That "2" in the Texas loss column could have easily been one number higher if it wasn't for Cameron Dicker's God-given ability to nail field goals in clutch situations. That kick is what gave Texas the 50-48 victory over Kansas, but 569 yards and 48 points given up at home, to one of the less talented teams in the conference, is a red flag if I've ever seen one. But, what's done is done. Texas is 5-2 and they will hit the road this weekend and try to bounce back against conference rival TCU.
The Horned Frogs have lost 3 of their last 4 games, including a 24-17 nail-biter on the road last week against Kansas State. It won't get much easier this week as an angry ‘Horns team will come to town looking to prove to the country that they are far from dead. The game will kickoff this Saturday at 2:30 PM.
That being said, here are 5 things to keep an eye out for as we approach this matchup of Big 12 squads.
1. Eagles Absence
The Longhorns will travel to north Texas with one of their top playmakers, sophomore Brennan Eagles. However, he has been absent from multiple practices this week for personal reasons that have yet to be disclosed. The 6'4'' stud from Houston has 367 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns this year, both good for second best on the team behind Devin Duvernay. If Eagles playing time decreases due to his lack of time with the team this week, this would be the perfect time for Collin Johnson to really step up and show he is healthy enough to be the receiver he was in 2018. However, Eagles will sill certainly be a threat.
2. Slow Down Duggan
TCU quarterback Max Duggan has been one of the most underrated players in the Big 12 this year. His team is only 3-3 and he doesn't light it up in the stat categories, but his ability to avoid turning the ball over has kept TCU in a lot of games this year. Duggan has also carried the ball 49 times this season, one of them coming last week on arguably the best touchdown run we've seen this year. You can see the highlight below. If Texas can pressure Duggan, force him to make turnovers and take his feet out of the game, they should be able to keep the Horned Frogs from lighting up the scoreboard like Kansas did.
3. Points, Points, Points
The Texas defense is allowing more yards per game than every team in the conference aside from Kansas. Their offense, however, has been consistently dominant. Sam Ehlinger has torched opposing defenses and their assemblage of receivers has been a nightmare for opponents. This week, they will face a TCU team that has allowed the fewest 10+ yard plays (53) in the nation. Roschon Johnson will be a key factor this week, as the lack of a running game threat will just put more pressure on Ehlinger. As the defensive struggles continue, the ‘Horns ability to make big plays on offense will be key against a team that does not turn the ball over frequently.
4. Early Dogs
While Texas is currently a 1.5-point favorite over TCU, oddsmakers were not very confident in Texas when the lines opened up earlier this week. Following a close call vs. Kansas, TCU opened as a 2.5 favorite over the 15th ranked team in the country. The money was swinging towards TCU and this was really a sign of the country's aggregate opinion of the Longhorns. While this is a conference road game for Texas, something tells me that we would have seen a different opening spread if this game occurred week one. While the players might not be following the spread of the game, one thing is for sure: The Longhorns know they are playing with a chip on their shoulder. Being the No. 15 team in the country, you would think the underdog mentality would be with TCU. However, Texas will have to play each game like it's their last from here on out.
5. Defensive Injury Updates
According to Coach Herman in his press conference on Thursday after practice:
- Jalen Green, DB (Shoulder): Probable
- B.J. Foster, DB (Shoulder): Game-Time Decision
- DeMarvion Overshown, DB (Back): Game-Time Decision
If there is a time for this Texas team to bounce back, it is this weekend. On the road against a conference opponent in a game that Longhorn critics would love to see them drop, Texas will do everything they can do avoid that third loss of the season. We know the offense is talented, the defense will get a couple bodies back this week, and Texas will try to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this season. The TCU homefield advantage will certainly help them on Saturday, but I believe that Texas is going to win this game.