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Texas-TCU: The match up by the numbers

The numbers that matter shed light on how the Thanksgiving game will play out.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns end the regular season against the TCU Horned Frogs at home on Thursday evening.

Here's a look at the numbers and what they saw about the match up.

0 -- The number of pass plays longer than 40 yards Texas has given up

With only one game left in the season, Texas is one of only two teams in the country that hasn't given up a long pass play this season, categorized here as 40 or more yards. Even though the Texas secondary isn't full of clear future NFL talents, the unit has performed exceptionally well -- on the few times that opposing receivers have been running free, none of those passes have connected.

On Thursday, Texas will face off against a team that has produced 13 passing plays of 40 or more yards, which ranks No. 7 in the country. Eight of them have gone for 50 or more, three for 70 or more, and one for more than 90 yards, a 92-yard pass to wide receiver Deante' Gray that was a simple stop route, showcasing the ability of the Horned Frogs pass catchers to take a short catch and turn it into a huge gain.

Can the Longhorns continue to avoid those back-breaking big plays or will the Horned Frogs do what they have done all season?

1 -- Number of offensive touchdowns allowed in the opening quarter by the Texas defense

The Longhorns haven't always gotten off to quick starts offensively this season, but the defense has performed consistently in the opening 15 minutes. At home, that means a chance to score a quick offensive touchdown or two and get the crowd into the game while making the opponent face some adversity early and get away from the running game.

Can Texas hold the TCU offense down in the opening frame? It could be the difference between an early lead and a deficit that gets the Longhorns out of their preferred game plan on offense.

1 -- The number of TCU safety Chris Hackett

Typically a reliable player and a three-year starter for the Horned Frogs, Hackett has experienced some struggles this season as perhaps the most inconsistent player in the secondary, giving up some big plays.

Whether running the type of wheel route to junior wide receiver Marcus Johnson that worked last season in Fort Worth or giving freshman wide receiver Armanti Foreman a chance to get vertical from the slot as he did against Oklahoma State could create the big plays necessary in a match up against Hackett.

Look for play caller Shawn Watson and sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes to get Hackett in coverage and try to capitalize with another long pass play or two against him.

3.05 -- The average yards per carry against the Horned Frogs defense

Besides Baylor running for 272 yards on 54 carries (5.04 yards per carry), no one has average more than 3.62 yards per carry against TCU this season. With Texas 8-3 when senior running back Malcolm Brown runs for 100 yards or more and 5-0 when junior running back Johnathan Gray runs for 100 or more yards, it's clear that Texas will have an excellent chance to win the game if either one can reach that mark.

Obviously, however, it won't be easy -- the yards per carry against average ranks tied for ninth nationally and the rush defense ranks No. 14 in rush S&P for TCU. The success is a result of the stout defensive front is stout and the two rangy, active linebackers in Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallett.

Can Texas line up and run against TCU the way that they have the last several weeks? West Virginia had a good run defense coming into the game, but the head coach Gary Patterson's unit has more talent and better production.

What about getting out of the heavy sets and lead/man/gap series being run by offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline? The 4-2-5 defense run by the Horned Frogs makes it easy to leverage the running game, so running jet sweeps isn't really an easy answer, although perhaps doing out out of the bunch formation could compact it enough.

9.7 -- The yards per carry for TCU running back Aaron Green over the last five games

A 62-yard run helped the San Antonio Madison product and Nebraska transfer finally break out at TCU against Texas Tech, launching him into the most successful stretch of his college career, during which he has gained 466 yards and scored four touchdowns, making up for the absence of starter BJ Catalon the last two games.

Coming out of high school as the 247Sports Composite No. 5 running back nationally, he was known for his explosiveness and ability in the open field, which was on display against the Wildcats:

The 65-yard run against Kansas State shows how dangerous Green can be. It's a simple zone play, but with the Wildcats so spread out, all it takes is the linebacker with a poor fit, Green getting outside with a block from his wide receiver, then making two players miss to get across the field again and into the end zone.

The Air Raid offense is designed to create space and that works for the running game as well as it does for the passing game with four wide receiver sets the norm for the Horned Frogs.

Since Catalon is questionable, Green will have his opportunities and could pose some problems for the Horns if he gets into the open field.

14 -- The turnover margin for the Horned Frogs

The offense has protected the football with the improved decision making of quarterback Trevone Boykin and the defense has been opportunistic, coming up with 11 recovered fumbles and 17 interceptions. Overall, the defense is tied for fifth nationally in takeaways and the overall turnover margin of +14 ranks No. 4.

The clear takeaway? The offense doesn't hurt itself and the defense is setting up some short fields for it with big plays. Since the Longhorns don't force many fumbles and Boykin isn't likely to throw multiple interceptions -- he hasn't done so since his last start in 2013 -- the impetus will be on the Texas offense to avoid miscues and hope the defense can come up with a couple of game-changing plays.

24 -- The percentage of catches that have gone for a touchdown for TCU wide receiver Deante' Gray

In gaining 486 yards on only 29 catches, the junior from Houston is averaging 16.76 yards per catch and scoring touchdowns on almost one in four receptions. After missing the last two games, he'll be back on Thursday and should provide a boost for the already explosive offense.

Here's how dangerous he can be:

This was a stop route where Gray broke the tackle of his defender in coverage, split two more defenders, then made an incredible inside cut to run away from everyone.

As mentioned with the running game, this is an offense based around playing in space and few players in the Big 12 are more dangerous in space than Gray.

70 -- The yardage of a touchdown pass to Kansas State's Tyler Locketts versus TCU

The Horned Frog secondary has been prone to some big mistakes this season and the Wildcats were able to exploit a one-on-one match up when they went with a 4x1 look to get both safeties to the field side and then sent Lockett right up the field, where he shook the cornerback.

This may be the type of match up that Texas wants to get for John Harris. It probably won't turn into a 70-yard touchdown, but he has the physicality and ball skills to make plays against TCU as he has done all season.

126 -- Where TCU ranks in giving up opposing passing plays of 40 or more yards

This is a pretty experience secondary and a pretty talented secondary, but it has been giving up big plays. This is a game that Texas will have to win in the passing game on the arm of Swoopes, who has now thrown 138 passes with only one interception.

With four 300-yard passing games, only five quarterbacks have more such performances in their entire careers, putting Swoopes into pretty elite company as a Texas passer.

Can he continue to make steps forward or will he regress once again, as has been the pattern for him this season after a positive performance?