Texas vs. TCU score takeaway: No. 4 Horned Frogs smother No. 18 Longhorns, clinch berth in Big 12 title game

Texas vs. TCU score takeaway: No. 4 Horned Frogs smother No. 18 Longhorns, clinch berth in Big 12 title game

The No. 4 TCU used a strong defensive performance to outrun No. 18 Texas 17-10 to reach 10 wins for the first time since 2017 and earn a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 3. The game between the two offensive powerhouses surprisingly turned into a defensive battle, but in the end, TCU remains at the heart of the college football playoff conversation.

Texas posted 11 tackles for loss in the first half to keep TCU behind in the chains, but running back Kendre Miller took over the game in the second half while eclipsing his more swaggering contemporary, Bijan Robinson. Miller broke up a 75-yard touchdown run for the game’s first touchdown and cleared for 130 rushing yards. Robinson was limited to just 29 yards, going on a seven-game 100-yard performance streak.

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers completed just 17 of 39 passes for 171 yards and one interception in another poor effort after his breakout performance against Oklahoma in October. The Longhorns, surprisingly, haven’t scored a second-half offensive touchdown since winning over Iowa State on Oct. 15. Texas tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders caught seven passes for 61 yards and Jordan Whittington threw for 78 yards, but neither entered the end zone.

TCU goes 10-0 and earned the chance to play for a conference title in coach Sonny Dykes’ first season. The Horned Frogs still have regular season games against Baylor and Iowa State before making their first appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game since 2017.

Frogs strengthen their defense

TCU was criticized for winning shootouts, but the defense took center stage against the Longhorns. The Horned Frogs beat Ewers and held Robinson to 29 yards after the All-American running back rushed for 614 yards in his previous four games.

Horned Frogs linebacker Johnny Hodges flew the field with 11 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. Four other defenders posted a tackle for loss and defensive end Dylan Horton walked away with a sack. It was a total team effort as the Frogs once again put on a solid run in the second half to stifle their opponent.

Passing game issues for Horns

While TCU did a good job of making Ewers uncomfortable, Texas’ passing game also fell apart on its own. Ewers has missed his first seven passes and blown on six of his last seven attempts. When Ewers was on target, Texas had several falls or unchallenged passes. Xavier Worthy was specifically targeted 12 times and only had four catches.

The Longhorns’ receiving game was highly publicized early in the season with Ewers behind center, but the receivers underperformed. With just two regular season games remaining, no receiver has cleared for 600 yards. Sanders proved to be a major weapon, but no other receiver was able to consistently create lags.

The case of the TCU playoffs

TCU consistently overpowered teams with their offense, but the Horned Frogs flipped the script with a rush-and-defense-focused offense. Hopefully, TCU hopes the College Football Playoff Selection Committee notices his ability to win in a variety of ways. For example: Although star receiver Quentin Johnston had a touchdown and 66 receiving yards, he wasn’t the focus of the night.

Winning so dominantly against one of college football’s most explosive offenses should give TCU some much-needed street cred as the committee enters its final deliberations. With the win, TCU now has strong wins over No. 18 Texas, No. 19 Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and a number of other potential bowl teams. Each involved overcoming a different type of adversity – yet the frogs are still undefeated.

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