TCU Horned Frogs at Texas Longhorns Game Day

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Forums College Football TCU Horned Frogs at Texas Longhorns Game Day

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    The TCU Horned Frogs will try and continue their improbable run to the college football playoffs when they play against the Texas Longhorns on Thanksgiving.
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    Texas +7

    The TCU Horned Frogs and Texas Longhorns play Thanksgiving night at Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.

    The TCU Horned Frogs have won five straight and are still in the playoff hunt. TCU is led by Trevone Boykin, who is completing 59.3 percent of his passes for 24 touchdowns and five interceptions. Boykin has seven total touchdowns and two picks in his last three games, and TCU has 31 passing plays of 25 or more yards. TCU is also 6-0 this season when passing for at least two touchdowns. Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee have combined for close to 1,300 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns while Ty Slanina has seven of his 28 receptions in his last two games. TCU’s ground game is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, as Aaron Green leads the way with 677 rushing yards and six touchdowns. B.J. Catalon, who has 10 rushing touchdowns this season, remains questionable with an ankle injury. Defensively, the TCU Horned Frogs are allowing 23.1 points, 378.8 yards, and they’ve forced 28 sacks and 28 turnovers. Paul Dawson leads TCU with 105 tackles and Mike Tuaua has five sacks.

    The Texas Longhorns are looking to end the season on a four-game winning streak and get a better bowl game. Texas is led by a defense that’s allowing 21 points, 346.5 yards, and has forced 37 sacks and 20 turnovers. The Texas Longhorns have won 11 of their last 13 games when allowing 24 or less points. Jordan Hicks leads Texas with 120 tackles and Malcom Brown has 12.5 tackles for loss. Offensively, Tyrone Swoopes is completing 58.8 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Swoopes has four touchdowns and one pick in his last three games, and Texas has 21 passing plays of 25 or more yards. John Harris and Jaxon Shipley have combined for more than 1,500 receiving yards and eight touchdowns while Armanti Foreman is coming off a 74-yard performance. Texas’ ground game is averaging four yards per carry, as Malcolm Brown leads the way with 654 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

    The Horned Frogs are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 conference games and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games overall. The Longhorns are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games following a bye week and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 Thursday games.


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    Texas coach Charlie Strong and his players insisted Monday they’ll take the field trying to get the win just to keep momentum after a poor start in Strong’s first season. TCU’s title talk isn’t part of the conversation.

    “We don’t even talk about them. It’s all about us. We need to go get another win for ourselves,” Strong said.

    But the rest of college football will be watching the Horned Frogs and calculating what a win or loss will mean nationally in the final push for one of four berths in the first College Football Playoff.

    Under the current standings, TCU would be left out at No. 5 CFP. And struggling to beat a bad Kansas team — which surrendered an NCAA-record 472 yards rushing to Oklahoma’s Semaje Perine last week — has cast some doubt on whether TCU deserves a shot at the national title.

    TCU perhaps doesn’t just need to win, but win impressively against Texas. The Horned Frogs close the season against Iowa State, which ranks near the bottom of the Big 12.

    The Horned Frogs will catch a Texas team on the rise.

    Since a 23-0 loss at Kansas State a month ago, Texas (6-5, 5-3) has won three in a row. The Longhorns defense is arguably the best in the Big 12 and the offensive line, a patchwork unit when the season began, has been opening up huge holes for running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray.

    “This is the best football we’ve played in November since I’ve been here,” wide receiver John Harris said. “Kansas State was a turning point for this team. We made up our minds we had to be better.”

    Harris is among a Texas senior class looking for a defining win to cap a career that has been underwhelming.

    Texas is 31-19 over the past four seasons, including three seasons of at least five losses. The Texas seniors haven’t won a Big 12 title and withstood the early struggles of a 2-4 start under Strong.

    They saw friends and teammates dismissed by Strong, who says he doesn’t’ think his team started enjoying the season until they finally got bowl-eligible two weeks ago by beating Oklahoma State.

    “I would have loved to have walked in here with an undefeated team,” Strong said. “I don’t know if they ever had a chance to sit back and enjoy it … But they got to six (wins) and they battled through it all.”


