With less than three weeks remaining until kickoff, the anticipation is building as we approach the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve. The College Football Playoff Committee could not have set up a more electric match-up than No. 6 TCU facing off against No. 9 Ole Miss. TCU, with its high-flying offense, will have something to prove after being left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Horned Frogs, however, will have to face a stingy Ole Miss defense. This should be an amazing game, as many media outlets have ranked the Peach Bowl as the most exciting contest of the bowl season.
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This week, I had the opportunity to speak with Alex Gaffigan, a staff writer for TCU 360, an official on-line publication produced by students of The School of Journalism at Texas Christian University. You can follow Alex on Twitter @LaffyGaffy16 for updates on TCU and the Peach Bowl.
Ole Hotty Toddy: Obviously, TCU is disappointed after getting snubbed and left out of the playoffs. Do you think the disappointment will affect the Horned Frogs performance in the Peach Bowl? What about the fan base? Can we expect a lot of purple in Atlanta?
"Alex Gaffigan: I think that’s the biggest question going into this game. Before the season got underway, if you had told a TCU fan that their team would win the Big 12 and earn a spot in a New Years Six Bowl, they would have called you crazy. After the way this season has gone however, it’s impossible to feel like TCU wasn’t slighted in this entire process. Despite missing out on the top four though, a premier matchup against an SEC powerhouse like Ole Miss gives the Frogs an opportunity to prove to the College Football Playoff Committee that they got it wrong, and that the Big 12 can compete with the mighty SEC. As far as the fans go, while I’m sure they would certainly have preferred to be booking their tickets to Pasadena or New Orleans, Atlanta will feature plenty of purple and white on New Years Eve."
OHT: Trevone Boykin is the most recognizable name for college football fans because he was in the Heisman discussion for most of the year. From glancing at the TCU stat sheet, Gary Patterson not only has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, but he also spreads the wealth to several different players. Besides Boykin, who else can Rebel fans expect to make noise in Atlanta?
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"AG: As you said, Boykin has been a nuisance for nearly every team TCU has played against this season. His versatility and speed allow him to beat teams with both his arm and his legs. However, against a secondary featuring the likes of Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt, the passing game could start slow early on. The dual threat running game featuring Aaron Green and B.J. Catalon has been overlooked this season, but I think they could certainly play a huge role in this game. Catalon will return to the fold after missing the last four weeks of the season due to injury, and he’ll complement the hard-nosed downfield running style of Green. If TCU is to have any success through the air, junior wideout Deante Gray and leading receiver Josh Doctson will have to work really hard to give Boykin an outlet downfield."
OHT: Ole Miss is recognized as one of the top defensive units in the country and tops the chart in scoring defense. TCU’s defense is also known for disrupting the quarterback and creating turnovers. Which players on this squad have the capability of giving Dr. Bo and Company some trouble?
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"AG: With all of the newfound offensive success under first year offensive coordinators Doug Meachem and Sonny Cumbie, Gary Patterson’s defense has flown somewhat under the radar this season. Defensively, TCU ranks first in the Big 12 this season in takeaways and first downs allowed. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Paul Dawson is a beast of a linebacker, and leads TCU in total tackles this season. Upfront, defensive tackle Chucky Hunter and defensive end James McFarland have found success getting into the backfield and plugging up running holes all year long. All three will look to get after Bo Wallace early and often to avoid letting him get into a rhythm."
OHT: This year, the Rebels and Horned Frogs have competed on the diamond in the College World Series, the hardwood in Oxford, and now have the opportunity to face each other in Atlanta. I know we have been common opponents in baseball in recent seasons, but what does a series in Fort Worth and Oxford for football sound like to you? Sounds like a quality out-of-conference opponent and a lot of fun to me.
"AG: If last year’s opening day matchup between TCU and LSU at Cowboys Stadium was any indication, Big 12 vs SEC football is a lot fun. Basketball now features the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, and I see no reason why a similar thing couldn’t work for football. Two of the best Power 5 conferences, mass appeal, and two incredible fan bases give it the makings of quite a rivalry. I’m certainly not opposed."
OHT: What is your prediction on the final score? How does it get there?
"AG: In my preview this week, I had TCU winning it by a final score of 38-13. I just think TCU has too much to prove and has come too far this season to not finish up with a win. This will certainly be their biggest test to date, and this game will set the stage for next season If the Frogs are able to come up with the win. Trevone Boykin can stake his case to be an early contender for next season’s Heisman trophy, and a win would go a long way as far as next years preseason rankings go. Personally, I can’t wait to see how this one unfolds."