Arkansas Razorbacks at TCU Horned Frogs, Saturday Sept. 10, 7 p.m. ET
Up until the early 1990s, this matchup was an annual rivalry as both teams were members of the Southwest Conference. It was definitely lopsided towards Arkansas, though in the second last game in 1990 TCU pulled off a bit of a stunner, winning by 28 as two-touchdown road underdogs. They haven't played since 1991 when Arkansas left the SWC for the SEC and set off the conference shuffling that is still underway today.
Not much has changed for Arkansas, really - they have gone up and down and are somewhere in between right now. For TCU, though, pretty much everything has changed. They bounced around like a rubber ball after the SWC collapsed - they started in the WAC and slowly climbed their way up the ladder to their current major-conference home in the Big 12. Their level of play was major conference well before their affiliation was. So, on Saturday night we relive SWC glory as both teams fight for relevance in their current conference.
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Arkansas at TCU Betting Storylines
Both Gary Patterson and Bret Bielema can coach. They have proven that more than once over the years. If last week was the first time you had seen either one in action, though, you might have had your doubts. Both teams won, but they were the kind of wins in which you just want to burn the video and pretend they never happened. Really ugly.
Arkansas needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to get past Louisiana Tech 21-20. It's even worse than it seems, too - the Bulldogs were forced to play their backup QB. Louisiana Tech is a decent team, but an SEC team should not struggle to get past a decent C-USA squad. Heck, if Arkansas wants to be relevant in the SEC they should be able to beat the best C-USA can throw at them without breaking a sweat. The Razorbacks threw two interceptions - one of which was just epically awful - and just looked generally sloppy on both sides of the ball. It was far from where the team should be at this point - especially on offense. Most strikingly, they didn't run the ball nearly as effectively as we have come to expect from them.
Bielema probably had a sleepless night after the game, but not anything like what Patterson faced. There were positives for TCU for sure. New quarterback Kenny Hill threw for 439 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran for three more as well as the Horned Frogs put up 59 points. The bad news, though, is that they gave up 41 points to South Dakota State, an FCS team that was 8-4 last year and looked like they didn't know a single thing about playing defense. They tackled like they were allergic to it. For a program that was not so long ago known for their defensive play, and a coach with a strong defensive background, it was strikingly ugly.
So we have an Arkansas offense that couldn't do anything like they should be able to up against a TCU defense that couldn't stop anything. Something has to change.
Arkansas at TCU Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with TCU favored by 10 points, but that has quickly fallen to 7.5. A slight majority of bets have been placed on Arkansas, so it's clear that we had some early sharp action quite aggressively hitting the Razorbacks. The total opened at 60 and has fallen slightly to 58.5.
The Razorbacks have covered the spread in their last five road games and are 7-1 ATS in their last eight against the Big 12. They are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 overall but just 1-4 ATS in their last five nonconference games and 0-4 ATS in their last four September games. The Horned Frogs are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 home games and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 neutral-site games. They are 20-9 ATS in their last 29 games overall but just 1-4 ATS in their last five in September.
Arkansas at TCU Predictions and Picks
The sharp bettors have moved this line and have made TCU playable in my eyes. There is a lot both teams need to work on, but TCU will be able to score, and I have more faith in their ability to do some work on defense than I do in Arkansas' ability to score enough to keep up here. TCU has a solid edge in coaching, and was the better team according to perception heading into the season. I'll take TCU, and I'll hold off on making the bet for a while in hopes that the line moves down that key half point.
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