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Game Preview: Texas Longhorns vs. #21 USC Trojans

Texas looks to come out on top after suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Trojans last year. Can they come out on top?



Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

Two of college football’s most storied programs will meet on Saturday night in Austin when The Texas Longhorns (1-1) host the USC Trojans (1-1). USC holds a 5-1 all-time record over the Longhorns, with Texas’ lone win taking place at the Rose Bowl in 2006, earning the program its fourth national championship. The two teams met last in 2017 in Los Angeles, with #4 USC narrowly defeating Texas 27-24 in double overtime.  Texas defeated Tulsa at home last week 28-21, while USC lost to Stanford 17-3 in Palo Alto.

What:  Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) vs. USC Trojans (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12)
When:  Saturday, September 15, 2018
Time:  7:00 PM CST
Venue:  Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, TX
Television: FOX

The Coaches


Head Coach:  Clay Helton
Head Coaching Experience: 5th year as a head coach (held interim head coaching role at USC in 2013 & 2015)
Years as Head Coach at USC:  5
Career Record:  28-11
Career Record at USC:  28-11


Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 4th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  2
Career Record:  30-11
Career Record at Texas:  8-7

Turning Point for Texas?

Texas and Tom Herman found themselves in a similar position last year as they headed into Game 3 of the season.  The Longhorns were unable to turn the corner after USC’s victory and teetered around .500 play ever since.  This year Texas has an opportunity to bring a winning record into a rough stretch of conference play, something the Longhorns desperately need.  A win over the Top-25 ranked Trojans would do wonders for Tom Herman and the team’s psyche.  Another loss and another losing record after three games will only bring out more of Tom Herman’s critics, who will again question his efficacy and the direction of the program.  Herman has acknowledged the fans’ disappointment about a mediocre 2017 season and another season-opening loss against Maryland two weeks ago, but those expectations aren’t any higher than his for his team and players:

“The expectations that are put on us from the outside are never going to meet or exceed the expectations that we put on ourselves. And so yeah, I love our fans, absolutely love them and I hope they continue to stay as passionate about Texas football as they have been.”

Herman says fans can expect to see a team that’s continually improving and excited to play USC in front of a home crowd.

Can Ehlinger and the Offense get Cranking?

A big piece of the puzzle for Texas is the play of sophmore quarterback Sam Ehlinger.  Ehlinger, who has thrown for 500 yards this season, threw two key interceptions in the fourth quarter against the Terrapins and fumbled once in the win against Tulsa. He has improved from game one to game two, and he must play even better against a USC defense that limited a potent Stanford offense to just 17 points last week.   Ehlinger threw for 298 yards against the Trojans last year but also had 2 interceptions.

USC ranks 113 out of 129 teams in rushing defense and gives up 233.5 yards per game on the ground.  With Keaontay Ingram likely out for this game, Tre Watson and Daniel Young will carry the load in the Texas rushing attack, which averages 191.5 per game.  Texas hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher this season, but be on the watch for Tre Watson to potentially have a big game on Saturday night.

Texas Injuries

Zach Shacklelford – Center

The Longhorns will be without several key players in Saturday’s matchup against the Trojans, including starting center Zach Shackelford.  Shackelford, who missed the Tulsa game with a foot injury, is wearing a boot and will remain sidelined against USC.  The junior from Belton, Texas has played in 20 games and started in 18 of them in his 3rd year at Texas.  Senior Elijah Rodriguez started in place of the injured Shackelford at center in the Tulsa game, and will assume the same duties against the Trojans.

Keaontay Ingram – Running Back

Tom Herman lists running back Keaontay Ingram is listed as “highly doubtful” for participating in the contest against the Trojans. Ingram injured his knee in the win against the Golden Hurricane and was diagnosed with a deep bone bruise and a sprained MCL earlier in the week. Ingram, a true freshman, is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and has totaled 64 yards on the ground through two games.  Graduate transfer Tre Watson and Daniel Young are listed as co-starters on the depth chart, but expect to see Watson handle most of the carries.

