TCU vs. West Virginia: Geno Smith Looking to End Rut with Key Big 12 Victory

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 3, 2012

MORGANTOWN, WV - OCTOBER 20:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers hands the ball off against the Kansas State Wildcats during the game on October 20, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Geno Smith—West Virginia's QB sensation and Heisman hopeful—experienced his hot streak end just as abruptly as it began. 

Smith threw for three or more touchdowns in each of his first five games in 2012, but his last two opponents have limited him to just one touchdown pass. 

Additionally, after six games and 260 pass attempts without a single interception, Smith coughed up two picks against Kansas State a week ago. 

The Mountaineers—after being labeled the surprise team of the season—have suffered back-to-back losses and will look to regain their form during this week's Big 12 showdown against TCU. 

Kickoff is on Saturday, November 3, at 3:00 pm ET. 

Keys to the Game 

The game plan will center around QB Geno Smith and the dynamic receivers at his disposal: Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

The TCU secondary—after allowing over 300 yards in each of the last two games—will struggle to challenge Smith's efficiency and will be taken away by a West Virginia aerial game that ranks fifth in the nation (352.4 yards per game). 

TCU is 1-3 over the last four weeks and has surrendered an average of 37.5 points per game during that period. 

The only hope for the Horned Frogs is to create turnovers and keep Smith off the field by maintaining long and successful drives on offense. 

Since Smith is not known for allowing easy takeaways, it could be a long day for TCU. 

Players to Watch

QB Geno Smith (West Virginia)

Geno Smith—who fell into a rut last week with 143 yards and two picks—will look to regain his momentum and convince Heisman voters that he's still their guy. 

Smith and the Mountaineers have suffered two consecutive losses, and the team is depending on Smith to lead them out of the slump. 

Look for Smith to have a dominating day through the air, especially with a healthy Stedman Bailey at his disposal. 

WR Stedman Bailey (West Virginia)

Stedman Bailey dominated the first four weeks of the season with 635 yards and 10 touchdowns, but has been limited to just 90 yards over the last two games. 

Bailey injured his ankle against Texas Tech and was questionable against Kansas State the following week but ultimately played. 

Bailey—who had an opportunity to heal during West Virginia's Bye week last weekend—will add extra pop to the offense if he's finally healthy. 

QB Trevone Boykin (TCU)

Trevone Boykin—TCU's freshman quarterback—had back-to-back games with four touchdown passes before imploding against Oklahoma State a week ago. 

Boykin threw for just 185 yards and coughed up an interception in last week's game against the Cowboys. 

Boykin will have an opportunity to bounce back against West Virginia's weak secondary, but the question is whether or not he can keep up with Geno Smith in a shootout. 

Injury Repots (According to USA Today)

West Virginia 


OL Jeff Braun (Ankle)

RB Shawne Alston (Thigh)


CB Brodrick Jenkins (Knee)



RB Matthew Tucker (Undisclosed)

G Blaize Foltz (Ankle)

CB Jason Verrett (Undisclosed)

QB Trevone Boykin (Knee)

WR Brandon Carter (Undisclosed)

DE Stansly Maponga (Foot)


Danny Heiss (Undisclosed)


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