Out with the old and in with the new as Texas continues its Thanksgiving night tradition, but this year's opponent is Gary Patterson's young but dangerous TCU team.
Texas enters tonight riding a four-game winning streak and appears to have found itself over its past two outings - a 31-22 win at Texas Tech and a 33-7 victory over Iowa State. After allowing 1,065 rushing yards on 177 carries (6.02 ypc) over its first four Big 12 games, the Texas defense has surrendered just 201 rushing yards on its last 88 attempts (2.3 ypc) dating back to the second quarter of the Kansas game. Texas will need those numbers to continue tonight against a TCU offense that runs for a Big 12-worst 3.86 yards per carry.
The Texas offense has been hitting on all cylinders of late, keyed by the emergence of Mike Davis as a deep threat. Davis caught seven passes for 113 yards and a 61-yard touchdown versus Iowa State, nabbed four passes for 165 yards and two scores, including a 75-yarder against Texas Tech, and caught a key 39-yard pass in the game-winning drive versus Kansas.
The deep post has been the weapon of choice between Davis and quarterback David Ash. Davis averages 18.6 yards per catch for the year, ahead of the likes of Baylor's Terrance Williams, USC's Marqise Lee and West Virginia's Tavon Austin. Davis' emergence has given the rest of the offense room to breathe, as Texas gained 609 yards against Iowa State and, outside of end of half time killers, only had one drive march less than 47 yards.
TCU is still looking for a signature win in Year 1 of the Big 12, but beating the in-state behemoth in their house on national TV would definitely be something for Gary Patterson to hang his hat on to recruits across the state of Texas.
The two players that make up the face of Patterson's young Horned Frogs team are redshirt freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin and true freshman defensive end Devonte Fields. Boykin has thrown for 1,540 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions while adding 267 rushing yards and two scores in six starts after stepping in for opening day starter Casey Pachall. Fields has drawn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year consideration as his 10 sacks share the league lead with Texas senior Alex Okafor, and his 20 TFL lead the Big 12 and place him among college football's top dozen playmakers behind the line of scrimmage.
Davis will need a big game tonight to open things underneath for Texas to run against the Big 12's best rush defense (98.4 ypg, 3.12 ypc). Meanwhile, Fields will face an offensive line averse to allowing plays behind the line of scrimmage. Texas has allowed the fifth-fewest sacks and the second-fewest TFL in college football.
Whichever player can turn his opponent's strength into a weakness will lead his team to victory.