TCU Horned Frogs (5-5 SU, 2-8 ATS) vs. Texas Longhorns (5-6 SU, 6-5 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Friday, November 25, 2016 at 3:30PM EST
Where: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
TV: Fox Sports
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TCU +2.5/TEX -2.5
Over/Under Total: 60
The TCU Horned Frogs face the Texas Longhorns in Big 12 action on Friday. Neither team has really had a positive season. Texas’ failings have been a big story this past weekend, with coach Charlie Strong reportedly being canned with this being his last game after a really bad loss to Kansas on Saturday. TCU, meanwhile, is 5-5 and trying to get into bowl position with one more regular season game after this. The Horned Frogs have dropped 3 of their last 4, including a 31-6 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Texas faces a difficult situation headed into this week and one wonders how it will resonate. When it’s a case of Dead Man Walking with the head coach, it can resonate in one of two ways. Strong tried to do some things the right way and for that, he has earned some people’s appreciation. At the same time, if he was still getting across to his players, they wouldn’t be losing to a one-win Kansas team on Saturday that had lost 19 straight Big 12 games. Even if it’s his farewell game, can this team even respond in the affirmative at this point?
Texas’ season-opening win over Notre Dame when they scored a thrilling 50-47 double-overtime win was less than three months ago and now it seems like an eternity. With such a letdown after that game, Strong’s situation, and the loss to a Kansas team that looked like it might never win another Big 12 game has painted a dire picture—maybe too dire. They won five times this season, with wins over a 6-0 Baylor team among their highlights. They even held their own in losses to ranked teams like Oklahoma and West Virginia. They’ve covered the spread 6 times in 11 games.
That’s not meant to sugar-coat the situation with the beleaguered Longhorns. Losing to Kansas is a really horrible development. But with the litany of negativity filling everyone’s head about UT, maybe it needs to be reeled in a bit. TCU is by no means a lock coming into Austin. Texas has fared well in this context this season before and maybe the idea of going to a bowl game and Strong’s finale gives them a little push. There are some pieces on both sides of the ball that offer promise, though they really didn’t put it together this season when many projected they would.
Longhorns quarterback Shane Buechele has done OK in his first year behind center on a college team. He has completed over 62% of his throws with 2740 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has thrown ten picks and three of them came against Kansas, which was a big part of that loss. Their key playmaker is a good back in D’Onta Foreman, who is near the top in the nation with 1863 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. They have also used Tyrone Swoppes, Chris Warren III, and Buechele in some runs, which has been the shining part of an offense that can get business done. Aerially, Armanti Foreman, Dorian Leonard, Devin Devernay, Jacorey Warrick, Jerrod Heard, and Collin Johnson have all caught three touchdowns apiece.
The Texas defense allows over 31 points a game. The pass-defense has been laughable at times this season, which is costly in this conference. And they’re not that great against the run. Some guys have made plays, with Dylan Haines having picked off four passes. Defensive end Breckyn Hager has gotten after quarterbacks this season, but this side of the ball has been a major letdown and detriment to this team.
TCU managing 6 points against a so-so Oklahoma State defense and getting blanked for the last three quarters of the game isn’t all that much more positive than losing to Kansas in overtime. The Horned Frogs only beat Kansas by one point earlier in the season, by the way. They weren’t even slightly competitive after the fast start against the Cowboys. The problems for Texas Christian are multifold. On offense, the insertion of Kenny Hill hasn’t really resulted in great returns. The talented quarterback has 15 TDs and 12 picks and has run in 7 scores. A total of 15 TDs is a little light with the 2860 yards of passing he has. They put up points at times and have playmakers like RB Kyle Hicks with 12 touchdowns and receivers like Taj Williams. The aerial distribution has been widespread, as they lack a real star in the passing game. They’re a top 20 offense in terms of total yards. But with the defense they have and compared to recent high-flying TCU teams, they leave something to be desired. And Saturday’s 6-point output was a real low point.
The TCU defense showed its limitations on Saturday, giving up 334 yards on the ground to the Cowboys. They have a pass-defense that is ranked 100th in the nation. It was a bit quizzical since they had looked so good against Baylor in their previous game, got a week off, and then laid an egg against Oklahoma State. End Josh Caraway has been good rushing the passer. Nick Orr has made some plays in the secondary, but they’ve been really inconsistent and completely undependable.
It’s easy to perceive Texas as being in really bad shape heading into this spot. All the headlines could send a bad message to the brain of all involved in the Texas effort. While one doesn’t get the feeling that there is a lack of player respect with coach Strong, he never really seemed to move this group, either. Then you look over at TCU and what they looked like last week and it’s not an easy call. I see TCU exploiting an emotionally-depleted Texas team on Friday.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Texas Christian Horned Frogs plus 2.5 points.
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