Friday Night Bites: Your baseball alternative

Friday October 28th, 2011

• BYU vs. TCU, 8:00 p.m., ESPN: Baseball leave you cold? (I actually ended up watching the 10th inning of last night's World Series game because my Twitter feed blew up so vehemently at the end of the ninth that I thought there had to be a cat out on the field or something.) These two former Mountain West rivals are here to fill your Friday night, meeting at Cowboys Stadium presumably for the last time with even one squad sporting the MWC logo. The loser will not suffer a conference loss, but BYU has a tough row as an independent seeking a prestigious bowl selection, and TCU is chasing 7-0 Boise State as it is. With two losses apiece, national consequences are off the table for both the Horned Frogs and Cougars, but it's fair to call this a must-win. And there can be only one must-winner.

Both teams are riding fat and sassy at the moment, coming off blowout wins of delicious creampuffs Idaho State and New Mexico. Last season the Horned Frogs made short work of the Cougars, 31-3, en route to a Rose Bowl berth. And while BYU is fielding yet another new face at quarterback this time around, TCU's defense hasn't lived up to its BCS-busting predecessor. The Frogs have played more one-sided ball this season, with a fierce offensive production unit reined in only once, scoring 27 in a slugfest win against San Diego State. TCU hasn't scored fewer than 20 in any other week, and in its two losses to Baylor and SMU it simply got outshot. BYU's defense is well-regarded, allowing 340 yards per game, and it's strongest against the pass, so watching Casey Pachall work should make for good television.

Flip the field: Riley Nelson has comported himself admirably as Jake Heaps' replacement, cracking the national top 100 in total offense despite only seeing significant playing time in the last four games. On the season, he's 55-of-89 with 11 touchdowns, three picks and 833 yards and is also the team's second-leading rusher. Let's see what this watered-down edition of the Horned Frogs defense can make of him.

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