The race to make the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, Texas, continues this weekend when in-state rival contenders Texas and TCU meet in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday. The Longhorns made an statement in their Big 12 opener by dropping 70 points vs. an overmatched Texas Tech team, with quarterback Casey Thompson throwing for five touchdowns in the win.
Struggling TCU put together one of the worst efforts of the Gary Patterson era in a 42-34 loss to rival SMU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. The Horned Frogs allowed 595 yards of total offense and 6.7 yards per carry. Quarterback Max Duggan leads TCU with 717 yards passing, 110 yards receiving and nine total touchdowns during the 2-1 start.
Texas holds a 63-27-1 advantage all-time in this historic Southwest Conference rivalry, but TCU has made up ground since Patterson took over the program. The Frogs beat Texas 33-31 in the most recent matchup.
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Frog domination: For whatever reason, Patterson has Texas' number. The Horned Frogs are 7-2 against the Longhorns since joining the Big 12 in 2012 and have won six of the past seven. Texas hasn't beaten TCU in Fort Worth since 2013, the Frogs' only season with fewer than five wins since 1997. Texas has a new head man in Steve Sarkisian, so can he do any better than the last three coaches?
Casey unlocked: Texas rolled with freshman Hudson Card at quarterback to start the year, but the offense has exploded since upperclassman Thompson took over. On 22 drives this season, Thompson has scored touchdowns 18 times and been forced to punt just once. Thompson's experience edge has been obvious in the way he runs through his checks and handles pressure. This is a different offense than the one suffocated against Arkansas. In four games, Thompson has completed 77.8% of passes for 565 yards, 11 total touchdowns and 10.5 yards per pass attempt.
Defensive mess: Patterson teams are known for their physical defensive play, but if Saturday against SMU is any indication, this won't be a banner year. The Horned Frogs gave up 595 yards and an absurd 350 yards rushing in a 42-34 loss to the cross-Metroplex rivals. Right now, TCU ranks No. 101 in rush defense and behind New Mexico State, UConn and Arizona in yards per carry allowed. That doesn't bode well for a matchup featuring Texas running back Bijan Robinson. The pass defense is bottom 10 nationally in yards per pass attempt allowed. TCU should get some key pieces back soon, but it should never have gotten to this point.
Run first: TCU has an air raid offensive coordinator in Doug Meacham, but the Frogs have transitioned towards a run-heavy attack over the past several years. Running back Zach Evans has 330 yards and two touchdowns on 7.9 yards per carry over his first three games. Duggan is also perhaps a bigger threat on the ground with nearly 1,200 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns to his name in his career. Texas needs to be prepared for the QB draw game -- it's where TCU is most lethal.
How to watch Texas vs. TCU live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 2 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Amon Carter Stadium -- Fort Worth, Texas
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Texas vs. TCU prediction, picks
Patterson has a special magic against Texas, but it's hard to see that continuing with the way his defense played last week. Texas has found some magic mixing Thompson passes with a run game that ferociously attacks the edges. If this game turns into a track meet, Texas runs away with an easy win. With TCU's personnel issues on defense, it's hard to see it going any other way. Prediction: Texas (-5)
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