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    The way TCU is winning this year reminds coach Gary Patterson of some of his best teams at TCU.

    “Winning is the most important thing. Playing as a group, not individuals,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve been pleased with. They’ve kept their nose down and done what they needed to do to win ballgames. I think that’s what all head coaches would like to be a part of, a group that’s like that. We had a group that was like that from 2008 to 2010.”

    The Horned Frogs in those three years went 26-3 and won two Mountain West Conference championships, finishing with a Rose Bowl victory against Wisconsin.

    Patterson is not the only one reminded of those days.

    “There is kind of a similar feeling to those Rose Bowl years,” said Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who led the Horned Frogs in those three seasons, thinking about how the team climbed the rankings in 2010. “Obviously, I was on a different side of it then — I was playing, rather than being a fan. I think to be ranked really high is great. They have two more games left, and they’ve got to play well in those next two.”

    Dalton, speaking to Star-Telegram NFL writer Charean Williams, said he watches the Horned Frogs as much as he can.

    “It’s crazy with the way the playoffs are now, and you’ve got to have style points and all that good stuff to try to get in. It is fun to see. There’s a lot of excitement around TCU football.”

    – Boykin plan

    Quarterback Trevone Boykin didn’t finish last year’s game against Texas, replaced in the first quarter by Casey Pachall.

    This year, there is no doubt about Patterson’s plan with Boykin.

    “Expecting him to try and go win a ballgame,” Patterson said. “That’s what his job is. We’re going to have to score some points. When you go on the road, you’ve got to take ballgames.”

    Boykin has two games of experience against Texas. He was 7-for-9 for 82 yards and an interception two years ago and 3-for-4 for 24 yards last year.

    This year, Boykin leads the Big 12 and is third in the nation in total offense with 356.9 yards per game.

    – Road approach

    TCU has re-established its reputation for playing well on the road.

    After a 1-4 showing away from home in 2013, the Horned Frogs are 3-1 heading into this week’s game in Austin. They have only two losing records on the road in the past 10 years.

    “The biggest thing, I think, is not so much the road games, it’s understanding the maturity and toughness of your football team and your program, being able to go on the road and take your own energy. You’ve got to be able to take your own energy if you’re going to win.”

    The Horned Frogs played in a quiet stadium at Kansas two weeks ago. That won’t be the case Thursday.

    “Every week’s different,” Patterson said. “It’s about who you’re playing, the atmosphere of the stadium. The biggest thing is to get them focused in on how you try to do things. We treat it as a business trip. We were having meetings and video tests on Friday night to make sure that your youngest player is as ready as a senior is who’s going to play by the time you get to game time.”

    – Coach vs. coach

    Patterson said he is an admirer of Texas coach Charlie Strong, although they haven’t yet become close.

    “I know Charlie. Respect him from a distance,” Patterson said. “He and I have never had a lot of conversations. I’ve watched him because, obviously, being a defensive coordinator, being a defensive mind, I watched him at Florida, watched him at Louisville and now I’ve watched him at Texas. Always been an admirer.”

    Thursday’s game will be the first meeting between the coaches.


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    Here are three Texas players to watch.

    – Tyrone Swoopes, Quarterback, Sophomore

    After starting quarterback David Ash announced he was stepping away from the game of football after suffering yet another concussion during Week 1 of the 2014 season, all eyes in Austin turned to sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. A player many believed to be the future of Longhorn football, Swoopes has fallen short of the hype surrounding him. Through 11 games this season, Swoopes is averaging only 195 yards per game through the air, the ninth worst passing average in the Big 12. As a result, Swoopes and the mediocre UT offense rank second to last in the Big 12 in total scoring, ahead of only the University of Kansas. While the TCU pass defense may not be the best in the Big 12, Swoopes will really have to play the game of his career if the Longhorns plan to trouble the TCU secondary.

    – Malcolm Brown/Jonathan Gray, Senior/Junior, Tailbacks

    Much like the TCU multi-faceted rushing attack of B.J. Catalon and Aaron Green, UT has found success in 2014 using a two-pronged running back scheme of their own. Running backs Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Gray rank 8 and 9 respectively in the Big 12 in total rushing this season, averaging a combined 118 yards per game on the ground. With QB Tyrone Swoopes struggling to find his rhythm in the passing game, look for UT to test the vaunted TCU defensive line with Brown and Gray.

