On Saturday (11/11/23), the Texas Longhorns travel to face the TCU Horned Frogs in a fascinating Big 12 matchup. In this article, find a full preview of the game and the latest betting odds. In addition, find our best bet which is under 55 points.
Texas Longhorns Vs. TCU Horned Frogs Prediction
Last season, TCU earned a major road upset over Texas on its way to a surprising berth in the College Football Playoff. The Horned Frogs have taken a major step back in 2023, though, with a 4-5 overall record. Meanwhile Texas brings an 8-1 record to Fort Worth with eyes towards the Big 12 championship which will be taking place 15 miles east in Arlington next month.
First, the Longhorns must clear a few more hurdles, and that includes a TCU defense that gave them fits last season in holding them to 10 points. Texas gets starting quarterback Quinn Ewers back for this game, but TCU defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie had his number last year, utilizing his 3-3-5 scheme to hold Ewers to a season low 4.4 yards per attempt and 48.4 PFF passing grade.
The 3-3-5 scheme is uniquely problematic for Ewers as it takes away one-on-one opportunities downfield and forces him to make tight window throws. His issues with the deep ball haven’t changed this season as Ewers has completed just 29.2% of his 20+ yard throws – that ranks well below national average and is a downgrade from last year.
Texas’s offense has had issues overall this season, particularly as they rank just 75th in finishing drives. Their red zone play calling has been uninspiring at times, and they’re too often settling for 3 points rather than 7 when they get into opponent territory. That could rear its ugly head against TCU’s defense, particularly if Ewers still isn’t at 100% after his shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, TCU’s offense has been uninspiring this season, regardless of whether it’s been Chandler Morris or true freshman Josh Hoover under center. After a tremendous debut against a very beatable BYU secondary, Hoover has six turnover-worthy plays to just one big-time throw over the past two weeks per PFF.
Offensive coordinator Kendall Briles has proven to be a tremendous downgrade from Garrett Riley, and like Texas, they struggle to finish drives, ranking 92nd in that regard. Texas’s defense ranks top 30 in EPA against the run and pass, so I don’t anticipate many easy opportunities for the TCU offense.
Both of these teams have played to the under all season, going a combined 12-6 to the under, and I’m anticipating another lower-scoring game here. The total was inflated due to positive news about Ewers making his return, but I still like the under here given the issues the TCU defense presented for him last season.
Texas Vs. TCU Prediction: Under 55 Points
Texas Vs. TCU Best Odds
The odds in this game moved some with the news of Quinn Ewers making his return for Texas. After sitting at 10 points earlier in the week, it jumped to -12.5 in favor of the Longhorns. Meanwhile, the over/under sits at the key number of 55 for the time being after coming up a bit due to Ewers’s status.
Texas Vs. TCU Key Matchups
When these Big 12 foes face off on Saturday, there will be some crucial players on both sides of the ball that help determine the outcome. Let’s break some of those matchups down.
Jonathan Brooks Vs. TCU’s Run Defense
With Bijan Robinson off to the NFL, junior Jonathan Brooks has become Texas’s starting running back, and he’s having a tremendous season. Brooks has forced 60 missed tackles this season, the fifth-most in the country, on his way to over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s PFF’s seventh-highest graded running back in the FBS.
If Ewers’s downfield passing is compromised in this matchup, Texas will rely on a big game from Brooks. TCU held Bijan Robinson to just 12 carries for 29 yards last season, but they’re merely middle of the pack against the run this season as they rank 70th in EPA/play allowed. Linebacker Namdi Obiazor, who leads the team with 34 run stops per PFF, is one to watch.
Texas RBs Jonathon Brooks and CJ Baxter have combined for 171 rush yards on 20 rushes. pic.twitter.com/dG2si5JLFI
— RJ Young (@RJ_Young) November 4, 2023
JP Richardson Vs. Texas’s Pass Defense
If TCU wants to get its passing offense going, it has to start with slot receiver JP Richardson. A transfer from Oklahoma State, Richardson had his first career 100-yard game in Josh Hoover’s breakout game against BYU a few weeks ago. Since then, Richardson has caught just six balls on 16 targets (37.5%).
This matchup doesn’t exactly set up as a get right game against a stout Texas secondary, although it is worth noting that Richardson had seven catches for 63 yards against Texas while with Oklahoma State last year. Safety Jahdae Barron, who has by far the most snaps in the slot for the Longhorns, will match up with Richardson here. Barron has allowed just a 50% catch rate and a 53.3 passer rating in coverage per PFF.
— Reel Analytics (@RAanalytics) October 18, 2023