This might be UT’s best chance in years to get back the upper hand. The Longhorns are riding high after blowing out USC last week, while the Horned Frogs are coming off a slobberknocker versus Ohio State.
If the ‘Horns can’t pull this off, it's probably time to put a hold on the “Texas is back” talk. Unfortunately for them, TCU never goes down easily.
TCU at Texas
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 22 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Spread: TCU -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Do the Horned Frogs still have it in them?
TCU put a ton of emotion into last week’s matchup with the Buckeyes, only to come out on the losing end. Teams lose focus a week out from a game like that. That doesn’t happen often with Gary Patterson’s squads, but it’s definitely in play here.
A flat team on either sideline has no shot in this game.
2. Protecting Sam Ehlinger
So far this season, Texas’ pass protection has improved significantly from last year. The Longhorns have given up just four sacks through three games, aided in part by Ehlinger’s ability to take off and run when needed.
TCU pass rusher Ben Banogu and the rest of his cohorts will be coming full force for Ehlinger on Saturday. We’ll get a better idea if the UT offensive line is for real after this game.
3. TCU run game vs. Texas run defense
The rest of the country probably didn’t realize just how effective TCU’s ground attack is before watching the Horned Frogs pound out nearly six yards per carry versus Ohio State last week. Junior Darius Anderson proved he has fully healed from last year’s season-ending leg injury, tearing up the Buckeyes for 154 yards on 12 carries. He teams with Sewo Olonilua to give TCU a nasty one-two punch at running back, while quarterback Shawn Robinson can do some damage of his own on the ground.
UT has held firm against the run this season, including allowing negative five (-5) rushing yards to USC. This represents Texas’ stiffest test yet.
Looking at this matchup, it’s tough to ignore how the last four games between these teams turned out: TCU’s 24-7 win in 2017 is the closest game in its winning streak.
The gap between the two programs is closing; although it’s probably not shrinking fast enough for many Longhorn partisans. Considering they’re playing in Austin, though, this feels pretty close to a toss-up. The point spread says as much.
Texas’ win over a flailing USC squad last week gave the ‘Horns something to build on, but confidence only goes so far against a sharp-edged team like TCU. After Shawn Robinson’s baptism of fire last week, the charged atmosphere on Texas’ turf won’t scare him. Look for Sam Ehlinger to make one more mistake than his counterpart, which will account for the final margin.
Prediction: TCU 31, Texas 27
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.