Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Texas Longhorns wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey (84) stiff arms TCU Horned Frogs safety Innis Gaines (6) at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
- TCU is a 3-point favorite on the road against in-state rival Texas on Saturday.
- Texas has lost four consecutive games to the Horned Frogs, including three straight at home entering this contest.
Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, the TCU Horned Frogs have dominated their in-state series against the Texas Longhorns, winning five of six conference matchups.
The teams split the first two meetings in 2012 and 2013, but TCU has taken control since, racking up four straight wins against the Longhorns by an average of 30 points per game.
Gary Patterson has dominated Texas during his tenure in Fort Worth — he seemingly has his Horned Frogs revved up to another level whenever the Longhorns are on the schedule.
The Horned Frogs don’t even need motivation like a CBS columnist calling them Texas “rejects.”
This will be the second matchup between Patterson and Tom Herman, who looks to avenge last season’s 24-7 loss in Fort Worth.
In last year’s loss, the Texas offense was stymied by the Horned Frogs’ Big 12-leading defense. In a seemingly impossible feat, the Longhorns ended the game with the same number of rushing yards (9) as they did punts.
After Texas scored its only touchdown during the second quarter, the Longhorns failed to get past the TCU 32-yard line in their final 10 drives.
The offensive numbers from the previous three meetings aren’t much better, as Texas failed to score more than 10 points in any of the past four matchups against the Horned Frogs.
If you’re a Texas fan, you hope that some of the differences in this year’s matchup will lead to a different result.
The biggest difference for these teams going into 2018 is at the quarterback position.
Last year, it was Kenny Hill (TCU) and Shane Buechele (Texas) leading their respective teams. This year, it’s a battle between sophomores Shawn Robinson and Sam Ehlinger.
Texas has a couple of new running backs in the mix, as well. Last year, the combination of Chris Warren, Daniel Young, Jerrod Heard and Buechele averaged 0.9 yards per carry.
This year, grad transfer Tre Watson and freshman Keaontay Ingram (questionable to play) will be asked to have a big impact on Saturday’s tilt. Needless to say, Texas will need to get much more from its ground game to pull off the upset this weekend.
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Both teams are in the process of replacing some big-time players on defense from a year ago, but Patterson and Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando are two of the best in the business when it comes to getting the most out of the talent they have.
Here are a couple of areas that I expect will impact the game this weekend:
Can Texas Protect Sam Ehlinger?
So far in 2018, the Texas offensive line has been much better than the 2017 version, even without former All-American Connor Williams. However, the big uglies on Texas have yet to see a front seven like TCU’s.
Ben Banogu is one of the best pass rushers in the country. If Texas has no answer for him and the Horned Frogs’ other defensive linemen, this game could get ugly.
Who Can Run the Football?
I mentioned what the TCU defense did to the Texas running game last season. If Texas can’t establish the ground game and keep the Horned Frog offense off the field, it could be another long day for Texas against the Purple Frogs.
Meanwhile, the Texas defense held USC to -5 rushing yards last week. While I don’t expect that to be replicated, anything under 100 rushing yards for TCU is advantage Texas. The Horned Frogs tallied an impressive 203 yards on the ground against Ohio State last weekend.
Why did TCU lose to Ohio State last Saturday? Turnovers.
The Horned Frogs had three. The Buckeyes had none.
If Texas can get pressure on Shawn Robinson and create some turnovers, the Longhorns’ offense has a much better chance of being more successful this year than the last four years against Gary Patterson’s defense. Field position is going to be a huge factor on Saturday.
Based on what I’ve seen from Texas against TCU the past four seasons, I can’t pick Texas to win this game. The blowout win against USC was impressive, but TCU is a different animal.
While I think the gap between these two teams is closing, I still like TCU to win and cover the three points on Saturday.
The Pick: TCU 28, Texas 17
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.