For better or worse, Friday’s meeting with TCU is going to be an emotional one for the Texas Longhorns. Returning home to Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium for the season finale, Friday will serve as the ‘Horns’ Senior Day with bowl eligibility on the line and rumors of Charlie Strong’s future swirling as powerfully as ever. A win would mean Texas is headed for postseason football for the second time in three seasons under Strong and the ‘Horns head coach will likely once again be hoisted in the air on the shoulders of a team that loves and supports him at a level rarely seen. A loss, on the other hand, would see Texas match last season’s 5-7 effort and likely the last time Strong boasts burnt orange inside DKR.
Fortunately for the ‘Horns, the 2016 version of TCU is a shell of the powerhouse program Gary Patterson was growing accustomed to after a 23-3 mark during the previous two seasons. Rather, following the departure of numerous veterans and NFL-caliber talents, TCU saw a 3-1 start in 2016 be overshadowed by four losses in the last six games, with the only victories coming against Kansas (24-23) and Baylor (62-22).
The Horned Frogs offense is nestled just inside the top 20 in yards per game (493) and is considerably down across the board compared to the previous two seasons. If it wasn’t evident by the 5-5 record, TCU is nearing the conclusion of a rebuilding year that’s seen inefficient quarterback play - Kenny Hill’s 12 interceptions is the eight-most in the nation — and a rushing attack that hasn’t exactly been complimentary, ranking 50th (190.9 YPG).
TCU’s defense is solid behind a secondary led by safety Travin Howard and Nick Orr and a front six in Patterson’s 4-2-5 defense leads the Big 12 and ranks third in the nation in sacks per game with 3.6, while allowing only 3.76 yards per carry in 2016.
In reality, though, stats and everything the two teams have done up to this point quite simply become fairly meaningless on Friday. Courtesy of an athletic department that reportedly leaked the news of Strong’s dismissal, only to release a statement hours later that a decision is yet to be made and the ‘Horns head coach will be evaluated following TCU, it’s likely Texas plays its most inspired football of the season, surpassing the Notre Dame game. If the Texas players do, in fact, believe there’s still time to save the coach they support quite passionately, the final opportunity to do so will be against TCU.
It’s Senior Day during the season finale with bowl eligibility on the line for a team with hopes of a performance worthy of earning its head coach another season on the 40 Acres. More so than anything else, emotions and how well Strong’s group can control them likely dictates the outcome.
· Tyrone Swoopes – QB
· Trey Holtz - QB
· Jimmy Greenwood – QB
· Logan Vinlarek - QB
· Kent Perkins – RT
· Frank Lopez – OL
· Caleb Bluiett – TE
· Quincy Vasser – TE
· Matt Center - TE
· Jacorey Warrick – WR
· Ty Templin – WR
· Ryan Roberts – WR
· Paul Boyette Jr. – DT
· Alex Marcado – DT
· Bryce Cottrell – DE
· David Gonzalez - DE
· Timothy Cole – LB
· Johnny Tseng – LB
· Sheroid Evans – CB
· Connor Huffman - DB
· Dylan Haines – S
· Kevin Vaccaro – S
· Trent Domingue – K
· Matthew Sims - K
· Friday will be the 87th meeting between Texas and TCU dating back to 1897.
· Texas holds a 62-23-1 all-time series edge.
· Texas owns the series’ longest win streak with 24 consecutive victories (1968-1991).
· TCU won the last two meetings by scores of 50-7 and 48-10, respectively.
· Gary Patterson is 3-2 against Texas, including a 3-1 mark since joining the Big 12 in 2012.
· TCU owns a 2-0 record against Texas in Austin as members of the Big 12.
What to know about TCU
· TCU’s 5-5 record through 10 games is its worst mark since 2013 (4-6).
· TCU is one victory shy of bowl eligibility. Reaching a bowl would mark the 14th time TCU has done so under Patterson in 16 seasons.
· The Horned Frogs are 34-12 following a regular season loss under Patterson. TCU lost to Oklahoma State 31-6 last week.
· The Horned Frogs are 3-1 on the road this season.
Horned Frogs to watch
· Travin Howard - Howard’s 10.8 tackles per game lead the Big 12 and ranks fifth nationally. He’s the first Horned Frog with back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since Martin Patterson in 2003-04.
· Josh Carraway – A legitimate NFL prospect, the senior defensive end has recorded seven sacks on the season as part of a defense that leads the Big 12 in sacks.
· Taj Williams - The junior receiver leads TCU in receptions (36), receiving yards (679) and receiving scores (5). Williams averages 18.9 yards per reception.
· Kyle Hicks - Hicks leads TCU in rushing yards with 836 and is second on the team in receptions with 36. The junior has combined for 1,199 yards and 17 scores as a rusher and receiver.
· Texas has been bowl eligible 53 times, which is the second-most in NCAA history behind Alabama. A win against TCU would mark the 54th bowl eligible season is school history and the second under Charlie Strong.
· D’Onta Foreman is just 262 yards shy of breaking Ricky Williams single season school rushing record (2,124). Foreman has 1,863 yards through nine games in 2016.
· Foreman currently leads the nation is rushing yards (1,863) and rushing yards per game (186.3).
· Foreman broke Earl Campbell’s record of 11-straight 100-yard games last week against Kansas with his 12th consecutive such performance.
· Senior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is 49 yards shy of 1,000 career rushing yards; a feat that would place Swoopes alongside Vince Young and Colt McCoy and the only players in school history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a career.
Texas’ seven 500-yard offensive showings this season is the most in school history.