Heading into Saturday’s contest, the Texas Longhorns and No. 8 TCU Horned Frogs are both teams with a lot to play for. Texas continues to search for the right formula to win one of these Top-10 meetings, while TCU must win out in order to remain player in the College Football Playoff landscape.
TCU may be the most balanced team in the Big 12, however unlike most of their conference mates, their defense is the dominant unit.
The Horned Frogs are absolutely stifling on the defensive side of the ball, allowing just 286.8 yards per game to opponents through eight games. Their rushing defense is the most noteworthy facet, giving up an average of 77.3 yards per game on the ground. This stingy defense led to success on the scoreboard, as the TCU defense allows opponents just two scores per game, averaging 14.8 points per game this season.
Texas Christian brings an experienced and dynamic defense to the table, anchored by senior middle linebacker Travin Howard; who has amassed 60 total tackles and 6.5 sacks with four games left in the season.
When Howard isn’t causing issues in the backfield, junior defensive end Ben Banogu picks up the reins. The 6’4, 245-pound pass rusher has managed 9.5 tackles for loss this season, including 4.5 sacks.
Backing up them up is a Horned Frogs’ secondary filled with ball hawks that don’t mind coming up to play run support.
Senior safety Nick Orr leads the charge in pass defense, with two interceptions to go with his 43 tackles, Orr is followed closely by Ridwan Issahaku who turned in 40 tackles, four broken-up passes and an interception this season. The junior corner is big on pass defense, both in coverage, breaking up seven pass attempts, as well as sacking the quarterback on two occasions.
Because of their high-caliber defense, the TCU offense has enjoyed comfortable margins as they move the ball efficiently, but without the flash and flare than other Big 12 schools.
The Horned Frogs rank No. 33 in the country in total offense with 446.6 yards per play, which is simply sixth-best in a 10-team conference.
Senior quarterback Kenny Hill makes this offense move, both with his arm and ability to keep plays alive with his feet. In his senior season, Hill has thrown for 1,863 yards and 15 touchdowns, while completing 158-of-223 passes this year. However, in the loss to Iowa State Hill struggled, only completing 12-of-25 attempts for 135 yards and two interceptions. Going into the contest against Iowa State, Hill had thrown three in the previous seven games.
As Texas continues to work its way back into relevance, both in the conference level and national perception, a win over TCU would serve as a benchmark to show that Texas may actually be improving. Additionally, if the Longhorns do pull out a win, it all but guarantees a bowl berth with 1-7 Kansas looming next week.