John Burt -Wide Receiver

Burt continues to nurse a foot injury sustained in preseason camp.  The senior missed the Maryland and Tulsa games and is unavailable for USC.

DeMarvion Overshown – Linebacker

Overshown, a true freshman from Arp, continues to nurse an injured knee and will not play against USC. Overshown is expected to return in a couple of weeks, according to head coach Tom Herman.

Returns to the Field

While injuries will force several players out of Saturday’s game, the Longhorns will see several starters back in the lineup against the Trojans.  Safety Brandon Jones will make his return at safety after missing the Tulsa game with a high ankle sprain. Defensive backs Davante Davis and Kris Boyd were tabbed as ready to play against USC.  Davis left the Maryland game in the first half with a neck injury and subsequently missed the Tulsa game. Kris Boyd hasn’t missed any games this season but woke up with soreness in his neck after the Tulsa game.  Freshman linebacker Ayodele Adeoye‘s knee has healed from his preseason injury and will be available to play against the Trojans.

What’s at Stake?

Texas notched win #800 in 2006 when they defeated USC and claimed the 2005 BCS Championship.  The Longhorns enter Saturday’s contest with 899 wins and an opportunity to climb to 900 with a victory over the Trojans.  While all-time wins are important historically, Tom Herman and Texas are focused on being “1-0” each week.  This game is pivotal because of the momentum it possibly brings with a Texas win — something the Longhorns sorely need.


Aaron Carrara is the founder and publisher of HornSports and has covered University of Texas athletics since 2011. Aaron is a member of the Football Writer's Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and is a proud father to three boys.

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Texas drops #17 TCU 31-16

Tom Herman got his first signature win over Gary Patterson and TCU on Saturday



Photo: Bethany Hocker, USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns entered Saturday’s game looking to put an end to a nasty trend of losing to TCU — a team they have historically had their way with.  Recent history has proven this task difficult, with TCU winning five of six since joining the Big 12, including four straight against the Longhorns. As a Big 12 member, TCU has a perfect 3-0 record in Austin. On Saturday afternoon, the Longhorns emphatically ended the losing streak to Gary Patterson and TCU in front of 95,124 fans, proving they are a legitimate contender for the Big 12 Championship this season.

TCU began on offense after Texas won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Horned Frogs worked quickly behind quarterback Shawn Robinson, marching 46 yards on 8 plays. The drive was capped with a 46-yard field goal by Jonathan Song which gave TCU an early 3-0 lead over Texas.

Texas failed to answer Songs’s field goal on their first offensive possession, with freshman kicker Cameron Dicker missing his first field goal of the season on a 42-yard attempt.

The Longhorns would make up for it on their next possession, with quarterback Sam Ehlinger engineering a 65-yard scoring drive which was capped off by a five yard touchdown run by Tre Watson. Texas led TCU 7-3 at the 4:09 mark of the quarter, their first lead over the Horned Frogs in four years.

After two rushing plays on the next possession, Robinson would complete a 50-yard pass to Jalen Reagor, setting TCU up for a first and goal at the Texas 4 yard line.  The Texas defense held steady, forcing the Frogs to settle for a 23-yard field goal, Jonathan Song’s second of the day.

The Longhorns maintained a 7-6 lead after one quarter was in the books.

Cameron Dicker’s 34-yard field goal represented the first points of the second quarter, extending Texas’ lead to 10-6 over TCU.

TCU would take a 13-10 lead into the locker room at the half, on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Jalen Reagor.

Texas started the third quarter on offense but quickly went three-and-out.  On the next possession Robinson was intercepted by Brandon Jones, but the Longhorns would fail to capitalize.

Song extended the TCU lead to 16-10 at the 8:44 mark, making good on his 3rd field goal of the night, this time from 29 yards out.

