Compiled by Steve Habel, Senior Contributing Writer
AUSTIN, Texas – The 15th-ranked Texas Longhorns travel north to Fort Worth to face dangerous TCU for another in a stretch of difficult and key Big 12 Conference games. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. CDT at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
We’re expecting a low scoring game, with Texas (5-2, 3-1 in Big 12 play) content with working the clock to keep its MASH-unit of a defense off the field, and the Horned Frogs (3-3, 1-2 in Big 12 play) struggling to find any real offensive consistency, despite having two of the league’s most explosive threats in running back Darius Anderson and wide receiver Jalen Reagor.
Here are some notes and quotes in advance of Saturday’s dustup:
• Texas is 63-25-1 all-time against the Horned Frogs and 1-1 under coach Tom Herman. The Longhorns defeated TCU, 31-16, last season in Austin to snap a four-game skid against the Horned Frogs.
• Herman confirmed after Thursday’s practice a report by Horns247 that sophomore WR Brennan Eagles was absent from Tuesday’s practice for personal reasons. Herman said Eagles returned to workouts on Wednesday.
“(He’s been in) every team activity as well as today,” Herman said Thursday about Eagles. “He had a great practice today. Yeah, it was great.”
No other reason has been offered for why Eagles missed practice.
• Texas leads the all-time series with TCU, 27-11, in games played through the years in Cowtown, most of which came when the two teams were rivals in the defunct former Southwest Conference. The Longhorns are 14-3 against TCU in Fort Worth since 1968.
• The first matchup between the schools was contested in 1897, when the Longhorns defeated TCU, 18-10. Texas and TCU met almost annually following their first encounter up until the Longhorns joined the Big 12 Conference prior to the 1996 season. Texas owns the largest victory for either school in the all-time series, having posted a 72-0 win at home in 1915.
• The Longhorns won 24 straight times over TCU from 1968-91, which is the longest winning streak by either school in the series.
• Texas has fielded one of the nation’s most productive offenses this season, ranking in the Top 20 nationally in third-down conversions (second), first downs (second), scoring offense (ninth), total offense (16th), red-zone offense (16th), passes had intercepted (17th) and passing offense (17th).
• The Longhorns have converted 55.8 percent of their third downs this season and are the only Big 12 program converting at better than 50 percent.
• Texas has scored at least 36 points in six of seven games this season, including a quartet of 40-point performances. If the season ended today, UT’s 40.9 points-per-game scoring average would rank as the sixth-best in school history and Texas’ best offensive output since 2008 (42.4 ppg). Texas is one of only six schools to score at least 36 points in six-or-more games this season. Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and SMU are the other five.
• TCU coach Gary Patterson said this week that he’s not looking to get into a shootout with the Longhorns.
“I don’t know if we’ll win a shootout,” Patterson said. “Now I’d like to win a shootout, but for us at home I think you have to be in the game going into the third, fourth quarter and finding a way to win.”
• QB Sam Ehlinger is one of only nine FBS quarterbacks to throw for at least 200 yards in seven games this season. He is one of only three in that group to also have at least two games with more than 390 yards passing. Washington State’s Anthony Gordon and LSU’s Joe Burrow are the other two.
• On Friday morning Ehlinger was interviewed on The Jim Rome Show and was asked about playing at Texas and its deep history of tradition and legendary quarterbacks.
“This is what I dreamed of doing, being part of such a rich tradition at the University of Texas and watching all the greats play here,” Ehlinger said. “So it’s unreal for me to be able to be in their position, be a part of and represent an institution that means so much to me and my family. It’s just a blessing – it’s unreal.”
• Patterson on the Longhorns:
“You’re looking at a team that’s got two losses. They lost to two teams in the top six of the country, so they’re playing really well on offense. Defensively, they’ve been banged up.”
• Reagor is considered one of the most dangerous playmakers in the Big 12 and is coming off his best game – eight catches for 85 yards in a 24-17 TCU loss at K-State. He also had two touchdown catches the previous week at Iowa State. Texas understands that Reagor has to be held in check.
“He’s always going to be a threat on the perimeter,” Herman said.
• TCU’s defense has not forced a takeaway in its past three games and is on pace for just 10, which would be the fewest of the Patterson era in Fort Worth. The fewest takeaways in the Patterson era were 16 in 2016, one of just three losing seasons during the coach’s 19-year tenure.
“We need to get back in the takeaway category and get ready to go,” Patterson said. “When you want to beat a team like Texas, you have to be able to get takeaways and get lost-yardage plays.”
• Texas has been especially productive offensively toward the end of halves this season. In the second and fourth quarters, UT has produced 185 of its 286 points (65%). The Longhorns have scored 99 points in the fourth quarter this season (14.1 avg). The fourth quarter has been Texas’ most productive quarter offensively this season.