Texas (4-2) at TCU (3-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Amon G. Carter Stadium (45,000) -- Fort Worth, Texas. Television: FS1. Home Record: UT 2-1, TCU 3-0. Away Record: UT 1-1, TCU 0-3. Neutral Record: UT 1-0, TCU 0-1. Conference Record: UT 3-0, TCU 1-3. Series: UT leads, 61-21-1.
GAME NOTES: The Texas Longhorns will play in Fort Worth for the first time since 1994 on Saturday night when they take on the TCU Horned Frogs in Big 12 Conference action at Carter Stadium.
Texas is coming off a bye, and the team has been playing well since dropping consecutive games to BYU and Ole Miss in September. In their latest contest, the Longhorns took down then 12th-ranked Oklahoma, 36-20, in the latest installment of the Red River Rivalry on Oct. 12. UT is 20-5 coming off a bye week under head coach Mack Brown.
Meanwhile, TCU is looking to rebound from Saturday's 24-10 setback in Stillwater to 19th-ranked Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs are 3-0 at home, and Saturday's contest is their first night game at Carter Stadium this season. All four of the team's losses have come against current nationally- ranked opponents, and TCU battled closely in each of those contests.
Texas holds a commanding 61-21-1 edge in the all-time series, although TCU was a 20-13 winner last year in Austin. That outcome snapped the Longhorns' four- game winning streak in the series between former Southwest Conference rivals.
The Longhorns never trailed against Oklahoma, as they racked up 24 first downs and 445 yards of total offense, nearly doubling the Sooners in both categories. Quarterback Case McCoy made his third start of the season in place of injured starter David Ash (head). McCoy was efficient if unspectacular, as he completed 13-of-21 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Ash has already been ruled out for the TCU game, meaning McCoy will get another start. Look for Texas to continue leaning on its ground game after Johnathan Gray (29 carries, 123 yards) and Malcolm Brown (23-120) both topped the century mark against OU. Gray is second in the Big 12 in rushing and is averaging 113.4 yards on the ground over his last five games.
The Longhorns defense played about as well as could be expected against Oklahoma, as they held the Sooners to just 13 first downs, 263 yards and one offensive touchdown. Chris Whaley also had a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown. They showed continued improvement against the run, holding the Sooners to a team average of 3.9 yards per carry. Greg Robinson was hired as the new defensive coordinator after the unit gave up an average of 7.0 ypc in the losses to BYU and Ole Miss. In the three games with Robinson at the helm, UT has allowed just 3.7 ypc on the ground while also notching 13 sacks. Defensive ends Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat headline the defense. Reed leads the team in tackles (42) and tackles for loss (eight) and is second in QB hurries (nine). Jeffcoat has collected a team-high 5.0 sacks and tops the Big 12 in sacks per game. He is tied with Reed in TFL and QB hurries.
There is growing speculation out of Fort Worth that TCU quarterback Casey Pachall, who broke his left forearm in the second game of the season, could possibly return to suit up against the Longhorns. Head coach Gary Patterson refused to tip his hand during his weekly teleconference, but it is worth noting that Pachall's replacement, Trevone Boykin, was benched in the loss to Oklahoma State after completing only 17-of-35 passes for 188 yards and three interceptions. Boykin's replacement, Tyler Matthews fumbled his first snap under center and did not complete a pass. If Pachall is indeed healthy enough to play, he would no doubt breathe some new life into a stagnant offense (12.3 ppg in their three conference losses).
While TCU's offense has endured its struggles, the defense remains a strength. The Horned Frogs rank 19th in the nation on that side of the ball (340.4 ypg allowed), and they currently lead the Big 12 and are tied for fifth nationally in sacks (24). They have posted two sacks or more in eight straight games, the second-best active streak in the country. TCU also tops the conference with 19 takeaways, and 12 of its last 13 opponents have been held to less than 60- percent completion percentage. Sophomore defensive end James McFarland collected a pair of sacks against Oklahoma State, while senior All-American cornerback Jason Verrett tacked on another pass breakup. He leads the nation with 34 passes defended since 2012.
On paper, Texas is a curious underdog, given its better record and recent victory over nationally-ranked Oklahoma. However, TCU has emerged victorious in 31 of its last 36 home games, meaning the Longhorns will certainly have their hands full in this sold-out contest. In addition, TCU has followed up each of its four losses with a victory in the next game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: TCU 24, Texas 20
10/23 10:45:44 ET