A month ago, this Thanksgiving Day matchup looked like nothing more than a feast for the Horned Frogs.
Fast-forward to present day and the Longhorns (6-5, 5-3 Big 12) have used that KSU loss as a rally cry to turn their season around with three-straight victories; the latest was a 28-7 drubbing of Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Nov. 15.
TCU, meanwhile, has continued to be one of the surprises of the season and has its sights set on the College Football Playoff. The Frogs (9-1, 6-1) are No. 4 in the current polls but know that a victory against UT would put pressure on the teams ahead of them to keep pace with several key games this weekend.
Texas has said all week long that it is not playing this game as a spoiler, but wants to win this to continue to positive momentum its created and give its seniors a proper home exit.
Will the Longhorns be able to keep their momentum going into their bowl game? Or will the Horned Frogs overcome what should be a raucous crowd inside Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and give the CFB selection committee a lot to think about going into next Tuesday’s rankings release?
Last Time These Two Faced Each Other
Mother Nature wasn’t too kind the last time these two teams faced each other back on Oct. 27, 2013.
But the 3-hour, 6-minute rain delay didn’t hurt Texas on the field. If anything it renewed the Longhorns’ focus as they came out and steamrolled the Horned Frogs 30-7.
Five TCU Players to WatchQB Trevone Boykin - The front-runner for Big 12 Player of the Year can make plays happen through the air or with his feet.
He has thrown for 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns with only five interceptions in 386 attempts. Boykin is also TCU’s second-leading rusher with 548 yards and seven touchdowns.
Boykin has the nation’s longest current streak for not throwing a second-half INT at 185 attempts.RB Aaron Green - If B.J. Catalon can’t go due to injury the Horned Frogs won’t have any problem handing the ball off to Green, who has come up huge over the last few games in Catalon’s absence.
Green rushed 18 times for 171 yards and a touchdown against Kansas State, and rushed 19 times for 128 yards and two scores in a nail-biter against Kansas.K Jaden Oberkrom - He is easily one of the most clutch kickers in the country, and has proved it time and time again this season. Perhaps his biggest FG came on a 37-yarder as time expired to give TCU a 31-30 win at West Virginia. LB Paul Dawson - This game will feature the two best linebackers in the Big 12 in Jordan Hicks (Texas) and Dawson.
He leads the Horned Frogs with 105 tackles, 31 more than second place, has 15 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, three interceptions, five pass breakups, 8 pass deflections, four quarterback hurries, three recovered fumbles, and two forced fumbles. Yeah.CB Kevin White - White shut down WVU’s Kevin White to the tune of three catches for 28 yards (and one of those was a 23-yard gain).
He is tied with Chris Hackett for the team-lead with 11 pass deflections.
Five Keys to the Game1. Is Tyrone Swoopes ready to step up his game against big-boy competition?
If he can reproduce the game he had at Oklahoma State (24 of 33 passing for 305 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs), Texas beats TCU.
Swoopes can't repeat his performance against Baylor (16 of 34 passing, 144 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs), K-State (13 of 25 passing, 106 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT) or WVU (11 of 29, 124 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT).2. TCU's defense leads the Big 12 and is No. 3 nationally in turnover margin (+14).
The Horned Frogs force you into mistakes and take the ball away.
The Texas D has to win the turnover battle on Thursday night, because there's a good chance Swoopes will be getting harassed by the TCU defense, namely do-it-all LB Paul Dawson (No. 47 - 105 tackles, 15 TFLs, 5 sacks, 3 INTs, 3 fumbles recovered, 2 forced fumbles).
Jordan Hicks and Dawson are the two best LBs in the Big 12.3. TCU may have the same offense as Oklahoma State - as many Texas defenders pointed out.
But dual-threat Trevone Boykin poses the biggest running threat of the season from the QB position. If UT fails to keep him contained in the pocket, Boykin will take over the game.4. TCU has the decided edge in special teams with K Jaden Oberkrom, who has delivered five clutch kicks in his career, including the game-winner at WVU this season as time expired.
The Horned Frogs also have three players who have returned either punts or kicks for TDs, including Cameron Echols-Luper, who returned a punt 69 yards for a score last week, giving TCU the lead for good in a 34-30 win at KU.5. TCU's pass defense, No. 7 in the Big 12, giving up 255.7 ypg through the air, can be exploited.
Baylor, the only team to beat TCU, threw for 510 yards against TCU while racking up a staggering 782 yards of offense in the Bears' 61-58 win in Waco on Oct. 11.
Kansas threw for 342 yards in a near upset of the Frogs.
HD PredictionsCHIP BROWN
I feel like I've looked at this from every possible angle, and I keep coming back to how Trevone Boykin played against Kansas State and how Tyrone Swoopes played against K-State.
