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Staff Predictions: Texas-TCU

Thursday's TCU game became much more significant with Kansas State losing to Baylor last week. Before the weekend it was a game Texas needed to win to keep the positive mojo going and improve its resume for a potential Cotton Bowl berth. Now it's a game Texas needs to win to give it a chance to potentially steal the Big 12 crown on the final week of the season against K-State.

David Ash must take care of the football against a TCU team that's recorded 26 takeaways this season.

The Horned Frogs are taking Texas A&M's seat at the Thanksgiving table this year. Even though the passion for the game isn't as intense as it would have been with the Aggies, TCU presents a tough challenge for Texas with one of the best defenses in the Big 12 and athletes littered throughout the offense.

Will the Longhorns extend their league-leading four-game win streak, or will TCU pull off the upset in its first Turkey Day game against Texas? The staff weighs in.

I expect the Texas offense to be slowed and to be unable to hit the big deep ball. That means Texas will have to grind it out on offense, and the Horns will likely score somewhere in the 20s to even the low-30s. So there's the flip side to consider. How does the UT defense stack up to the TCU offense? Texas does not match up particularly well. The zone read is particularly hard on linebackers and Texas has only one LB playing at an appropriate level. Then there's the fact that TCU has two terrific receivers, Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter. Texas needs to stop the run and limit the big plays by the receivers. In the end, I expect Texas to pull it out but I also expect the ups and downs of the game to be an emotional roller coaster.
Texas 23, TCU 20

If this one is closer than expected it shouldn't be an indication that Texas has taken a step back. This is TCU's Super Bowl. The 6-4 record will be forgotten by just about anyone who cares about the program if the Horned Frogs can defeat the Longhorns. Texas needs to come prepared with a hard hat on and a lunch pail in hand because it'll be a full day's work on Thursday night. This will be the best defense Texas has seen since Oklahoma, and the argument can certainly be made that the Horned Frogs have more impact players in their front seven than the Sooners. Gary Patterson will have his team prepared but if the Longhorns continue to play mistake free football on offense and can avoid consistently giving up the big play on defense then things should fall in line for a Texas win. TCU has the desire but I'm not sure they have the depth or can generate enough offense consistently to take a game away from a more talented Texas team in the fourth quarter.
Texas 31, TCU 20

This TCU defense will be the best defense Texas has seen since Oklahoma, and it may even be better than the Sooners. The two defensive ends will give the Longhorn offensive line a huge test, and the TCU secondary will be ready to pounce on any mistakes - the Horned Frogs are 6th in the country with 17 interceptions. Taking care of the football will be key when Texas has the ball. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tevone Boykin and the TCU offense haven't been able to consistently put up points, and they'll likely need some short fields to put up enough to keep up with the Longhorns. Texas face a tough duo of running backs in B.J. Catalon and Matthew Tucker, so look out for some two-back sets, something that's troubled Texas all year. The key may be Boykin, who's been Jekyll and Hyde in the Horned Frogs' two wins and four losses since he took over. He has the physical ability to throw for big yards and also hurt you with his legs. If the Longhorns can keep him under control and avoid falling asleep on the tremendous athletes at wide receiver they'll be able to slow TCU enough to get the win. I think this Texas team gets a big test from TCU on Thanksgiving, but I'll take David Ash over Boykin and the Longhorns over the Horned Frogs.
Texas 28, TCU 24

If Texas is to win out and end in the BCS bowl game and Big 12 title talks, the Longhorns will have to win at home on Thanksgiving day against the best defense they have faced this season. TCU's Gary Patterson is as good as it gets in college football in scheming and game-planning on a week in, week out basis, and the ability of the Texas offensive line to protect against two difference makers on the line for TCU is going to be key. If Texas can hold up on the offensive line, the Texas offense will score points and make plays against a fairly green TCU back seven. On the flip side, the Texas defense will have to play disciplined against a quarterback that can make plays with his feet. The key for TCU is pretty much the same as Texas on offense, the Horned Frogs offensive line has to protect as Boykin is likely to make arrant throws under duress due to inexperience. Make no mistake, this is a game Patterson wants very badly, and Texas simply has to win. 
Texas 34, TCU 23

The Horned Frogs might be 6-4, but they’re going to come in to Austin with a chip on their shoulder and expecting to win this game.  Texas will have to bring its A-game on both offense and defense in order to pull out a victory in Austin on Thanksgiving night.  This means that the defense will have to continue the level of play we’ve seen from them since the Texas Tech game.  If they can get to freshman Trevone Boykin and apply pressure, then the Horns’ D should force a few turnovers and let the offense do its thing.  Speaking of the offense, they’re going to have to step up as well, as Gary Patterson should be ready for the Texas rushing attack.  Quarterback David Ash will need to rely on his receivers just as much as his running backs.  I like the Horns in this one and think they get their ninth win of the season.
Texas 34, TCU 21

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