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No. 5 TCU blows out Texas in Austin to keep its playoff hopes alive

No. 5 TCU continued its playoff push with a dominant 48-10 win over Texas in Austin, a win that snapped the Longhorns’ three-game win streak. Here are three thoughts from the Horned Frogs’ win.

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1. Turnovers defined this game

Texas gave TCU plenty of Thanksgiving treats on Thursday, and the Horned Frogs capitalized. In all, TCU scored 31 points off six Texas turnovers, making things a bit easier on a night when coach Gary Patterson’s team struggled on offense.

In the first half, Texas did more on offense than TCU did. The Longhorns outgained the Horned Frogs 144 yards to 137 yards, but coach Charlie Strong’s program turned the ball over twice to help TCU build a 20-3 lead at the break. In the second half, three of the Horned Frogs’ four touchdowns came off Texas miscues, a run that included a 28-point fourth quarter.

That kind of undisciplined football undermined an otherwise impressive defensive effort from the Longhorns. Meanwhile, TCU took advantage and dominated a conference opponent on the road.

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2. Charlie Strong is doing good work with Texas’ defense

The final score won’t show it, but Texas made TCU’s normally potent offense work for this victory. It should be a testament to Strong’s first year as head coach in Austin.

TCU scored 48 points despite only compiling 378 yards of offense (5.7 per play), a significant drop from its 542 yard-per-game average. But that score was a bigger indictment of Texas’ offensive mistakes than its defensive problems. The Longhorns pressured Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin all night long; at halftime, Boykin had completed 13 passes for only 106 yards. They flummoxed the Heisman candidate into one interception and a number of inaccurate passes on third down, where the Frogs were 5-of-15 on the night.

Perhaps Texas didn’t pass this test against TCU, but the future is bright in Austin. All Longhorns fans need to do is put on tape of Strong’s old Louisville defenses to see what’s to come.

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3. Is TCU playoff-bound?

The Horned Frogs’ date with Texas on Thanksgiving was likely their last chance to truly impress the selection committee. Next week, when other Power Five leagues will host conference championship games, TCU will play a last-place Iowa State team that’s 0-7 in Big 12 play. The 10-team Big 12 doesn’t have a title game.

The Horned Frogs now have to wait and see how Baylor finishes its season. The Bears handed the Frogs their only loss of the year — a 61-58 defeat on Oct. 11 — but if both teams win out, one-loss Baylor and TCU would share the Big 12 title. At that point, the selection committee would have an interesting conundrum on its hands. Which Big 12 champ (if any) deserves a playoff nod? Is TCU’s nonconference win over Minnesota more important that Baylor’s head-to-head victory?

There’s no right answer at this point, but for now, the Horned Frogs did what they needed to do to add to their playoff case against Texas on the road.