    – Jordan Hicks, Senior, Linebacker

    After suffering back to back injury-ridden seasons in 2012 and 2013, Jordan Hicks has finally returned to prominence in 2014 to lead the Longhorns defense in his senior season. In 11 starts, Hicks has recorded a team leading 136 total tackles with two sacks and two interceptions to tack on as well. While the UT offense has given fans little to cheer about this season, the UT defense has quietly gone about their business and kept UT competitive in most games. With the best pass defense in the Big 12, UT has proven that it can often be difficult to score on them. Look no further than the UT vs Baylor game in October that saw Baylor score its second-lowest point total of the season to see just how stubborn this Longhorns defense can be.


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    Three TCU players to watch in Thursday’s game.

    – Chucky Hunter, Senior, Defensive Tackle

    With the noted struggles of quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, the Texas run game will be to try to spark the stagnant offense. The TCU defensive line will be called upon once again to close down running lanes and force Swoopes to test the TCU secondary. Anchored by senior defensive tackle Chucky Hunter, the TCU rush defense ranks third in the Big 12 allowing only 123 yards per game on the ground. With a favorable defensive matchup this weekend, Hunter and the rest of the TCU defense should have little trouble neutralizing the Texas offense.

    – Josh Doctson, Wide Receiver, Junior

    Despite boasting one of the most impressive passing attacks in college football, TCU is without a single receiver ranking in the Top 10 in the Big 12 in receptions per game or receiving yards per game. Quarterback Trevone Boykin has thrown touchdown receptions to nine different receivers this season, spreading the wealth to a wide array of his teammates. In what was a quiet week through the air last week against Kansas, look for leading receiver Josh Doctson to return to form this week in what has become arguably the biggest game of the season for TCU. So far on the season Doctson leads the Frogs in both touchdowns (7) and receiving yards per game with 69 yards/game. These numbers are indicative of just how important Doctson is to the success of the offense, and he will need to step up big in primetime this Thursday.

    – Trevone Boykin, Quarterback, Junior

    It is rare for a quarterback to receive criticism after throwing for over 300 yards in a game. However, with the expectations sky high for quarterback Trevone Boykin, anything less than Heisman-caliber play and complete poise within the offense raises some questions. Boykin was eventually able to rally his team against Kansas, but the slow start didn’t help TCU in the rankings. Undeniably the leader of TCU’s offense, Boykin has taken every bit of criticism in stride this season. Although last week was anything but pretty, Boykin and TCU found a way to win. In Thursday’s nationally televised game, Boykin will once again perform on the biggest stage and look to round out his stellar season in style. See if Boykin can make a statement to the College Football Playoff Committee that the Frogs deserve a spot in the top four.


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    TCU -7; Total: 56

    The TCU Horned Frogs face a must-win game against the Texas Longhorns on Thursday if they are going to have any chance of making the College Football Playoff. The Horned Frogs are just 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games as road favorites but have won their past five games overall since losing their only game of the season on the road to the Baylor Bears.

    Meanwhile, the Longhorns have been playing much better lately, winning three in a row both straight-up and ATS after dropping three of their previous four and five of seven. But they are 1-6 vs. the line in their last seven as home underdogs, with the under going 5-1 in the past six under that scenario.

    This season the Texas Longhorns are 6-5 overall and 7-4 ATS against the spread, while the Horned Frogs are 9-1 and 8-2 ATS. As for the totals, Texas is 2-8-1 on the OU, and TCU is 7-3.

    – How TCU Horned Frogs vs Texas Longhorns Stats Matchup

    Offensively, the game matches up the Texas Longhorns No. 98-ranked offense (23.73 PPG) against a TCU Horned Frogs defense that ranks No. 35 at 23.1 PPG. The Texas Longhorns passing attack has averaged 212.91 yards per game, less than the TCU Horned Frogs give up through the air (255.7 YPG on average).

    Defensively, the TCU Horned Frogs feature the league’s No. 41-rated road run defense, allowing 158 yards per game. Texas, meanwhile, ranks No. 83 in rushing offense at home.

