior Bram Kohlhausen to start at quarterback. Kohlhausen saw action against Kansas and Oklahoma, nearly leading the Frogs to overcome a 30-13 deficit against the Sooners in the fourth quarter on Nov. 21.

It will be quite the challenge for Kohlhausen to be as effective as Boykin in this contest however, given the Frogs have been practicing with Boykin at quarterback the past month. The other option would be for redshirt freshman Foster Sawyer to get the nod. Sawyer started at quarterback against Oklahoma, but he threw four interceptions in the loss.

The Frogs will also be without senior wide receiver Josh Doctson, whose college career came to an end after he suffered a wrist injury late in the season. Doctson was responsible for 15 touchdown receptions this season and caught for 1,327 yards. Doctson’s absence will force receivers such as senior Kolby Listenbee and sophomore Emanuel Porter to fill in the gap. Listenbee caught for 598 passing yards this season, second behind Doctson.

It will be a homecoming for TCU tailback Aaron Green, a San Antonio native. Green rushed for 1,171 yards this season on 219 carries, recording 10 touchdowns.

On the other hand, Oregon will be led by quarterback Vernon Adams, Jr. After being injured early in the season, a period in which the Ducks went 3-3, Adams has bounced back nicely to lead the Ducks to a six-game winning streak entering the game. Adams had a 64.6 percent completion rate this season and threw for 2,446 yards and 25 touchdowns.

The Frogs will also have to watch out for Oregon running back Royce Freeman. Freeman rushed for 1,706 yards this season and recorded 14 touchdowns for the ducks. Wide receiver Bralon Addison could also be a threat, leading the Ducks receiving corps with 58 receptions for 775 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

While the offenses may be two of the best when fully healthy, the defenses are a different story.

TCU has historically been known for its solid defense, but the squad has not been the difference maker for the Frogs this season like it has in years past. The Frog defense was plagued with more injuries than any team would care to count. The squad enters the game No. 60 in the nation, allowing averages of 182.3 rushing yards and 214.3 passing yards per game.

That said, the Frogs’ defense should not be underestimated entering the game. The squad still has experienced players such as senior defensive tackle Davion Pierson, senior defensive end Mike Tuaua and senior safety Derrick Kindred who can step up and make the big plays when it matters most. It was revealed earlier this week that Kindred played with a broken collarbone this season.

There remain numerous first year players who have been forced to start, but now with a full season under their belts and four weeks to prepare, expect the Frogs’ defense to put up a respectable performance in this one.

The Oregon defense, however, appears to face an incredible uphill battle in the Alamo Bowl. Ranked 114th in the nation, the Ducks have allowed an average of 301.2 passing yards in the nation – No. 124 of 128 Division I schools. They are also No. 68 when it comes to rushing, allowing an average of 179.2 yards per game. The Frogs’ offense will have the opportunity to take advantage of Oregon’s defensive woes when they take the field, so expect a lot of passing from the Frogs.

Final Thoughts and Prediction

Yesterday I would have said get ready for a Texas-style shootout, with more than 100 points scored and 1,000 yards of total offense. Things took a twist when the Boykin announcement came out this morning. With Boykin out, the Frogs’ offense won’t be the same formidable squad everyone expected it to be coming into this game. Kohlhausen has shown potential, but last minute adjustments at quarterback can throw off everyone’s routine on offense. It hurts even more when your team leader all season is suddenly gone.

The Ducks now have a huge offensive edge in this one, considering they are fully healthy and are riding the momentum of a six-game winning streak. That said, the Frogs will have to use their defensive edge and play like they did against Oklahoma, when they were last without Boykin and Doctson, to have any shot in this one. That is easier said than done though, especially when a team is already demoralized.

Prediction – Oregon 42, TCU 31