Today’s Bet: Texas Longhorns ML @ (1.90/-110)
Saturday will feature one of the best rivalries in Texas. The Texas Longhorns vs. the TCU Horned Frogs. A game that features TCU as a home underdog facing 15th ranked Texas. In a game that is essentially a pick em’ we search for little edges that will get us over the top today. Let’s get into it:
TCU Offense vs. Texas Defense:
We begin with this matchup as we see weakness vs. weakness. We see a TCU team that ranks 108 out of 130 teams in terms of passing yards at just 185.6 per game on average. Texas, on the other hand, has a passing defense that is ranked 123rd out of 130 teams allowing 310 yards per game through the air. Something has to give, so let’s dig deeper into it. Although Texas has struggled against the pass their only two losses this season have came against LSU (who ranks 3rd in passing yards per game) and Oklahoma (who ranks 8th in passing yards per game). Additionally, these are both teams who throw the ball deep down the field and look for big plays as both rank in the top 10 in passing yards per attempt. TCU is anything but that, they rank 107th in passing yards per attempt as they slowly look to move the ball down the field. Texas has injuries to their secondary but will be helped by the fact TCU also only throws the ball 40.46% of their totals plays meaning they are more of a run-first type of team thus far. Despite being horrible against the pass Texas has been slightly better against the run and perhaps better than people give them credit for. While they gave up 190 rushing yards to Kansas running back Pooka Willaims Jr. it’s worth mentioning one of these carries was for 65 yards, likewise, they gave up 105 yards to Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks who had one run for 42 yards. TCU running back Darius Johnson has been good, but note he has only had two games with a rush of 37 yards or more all season. If Texas can limit the big plays we think they’ll do well as TCU Max Duggan has yet to complete 20 or more passes in a game all season. The key for Texas will be their ability to limit Duggan as he’s a dual-threat QB. They will have some familiarity with this style of offense already going up against both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who have rushing QB’s Jalen Hurts and Spencer Sanders. However, in this type of game, TCU will need to be able to control the time of possession and if this game turns into a high scoring game, TCU will need to have the ability to throw the ball. We are not sure if they can do that, as we think Texas and their offense will be able to put up some points.
Texas Offense vs. TCU Defense
While Texas and their offense will go up against one of the best defenses in the country as TCU has ranked 14th in total defense allowing 297.4 yards per game. TCU’s strength rests on their defense’s shoulders but the secondary has been hit hard recently and can be taken advantage of. Although their defense ranks 30th in terms of passing yards allowed, they happen to rank 70th in yards per completion. Texas overall is a pretty balanced offense with about a 50/50 split between run plays and pass plays. Texas has been able to run the ball ranking 45th in rushing yards per attempt and TCU will have to respect the run. This opens the door for Texas to complete big plays down the field and exploit the weakness we mentioned. It’s worth noting how Texas ranks 34th in passing yards per attempt meaning when they throw the ball, it’s typically down the field. This is key as TCU has yet to show the ability to rush the QB and generate sacks. In fact they rank just 82nd out of 130 teams in sack percentage only getting a sack 6.92% of plays, which is a huge drop off from previous years 31st (7.90%) in 2018 and 22nd (8.06%) in 2017. This is not a classic TCU defense when looking into the numbers deeper and we have concerns as Texas is one of the best offenses they’ve faced all season ranking 14th in total yards per game. Two out of three TCU losses this year came to similar high powered offenses in SMU (ranked 10th in yards per game), Iowa State (13th). Their other came last week against Kansas State who has an offense ranked in the bottom third, but TCU’s offense was mostly to blame last week. Nonetheless, Sam Ehlinger, the Texas Longhorn’s QB has been solid throwing for at least 200 yards in every game this season. So far TCU is 0-2 against teams that throw for 200 yards or more and overall, this is a spot where we see some mismatches. Although both teams have obvious weaknesses, we will side with the Texas Longhorns to win this game. In the end, TCU’s strengths do not align with Texas and their weaknesses. We see Texas being able to win the small battles and doing enough to get the job done.