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Staff Predictions: #18 Texas Longhorns vs. #4 TCU

HornSports Staff
HornSports Staff

Oct 2, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws during the second quarter against the Texas Longhorns at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The #18 Texas Longhorns (6-3, 4-2) host the undefeated #4 TCU Horned Frogs (9-0, 6-0) in a marquee matchup at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday.  First year Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes has his team playing at an elite level, with TCU boasting one of the most prolific offenses in the country. The Texas offense is is equally formidable.  It has the capability to torch offenses, especially if quarterback Quinn Ewers and running back Bijan Robinson get things going.  ESPN's College Game Day will be on-hand for the second time this season in Austin, in what amounts to the biggest game of the season for both programs.

The Horned Frogs made their way into the Top-4 of the College Football Playoff rankings this week and need a win in order to keep their hopes of playing for a national championship alive.  The Longhorns are seeking their biggest win in Austin in over two decades.  Should they defeat TCU, they will be two wins away from an appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game in Dallas.

The stakes are high and the crowd will be loud, but will Texas and Steve Sarkisian follow last week's road win over a ranked team with a home win over a top-5 ranked TCU program?

The HornSports Staff gives you their thoughts and predictions on Saturday's matchup between #18 Texas and #4 TCU.

Jameson McCausland (6-3)

Last week I said Texas had not earned the benefit of the doubt and needed to prove to me they could win on the road. They did. Now, they return home for one of the biggest conference home games in recent memory. While I don’t think the Texas pass defense matches up well against Max Duggan and the weapons he has, I also believe the Texas offense will be able to put up some points against a shaky TCU defense.

As usual, this will be another close one but I have a hunch Texas will find a way to get it done.

Score Prediction:  Texas 38, TCU 35

Aaron Carrara (6-3)

Last week's win against ranked Kansas State in Manhattan was a turning point in the season for this program and for head coach Steve Sarkisian.  The Longhorns almost "had" to win that game or things could have gone south really quick.  Instead, the season still has a lot of light left in it.  The road monkey is off their backs and they welcome a really good TCU team to DKR this weekend.  TCU is ranked in the Top 5 nationally in total offense and they have an array of offensive weapons to use (Max Duggan, Kendre Miller, Quentin Johnston, etc).  If you look at their previous games this season though, they have had to come from behind in roughly 2/3 of them.  Texas has the opposite problem.  They typically jump out to a lead, sometimes a really big lead, and then have to rely on a gassed defense to stop their opponent.

Both teams have issues in the secondary and that will likely be on full display in this game.  TCU ranks 95th nationally out of 131 teams in passing yards allowed per game.  The Longhorns are worse, tied with Nebraska at 103rd.  Bijan will get his yardage and TCU star running back Kendre Miller will keep the Texas defensive line and linebackers on their toes. 

Bottom line is, this will be a game full of offense and it's a matter of who can make the critical defensive stop or stops when they need to.  DKR will be electric and there will be a host of recruits and prospects visiting for the big game.  I think Texas dials up a game plan on both sides of the ball in front of a home crowd that allows them to squeak a win out over the Frogs.

Score Prediction:  Texas 40, TCU 37

Devon Messinger (6-3)

To say that the stakes are high for this one might be an understatement. With the bright lights of College Gameday being centered in Austin, the Longhorns will have to prove that they can overcome the fourth-ranked team in the country on Saturday.

The key for the Longhorns on defense will come down to stopping Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan from moving the chains. So far this year, Duggan has tossed 24 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. Additionally, the defense will have to be alert of Duggan's running ability. If the Longhorns can limit the senior quarterback's damage, expect good things.

Of course, the final results for the Longhorns will ride on the shoulders of their running back room as Bijan Robinson will look to sneak his way through the backdoor of the Heisman conversation.

Score Prediction:  Texas 38, TCU 34

TFloss32 (7-2)

After finally slaying the road beast in Manhattan last weekend, Sark and the Horns have set themselves up for a golden opportunity to take control of their destiny in the Big XII race. This one has a very similar feel to the build-up of the Alabama game with College GameDay making its way to Austin, blue-chip recruits preparing to hit campus and fans salivating at the thought of returning to college football elite status. I wasn’t super confident in this team’s ability to finish ’22 strong before playing K-State, but it feels as if they’re on the cusp of putting it all together. I envision this match-up being a battle of which team can establish the run game, and I believe Texas does so with the support of a defense that’s been excellent against the run while also managing to limit big plays. TCU’s Quentin Johnston being labeled as questionable could be a major factor here as well. Regardless, I like Sark to get the biggest win of his Texas tenure on Saturday night and knock the “cockroaches” off of their playoff perch. A Top 10 ranking beckons.

Score Prediction:  Texas 42, TCU 34

Ryan Swantkowski (5-3)

Many people thought, including myself, that the Alabama game would be the most important Saturday of the season for the Longhorns. At the time, it was. Now, Sarkisian looks to beat a top-5 team in DKR for the first time since 1999 and further control their own destiny to the Big 12 Championship. Can they do it? Let's take a look. 

Starting with unbeaten TCU, they are, as Sarkisian put it, "good in all three phases" of the football game. Offensively, QB Max Duggan has been on a tear this season with 24 TD's and only 2 INT's. WR Quentin Johnston already has 650 yards this season (more than his previous two already) and has elite playmaking ability, while the TCU run game is led by Kendre Miller who has over 1,000 yards and 12 TD's. Defensively, they rank 86th in the FBS but have only given up a respectable 30 TD's. Their special teams is something to note, and the Horned Frogs have had a few highlight plays in that area this year. 

With Texas, they are coming off their first true road win of the season (at Kansas State) and looked pretty sound on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Ewers was able to find star WR Xavier Worthy for 2 TD's and rebounded well after his poor performance against Oklahoma State. The Horns did fumble twice though and lost both of them against the Wildcats. Defensively, the Longhorns lead the nation in QB pressures and seem to be punching the ball out at a high rate. 

With numerous big-time recruits coming to ATX this weekend, I expect the Longhorns to play one of their best games of the season. Give me the Horns to take down the unbeaten. 

Score Prediction:  Texas 44, TCU 38

Mitch Lovell (5-3)

Bert Auburn kicks the game winner as the remaining seconds tick off the game clock to give Texas their biggest victory in a long, long time.  Quinn Ewers and Bijan Robinson have huge games and the defense does just enough to hold on.

Score Prediction:  Texas 38, TCU 35

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