It is hard to be better offensively than Texas was in its 70-35 win over Texas Tech. The Longhorns rolled up 639 yards of offense and the game was more or less over by halftime when Texas held a 42-14 lead.
Now, the question entering this week at TCU is was that result more about Texas or the Red Raiders? We’ll find out early in the afternoon Saturday with another 11 a.m. kickoff for the Longhorns in Fort Worth. It is a chance for Texas to be 2-0 heading into the Red River Rivalry, and there are questions and keys for the Longhorns as they and here at Horns Illustrated we’ll take a look at them.
1. Can Steve Sarkisian avoid the TCU hex?
The Longhorns are 2-7 in their last nine contests against the Horned Frogs. Tom Herman was 1-3 against Gary Patterson and you can make an argument not beating TCU got him fired. This isn’t one of the better TCU teams of the last 20 years, so Sarkisian really needs to start off his head-to-head against Patterson with a win.
2. Will the offense carry over its performance from last week?
We don’t mean in the sense that it will score 70 points and compile nearly 640 yards — that’s obviously not realistic. But Casey Thompson was excellent, Bijan Robinson was his normal spectacular self and freshman wideout Xavier Worthy had a breakout game. While all three are unlikely to reproduce their numbers from a week ago, they are facing a TCU defense that just got torched for 595 yards in a loss to SMU. Expect a lot of points and yards for the Texas offense.
3. What do we make of the Texas defense?
Texas gave up more than 500 yards against Texas Tech, but most of those yards were in the second half when the game was out of reach. Is the defense improved already in Week 5? We think so. While TCU has weapons on offense — particularly running back Zach Evans — the Longhorns defense should be able to keep the Horned Frogs to less than 28 points. DeMarvion Overshown continued a great season against Tech and that should remain the same vs. the Horned Frogs.
4. Is this the best matchup of running backs in the conference?
There’s a fair amount of good backs in the Big 12, but Robinson vs. Evans will be fun to watch. Expect both to clear the 100-yard mark and be fed the ball plenty by the offensive coordinators.
5. Can Texas slow down TCU QB Max Duggan?
Yes (gulp). Duggan has played some of the best games of his career against Texas the past two years, accounting for a combined five touchdowns and solid performances both passing and running. But Duggan has had poor performances against other defenses in the Big 12, and we think defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski will come up with a game plan that will at least slow him down a bit and make him less productive.
6. What’s the bottom line on this game?
Texas is the better team here. TCU’s defense just got torched by SMU — who, granted, is pretty good — and the Horned Frogs are always up for the game against the Longhorns, but what we’ve seen the last two weeks indicates the Texas offense will have another big day and the defense should make enough plays and stops to give the Longhorns a win.
Horns Illustrated prediction: Texas 37, TCU 27.