Granted TCU played KSU in Fort Worth, but Boykin single-handedly destroyed the Wildcats, completing 23 of 34 passes for 219 yards and 1 TD with 0 INTs while running the ball 17 times for 123 yards (7.2 ypc) and 3 TDs on the ground.
Then, I look at Swoopes, who looked like he was trying to solve 11 Rubik's Cubes at once while facing the Wildcats in Manhattan (13 of 25 passing for 106 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs).
The offense just never got going.
It wasn't all Swoopes' fault, either. There were false start penalties (because UT wasn't on a silent count - again - see the OU game in the Sooners' end of the field).
I look at how Boykin played in the first and second halves of TCU's come-from-behind win at WVU and how Swoopes played the first and second halves of UT's hang-on-from-ahead victory over WVU in Austin.
Boykin started off terribly and got better when he had to. Swoopes started off brilliantly and then blew flat tires all through the second half when he went 3-of-15 passing for 36 yards.
The Texas defense is good enough to win this game. But TCU's defense is vulnerable through the air, and that's where Swoopes has been the most inconsistent against quality defenses.
Maybe Swoopes proves me wrong.
TCU 23, Texas 21 (On a last-second field goal by Jaden Oberkrom)TCU 23, Texas 21
This game is going to be close, possibly even tied, going into the third quarter. And that’s where this game could turn on the Longhorns if their not careful.
TCU has dominated opponents in third quarters this season, outscoring opponents 151-59. Meanwhile the Longhorns have been outscored 55-23 and have yet to score an offensive touchdown during this quarter in Big 12 play.
If there was ever a time to turn that third quarter jinx upside down, this is the week for Charlie Strong’s bunch to do it.
How do they get this done? By pressuring Trevone Boykin.
The Horned Frogs have done a decent job of protecting him this season, giving up only 17 sacks, which is the fourth fewest in the Big 12. But if Kansas can put pressure on him – sacked him four times – then there is no reason why Malcom Brown, Hassan Ridgeway, Cedric Reed, Naashon Hughes, Shiro Davis, and Co. shouldn’t be able to make life difficult on the converted wide receiver.
In addition, Texas must take care of the ball against a TCU defense that leads the Big 12 and is No. 3 nationally in turnover margin (+14).
I think the Longhorns will take care of the ball and do so by continuing to establish the run with Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown.
Just as Texas’ special teams didn’t allow Tyreek Hill to hurt them in the kicking game in Stillwater, UT will keep the ball away from the Frogs’ return men (Cameron Echols-Luper in particular) and bog down TCU with poor field possession.Texas 32, TCU 29
This is the game Texas is not supposed to have a prayer to win.
TCU averages just over 45 points per game while allowing only 23 defensively. The Horned Frogs have over 3,200 passing yards on the year as well as 2,180 rushing yards. They have won nine games on the year and scored 31 or more in every game this season.
The biggest crowd they played in front of all year was on the road at West Virginia at just over 61,000 fans. TCU escaped with a narrow 31-30 road win.
In most of the games TCU has played this season we have seen the attendance around 40,000 fans. I am sure when they travel to Austin it will be a much different scenario.
This game will feature strength on strength. The Longhorn defense has not allowed more than 16 points in any of the last three games vs. Texas Tech (13) West Virginia (16) and last weekend holding Oklahoma State to 7 points.
Texas will play in front of a wild and crazy crowd this weekend. The crowd noise will be a problem from the opening kick. The Longhorn defense will play fast and furious and cause three turnovers on the day holding TCU to their lowest point total of the season at 24.
The Longhorn offense will do just enough in the ground game keeping the TCU offense off the filed and limiting their possessions.
Texas will pull out a 27-24 upset to close out the season. Maybe we will see how TCU reacts in front of 100,000 plus!Texas 27, TCU 24
*****NICK CASTILLO - HD INTERN
Imagine this: late in the game junior kicker Nick Rose lines up for a game winning field goal. The kick sails through the uprights and Texas celebrates a 31-28 upset victory over No. 6 TCU.
If you thought West Virginia was a signature win then a victory over the Horned Frogs would be something beyond that.
Charlie Strong has a team that has finally bought into his message and a team that is playing for its seniors. This is why I think the Longhorns take down TCU on Thanksgiving night.
Texas will find a way to stop TCU’s quarterback Trevone Boykin. The defense will get pressure on him and will get a few turnovers in key situations.
Additionally, the running game will continue to improve. Texas’ running backs – senior Malcolm Brown and junior Johnathan Gray – will combine for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes will play adequately. Swoopes will throw for 225 yards and a touchdown.
And somehow the special teams will play decently, at least, well enough to win the game.Texas 31, TCU 28
HD ReadsCharlie Strong unsure if UT will play A&M Longhorns Prep for TCU on Turkey Day. Digest’Em – Wallace Plans trip to UT JUCO lineman will visit Thursday Tank Ready to Return for Longhorns Dom Espinosa won’t return next season. KOD: Swoopes, Boykin, T Rob to Troy.
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