While the Horns are 5-2 through seven games, they've lost their highest-profile matchups to Oklahoma and LSU. A week ago, they needed a field goal as time expired to pull out a 50-48 win over annual cellar-dweller Kansas. TCU's 1-2 record in Big 12 play means any hope of reaching the conference title game in December likely rests on the Horned Frogs winning out.
Here's what to watch on Saturday afternoon at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Texas at TCU
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Texas -1
When Texas Has the Ball
Despite their struggles this season, the Horned Frogs still play solid D. They're allowing 4.66 yards per play, which ranks 19th in the country and second in the Big 12. Junior linebacker Garret Wallow is leading the charge for head coach Gary Patterson's unit, ringing up 63 tackles through six games.
Given that TCU doesn't have any glaring weaknesses on that side of the ball, it's hard to envision Texas head coach Tom Herman deviating much from the plan of attack that has UT moving the ball so efficiently. The Longhorns may lack explosiveness, but they can string together extended drives with the best of them. In addition to minding quarterback Sam Ehlinger's playmaking ability, count on Patterson zeroing in on Devin Duvernay, Texas' chain-moving wideout.
Patterson may also look to mimic the defensive tactics of the Oklahoma Sooners, who sacked Ehlinger nine times in their game two weeks ago.
When TCU Has the Ball
When it comes to the TCU offense, it's no secret that the Horned Frogs need freshman QB Max Duggan to accelerate his progress on the development curve. So far, offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie is taking a limit-the-potential-damage approach with Duggan, who's averaging a scant 6.2 yards per pass attempt. On the plus side, Duggan has yet to throw an interception through six games.
The good news for TCU: The Texas defense has struggled to pressure opposing QBs all season. As such, the likelihood that the Horns can pressure Duggan into a barrage of mistakes is low.
When Duggan does throw the ball, he'll look for talented pass catcher Jalen Reagor first — and possibly second and third. TCU could really stand to see another target emerge to exploit all the attention defenses dedicate to Reagor.
Perhaps the Longhorns were feeling the effects of a post-Red River Showdown hangover, but their close shave against Kansas last week raised legitimate questions about what's in store for this team down the stretch. Most notably, the UT defense has collapsed, helped along in part by the absence of key pieces such as defensive backs Caden Sterns and Jalen Green.
The Horned Frogs can take some solace in that. The Longhorns probably won't have the ability to cause many negative plays that put Max Duggan and the TCU offense in sticky situations.
In fact, look for TCU to find an offensive spark on Saturday, seeing as Texas just surrendered 569 yards and 48 points to KU's pedestrian offense. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, Sam Ehlinger and company won't see the Jayhawks across the field when they have the ball.
Prediction: TCU 30, Texas 24
— 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.