The TCU Horned Frogs lost their spotless record last week in an ill-fated trip to Ames, Iowa. Their hopes of a Big 12 title still remain intact, though. TCU needs to knock off an improving Texas team this weekend to keep those hopes alive.
After a rough start, things are looking up in Austin. The Longhorns may have the top defense in the conference at this point in the year, and gutty freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger may be back on the field soon.
Will the Horned Frogs bounce back, or can UT keep up its newfound winning ways?
Texas at TCU
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:15 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: TCU -7
Three Things to Watch
1. Ehlinger back in business?
UT’s starting QB skipped last week’s trip to Baylor after suffering a head injury versus Oklahoma State a week earlier. Sophomore Shane Buechele got the nod in his place and played coolly efficient football, throwing for an average of 7.5 yards per each of his 34 passing attempts with a touchdown and an interception in a 38-7 win.
That, however, was Baylor. Texas probably needs Ehlinger in the lineup to have a crack at upsetting TCU. Luckily for the ‘Horns, he returned to practice this week.
2. Kenny Hill’s composure
TCU’s signal-caller had managed to avoid disaster this season all the way up until last week. Iowa State picked him off twice at inopportune times – One came in the end zone, while the other sealed the Cyclones’ win. Hill also lost a fumble inside the red zone. It was the kind of meltdown that has plagued him his entire college career. He can’t let it carry over to this week.
3. Turpin time
Speedster KaVontae Turpin represents a dangerous wild card for the Horned Frogs in this matchup. Although the Cyclones shut him out in the receiving game a week ago, Turpin still managed to put the only points on the board for TCU via a touchdown on a kickoff return.
Gary Patterson emphasized getting Turpin more involved in the offense on Saturday in comments that the TCU head coach made to the media this week. You’ve been warned, ‘Horns.
Can Kenny Hill keep the mistakes down? The answer to that question will ultimately determine the outcome of this game. Texas’ opportunistic defense thrives on forcing turnovers; Hill has a history of doing just that.
Assuming their QB takes care of the ball, the Horned Frogs should pull this game out. Even with Sam Ehlinger back behind center, that only upgrades the UT offense from “punchless” to “passable.” The Longhorns need chances for cheap points off giveaways to have a shot at winning when they come to Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday night.
Despite UT’s knack for knocking balls loose from opposing offenses, relying on making those kinds of plays isn’t a great formula for consistent success. Look for TCU to win an ugly affair thanks to a home-run play by KaVontae Turpin.
Prediction: TCU 24, Texas 21
— 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.