    – TCU Horned Frogs vs Texas Longhorns Betting Odds Trends

    TCU is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 games
    TCU is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of TCU’s last 8 games
    TCU is 17-8 SU in its last 25 games on the road
    Texas is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
    Texas is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Texas’s last 5 games
    Texas is 14-7 SU in its last 21 games at home


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    With no championship game in the Big 12 and a woeful opponent in its regular-season finale, TCU doesn’t have as many chances as competing schools to polish its credentials for the College Football Playoff selection committee.

    The sixth-ranked Horned Frogs didn’t aid their cause with a close win against lowly Kansas before a bye week, and that leaves Thursday night’s visit to Texas as perhaps their last prime opportunity to make a stronger case.

    TCU (9-1, 6-1) dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 in the CFP rankings Nov. 18 and out of position for a playoff berth after needing to rally from a 10-point deficit against Kansas for a 34-30 win Nov. 15. The eight-loss Jayhawks then gave up an FBS-record 427 rushing yards to Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine in a 44-7 drubbing Saturday.

    The teams in front of the Horned Frogs – Florida State, Alabama, Oregon and Mississippi State – have either high-profile games this week or a conference championship – or both – to boost their resumes.

    Among the other teams competing with TCU to get into the top four, Big 12 rival Baylor has a game against Kansas State, No. 12 in the CFP, in its regular-season finale Dec. 6 and already has a win over the Horned Frogs. Ohio State is heading to a Big Ten championship matchup against Wisconsin or Minnesota, two teams currently in the CFP Top 25.

    Barring a fortunate string of upsets, TCU will likely need to close out the regular season in dominant fashion to have a chance to get into the top four. It will play Iowa State, 2-8 overall and winless in the Big 12, in its finale Dec. 6.

    “Our job is to keep our nose down and to finish the journey. That’s what we’re trying to get accomplished,” coach Gary Patterson said.

    The Horned Frogs, winners of five in a row, are also competing with Baylor and Kansas State for its first Big 12 title, and will try to remain in first place and end Texas’ three-game win streak.

    The Longhorns (6-5, 5-3) beat then-No. 24 West Virginia 33-16 on Nov. 8 to end a seven-game skid against Top 25 opponents, which included four defeats this season. They then became bowl eligible in their first season under Charlie Strong with a 28-7 victory at Oklahoma State on Nov. 15 as Tyrone Swoopes threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns.

    “This is the best football we’ve played in November since I’ve been here,” said John Harris, a fifth-year senior wide receiver. “(A 23-0 loss to Kansas State on Oct. 25) was a turning point for this team. We made up our minds we had to be better.”

    Texas yielded just 192 yards to Oklahoma State and have allowed an average of 12.0 points in its three games in November, but will face one of the Big 12’s most dynamic offenses, led by Heisman Trophy contender Trevone Boykin.

    TCU’s 45.9 points per game trail only Baylor’s 50.0 in FBS, and its 541.6 yards per contest rank in the top five. The Horned Frogs also have one of the nation’s best turnover margins at plus-14.

    Averaging a conference-best 356.9 total offensive yards, Boykin has kept TCU on track even with running back B.J. Catalon out the past two games.

    It’s unknown if Catalon, who also has one of the best kick return averages at 31.8 yards, will be available. He hasn’t played since taking a hard hit in the final seconds of a 31-30 win at West Virginia on Nov. 1.

    Boykin ran for a career-best 123 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-20 victory over then-No. 9 Kansas State on Nov. 8, and Aaron Green has totaled 299 yards and three TDs in the past two weeks.

    “All of our running backs have played a part … and Aaron has had a couple of big ballgames that have really made a difference for us,” Patterson said.

    The Horned Frogs have been held to less than 300 yards while splitting their first two Big 12 matchups with Texas. They had to deal with poor weather conditions, which caused a delay of three-plus hours, in a 30-7 home loss to the Longhorns on Oct. 26, 2013, and were outgained 415-246.

    TCU snapped a 15-game losing streak in Austin on Nov. 22, 2012, with a 20-13 win over the then-No. 18 Longhorns.

    Texas hasn’t won three straight at home since 2009.

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