Big 12 showdown: No. 8 TCU, No. 23 WVU with former SEC QBs
By STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU senior quarterback Kenny Hill and West Virginia’s Will Grier took similar paths to the Big 12, and a head-to-head matchup in the only game nationally Saturday with two Top 25 teams.
Before becoming the starter last season for eighth-ranked TCU (4-0, 1-0 Big 12), Hill had to sit out a year after transferring from Texas A&M. Grier also first started in the SEC, five games as a redshirt freshman at Florida, before watching last year and now his debut this season with the 23th-ranked Mountaineers.
Grier and Hill are both good passers who can also run in high-scoring offenses — and are backed by the Big 12’s top two rushing teams.
“(Hill) was fortunate to be able to be at A&M and play at a high level … but then he had to go through some transition, which always kind of sets people back,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Not a whole lot different than what we would get out of Will Grier a year from now.”
Now a junior like Hill was for his TCU debut a year ago, Grier has thrown for 344 yards a game with 13 touchdowns already at West Virginia (3-1, 1-0 Big 12).
“He’s a smart quarterback, he knows what he’s doing,” TCU safety Niko Small said. “He’s in a good offense for himself. He’s a mobile quarterback. … Just containing him will be the best thing for us.”
Hill, who threw for 3,208 yards with 17 TDs and 13 interceptions last year, has been efficient this season for the Horned Frogs. He has thrown for 241 yards per game with nine TDs and only three picks.
“They’re running the ball a good bit, they’re not asking him to sit back there and throw the ball 90 percent of the time. He’s got a lot of good people around him but he is managing it extremely well,” Holgorsen said of Hill. “A very, very, very efficient quarterback at this point.”
Some things to know when the two teams that came into the Big 12 together in 2012 play for the sixth time as conference foes:
RUN, RUN, RUN
TCU leads the Big 12 with 232.2 yards rushing per game, just ahead of West Virginia’s 231 per game. Mountaineers senior Justin Crawford is the league leader at 113 per game, while Frogs sophomore Darius Anderson has emerged with top returning rusher Kyle Hicks already missing two games, and is third in the league at 106 yards per game. Crawford and Anderson are tied for the Big 12 lead with six rushing TDs each.
NOT AS CLOSE
The first three games between the Mountaineers and Frogs as Big 12 teams were all decided at the very end, twice in overtime. TCU won the 2012 game on the road in double overtime, West Virginia had an overtime win in Fort Worth the next year, and then the Frogs won on a game-ending field goal in Morgantown in 2014. The home teams won more decisively the last two years, TCU by 30 points in 2015, and West Virginia by 24 last year.
Since a season-opening loss to Virginia Tech, the Mountaineers have scored at least 56 points while winning their last three games. … ESPN College GameDay will broadcast from the TCU campus for the second time (the other was 2009 vs. Utah). It is the fifth time overall the Frogs have been part of GameDay broadcasts the past nine seasons. They have won every time. … WVU’s David Sills V has seven receiving TDs to tie for the national lead.
UNRANKED TO TOP 10
After opening the season unranked, TCU starts October in the AP Top 10. The Horned Frogs insist they aren’t listening to the hype any more than they listened to the critics. Coach Gary Patterson makes sure they think that way. “He lets us know that the same people that will hype you up will tear you down,” safety Niko Small said. “We try to make it not affect us whatsoever.”
AFTER THE BREAK
Both teams are coming off open dates last week.
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