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Texas vs. TCU Football Prediction and Preview

Texas Longhorns vs. TCU Horned Frogs Football Prediction and Preview

Can Texas get past its TCU roadblock?

The series between the Texas Longhorns and TCU Horned Frogs has personified dominance for the last eight years. They've played every year during that stretch, and the Horned Frogs have won seven times.

The two squads appear to be heading in opposite directions this time around, though. After getting roasted by Arkansas in Week 2, the Horns (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) have won their last two games by a combined 93 points. Meanwhile, TCU (2-1) dropped a contentious game to its crosstown rivals from SMU last week.

Here's what to watch as Texas tries to regain the upper hand over the Horned Frogs.

Texas at TCU

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 2 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: ABC
Spread: TCU -5

When Texas Has the Ball

Texas' offensive surge coincided with head coach Steve Sarkisian's decision to pull quarterback Hudson Card in favor of veteran Casey Thompson. Thompson took over in the second half of the blowout loss to the Razorbacks and hasn't let go. On the other hand, playing Rice and Texas Tech can make an offense look better. We'll get a more accurate read on Thompson's fitness to run the show for the Longhorns this week.

The TCU defense isn't its imposing self so far this year, but wily head coach Gary Patterson will come up with a stress test for Thompson and the rest of the Longhorns. He may want to start by trying to slow down UT running back Bijan Robinson, who's one of the best dual-threat backs in the country.

When TCU Has the Ball

Dangerous quarterback Max Duggan has raised his game as a thrower this season. Through the first three games of the year, his passer rating is sitting at 161.95, up from 134.07 in 2020. He has seen his rushing average drop, however, to 3.55 yards per carry.

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Running back Zach Evans has lightened some of the load on Duggan, carrying the ball 42 times already this year. He had 54 rushing attempts in nine games a year ago. The Horned Frogs also have a solid trio of first-team receivers in Taye Barber, Quentin Johnston, and Derius Davis. Barber's average of 23 yards per reception has been a particularly pleasant surprise for TCU.

The Texas defense doesn't seem to be acclimating to new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski as quickly as the other side of the ball. The Longhorns gave up 40 points to Arkansas and 35 to Texas Tech already this year. The Red Raiders raised red flags about UT's ability to stop the pass last week, rolling up 392 yards on just 34 pass attempts.

Final Analysis

Has Texas truly found its quarterback? That question hangs over any analysis of this matchup.

The chemistry between Thompson and receivers Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington demonstrated in the last two games gave everyone in Austin legitimate hope that the team is ready to snap out of the doldrums. Patterson will likely want to see if they can replicate their success through the air. It's a better alternative to letting Robinson bludgeon the TCU defense to death on the ground.

Based on what we've seen from these two defenses, the odds are that we will see a track meet at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday afternoon. That probably puts the Horned Frogs in position to keep the final margin within a touchdown, but it won't be enough to unseat the Longhorns.

Prediction: Texas 38, TCU 34

Podcast: Complete Week 5 Preview and Predictions + Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.