When Texas A&M announced it was bolting the Big 12 for the SEC, the University of Texas told the Aggies that their heated rivalry would be over. And UT has stuck to its word. So Thanksgiving Night will look a bit different this year as TCU steps in for A&M in the only college game of the day. But the Frogs will not be the annual Thanksgiving opponent for UT (which wants to keep that game because of its national prominence).
In fact, Texas Tech could be the team next year. Nothing has been officially announced, but recently a TTU athletic department staffer tweeted that the Red Raiders will play Texas next season in Austin on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28). Texas has played on Thanksgiving 75 times dating to 1895, including 64 games against the Aggies.
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TCU (6-4, 3-4) has had a disappointing first season in the Big 12, although the loss of starting QB Casey Pachall certainly played a big role. TCU is looking for its first win of the season over a ranked team, having lost to then-ranked Texas Tech, West Virginia and Kansas State (also Iowa State).
No. 16 Texas (8-2, 5-2) still has an outside shot of winning the Big 12 and taking the automatic BCS bowl berth. The Horns would have to win this game and next week at Kansas State (which doesn’t look so far-fetched any longer). They also would have to have Oklahoma lose this week in the Bedlam Game vs. Oklahoma State and next week at TCU.
TCU at Texas Betting Storylines
Coach Gary Patterson, whom you know will again be rumored for some SEC job openings this season, has one of the youngest teams in the nation. The Frogs have played 16 freshmen and another 10 redshirt freshmen. In all, 21 Frogs have made their first career start. The only team with more is Hawaii.
One of those youngsters is starting QB Trevone Boykin. He took over when Pachall left the team and had typical freshman up-and-downs, throwing for 1,540 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight picks. He has at least one interception in the past four games and has failed to complete 60 percent of his passes in any of those. (TCU is 1-3). Boykin was sacked five times and finished with -13 yards net rushing last time out against K-State.
TCU’s defense isn’t as dominant as it used to be but still leads the Big 12 (No. 7 nationally) in rushing defense at 98.4 yards per game. Linebacker Kenny Cain is the only senior on the two-deep defense, which is hard to believe.
Meanwhile, the Horns are No. 13 nationally in points behind surprisingly stellar play from QB David Ash. In UT’s last win over Iowa State, Ash threw for career-high 364 yards and two scores as UT reached 600 yards of offense for the second time in 2012. Ash leads the Big 12 in passer rating. WR Mike Davis ranks first in the Big 12 and fifth in the FBS in yards per reception at 18.6.
Offense hasn’t been the problem, defense has. In back-to-back losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma the Longhorns were gashed for a combined 111 points. They also allowed Baylor to score 50 but managed 56 of their own. The unit has been much better in the past three games. Through the first seven games, Texas had allowed 35 points and 472 yards per game. In its last three, Texas has allowed 15.3 points and 330 yards per game. UT still ranks last in the Big 12 in rushing defense, surrendering an average of 200 yards per game.
These former Southwest Conference rivals are meeting for the first time in five years. It’s the first TCU game on Thanksgiving since 1928.
TCU at Texas Betting Odds and Trends
On WagerWeb, Texas is a seven-point favorite with the total at 58. TCU is 4-6 ATS this season and 4-5 “over/under”. UT is 5-5 ATS and 5-5 O/U.
TCU is 6-0 ATS in its past six after a bye week. The Frogs are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a loss. Texas is 4-0 ATS in its past four after a bye. UT is 5-2 ATS in its past seven after a win. The under is 5-1 in TCU’s past six Thursday games. The under is 5-2 in Texas’ past seven home games.
College Football Picks: TCU at Texas Predictions
TCU had the nation’s longest home winning streak for a while there but has dropped three at home this season, so maybe it’s a good thing this one is in Austin. TCU’s 23-3 record (.885) in road and neutral-site games since 2009 is the third-best in the nation. Should the Frogs win the turnover battle, they will most likely win the game. They are 47-1 in their past 48 games when winning the turnover battle. TCU has 16 takeaways in its past four road games. Texas has forced 16 turnovers this season and committed just eight (third-fewest in FBS). UT has not committed a turnover in its last nine quarters of action.
For what it’s worth, Texas has won 15 straight at home in this series, but obviously that doesn’t involve any current players. I do think playing on Thanksgiving Night is an event and that the fact UT is used to it will be an advantage. Plus, the Horns are still playing for something tangible. I could see this ending in a push, but at seven I would lean Texas. Anything higher probably would change that to TCU. Also take the under.
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