TCU is 9-0 while Texas is 6-3. So why are the Longhorns favored by more than a touchdown against the Horned Frogs? Good question.
Left: Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Center: Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images, Right: Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Explained: Why No. 4 TCU Is the Underdog Against No. 18 Texas

Every once in a while, college football presents us with point spreads that can seem "off." In Week 10, Clemson was favored by just 3.5 points over Notre Dame. At the time, Clemson was ranked No. 4 while Notre Dame was unranked. Well, Notre Dame went on to win outright.

However, it's not every day you see teams within the same conference where the lower-ranked team is favored by a touchdown. In fact, the line has since gone to 7.5 points since opening as a touchdown. What game are we referring to? The Texas Longhorns hosting TCU. 

TCU is ranked No. 4, while Texas is ranked No. 18. Texas is 6-3, while TCU is 9-0. So, this begs the question—why are TCU such big underdogs in this one?

Let's make sense of this. 

Texas Is at Home

Texas Longhorns fans in the stands during the second quarter of the college football game between the Texas Longhorns and the West Virginia Mountaineers

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This should be factored in, but it doesn't account for the entire spread. This season, Texas is 4-1 at home, with their only loss coming from Alabama, losing 20-18. The Longhorns' home turf is a difficult place to play. It will arguably be the biggest stage of TCU quarterback Max Duggan's season. 

On the road, Duggan has nine touchdowns and two interceptions. However, these road starts were against SMU, Kansas, and West Virginia. Duggan has two interceptions on the year. At home, Texas allows 246 passing and 105 rushing yards per game. 

The Gary Patterson Factor

Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs leads his team onto the field before the Big 12 college football game against the Iowa State Cyclones

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From 1998 to 2021, Gary Patterson was associated with the TCU program, posting 15 winning seasons before getting fired after a 3-5 start in 2021. Now, Patterson is on the coaching staff for Texas as a special assistant to the head coach. There, he assists on defense in terms of scouting and scheme evaluation. 

While it's a group effort, the Longhorns allowed just 21.8 points per game this season. Patterson knows and understands the TCU program inside and out and recruited most of their current players. 

TCU Close Calls

Kendre Miller #33 of the TCU Horned Frogs reacts following his game winning touchdown run against the Oklahoma State Cowboys

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RELATED: Quentin Johnston's Circus TD Catch Gives TCU the Edge Over the Kansas Jayhawks

TCU is 9-0 this season, but you have to look at some of their previous games for more context. 

They haven't beaten a team by more than 10 points since their 55-24 win over Oklahoma back on October 1. Against Texas Tech last week, they were trailing 17-13 heading into the fourth quarter. The Longhorns are not a team that you can play like that against. TCU allows over 28 points per game. Texas has forced nine fumbles this season and allows just 3.4 yards per attempt. Their stout run defense will play heavily into this one, especially if TCU can't build a lead late into the game. 

Bijan Robinson Factor

Bijan Robinson #5 of the Texas Longhorns reacts after a second quarter touchdown against the Oklahoma State Cowboys

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We can't talk about Texas without talking about the best running back in the country, Bijan Robinson. This season, Robinson has 191 carries for 1,124 yards (5.9 per attempt) and 12 touchdowns. He had 27 runs of 10+ yards, and 784 of his yards come after contact. 

Meanwhile, TCU has allowed over 167 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks. Robinson can run on this team, which helps eat away at the possession clock for TCU, giving Texas the edge. 

Should You Bet Texas Given the Odds?

Quinn Ewers #3 of the Texas Longhorns warms up before the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Austin, Texas.

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Now that this line has gone over a touchdown, that might be too much. However, if you can find Texas -7, we'd recommend taking that bet.

This matchup favors Texas up and down, and depending on Duggan on the road in this hostile environment is too much. If Texas gives Robinson 30+ carries, there's no way TCU beats Texas. Look for the Longhorns to lock down the TCU run game and do their best to contain perennial first-round NFL draft pick wide receiver Quentin Johnston.

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