Texas regained its lead with less than a minute left in the quarter after Sam Ehlinger found a stretched-out Collin Johnson in the end zone for the score. Texas led TCU 17-16.

On TCU’s next possession, Caden Sterns intercepted Shawn Robinson for the second time on the evening and returned it for a touchdown. After review by the officials, Sterns stepped out of bounds at the TCU 2 yard line.  Sam Ehlinger finished the short drive by taking the first down snap and running it in untouched for a touchdown.

Headed to the fourth quarter, Texas held a 24-16 lead over the Horned Frogs.

The fourth quarter belonged all to the Longhorns, who scored a lone touchdown courtesy of Sam Ehlinger to Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and played solid defense en route to a 31-16 win.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the win and rushed for one touchdown. Collin Johnson led the Longhorns with 124 yards receiving and one touchdown. The Texas offense totaled 367 yards of total offense compared to TCU’s 372.

Cade Sterns and Brandon Jones each had interceptions against TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson, who threw for 197 yards in the loss.

The Longhorns improve to 3-1 overall and are riding a three-game win streak, something they haven’t accomplished since the 2014 season.  Additionally, Texas defeated it’s second consecutive ranked opponent in two weeks.

While the win over TCU was important, Tom Herman knows he has a lot of work ahead if his team wishes to leave the Manhattan with a win next Saturday:

“We’re going to celebrate it, enjoy it, and we’re going to wake up tomorrow knowing we got to go on the road for the first time in a month against a Kansas State team that’s always, always tough to handle and especially when they’re playing at home. That is a tough, tough place to play. ”

Texas will travel to Manhattan, Kansas to take on the Kansas State Wildcats next Saturday at 2:30 PM.


  • True freshman running back Keaontay Ingram returned to the field against TCU after missing the USC game with a knee injury. Ingram left the game in the first half after suffering a hip pointer. In his postgame presser, Herman said he doesn’t expect Ingram’s injury to be anything long-term.
  • Defensive back Jarmarquis Durst sustained a severe shoulder sprain.
  • Offensive lineman Calvin Anderson played through some knee issues in the game and will be evaluated on Sunday.


  • Texas improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12 Conference with the win
  • The Longhorns are now 3-1 for the first time since 2012
  • Saturday’s win marks the first time UT has beaten Top 25 teams in consecutive weeks since 2008
  • The Texas defense forced four turnovers in the win
  • Collin Johnson’s 100-yard receiving performance marked the second straight season, and seventh time in school history, that a Longhorn receiver has eclipsed the century mark against TCU.
  • Sam Ehlinger has 2,893 career passing yards, surpassing his high school coach Todd Dodge’s career passing mark for 15th all-time in school history.  Ehlinger also becomes the first Longhorn QB since Colt McCoy in 2008 with at least one passing and one rushing TD in three consecutive games.

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Seahorn’s Five Thoughts: TCU

Texas finally ends the Horned Frogs curse



Photo via: Bethany Hocker, USA TODAY Sports

That’s two weeks in a row this team has proved me wrong. Maybe I should just keep  picking against them each week. This was a better opponent this week and a much more meaningful game in the grand scheme of things, and this team answered the bell in a big way.

Getting the Purple Monkey (Frog) Off Their Back

TCU has had Texas’ number for several years now and it’s been no secret, especially given how Gary Patterson and his staff have been beating that drum in the ears of recruits. Over the recent years, Texas has been out coached, out schemed, out hustled, and just about anything else you can think of in its matchups with TCU. It seemed like anything that could go wrong would, and things would get ugly quick. That changed today in Austin.

Big hat tip to Todd Orlando and his defense as they found a way to limit the explosive TCU offense to less than 20 points and force Shawn Robinson to turn the ball over several times, including one that led to an offensive touchdown. Orlando’s bunch kept the game tight even with the offense struggling at times, but they got the ball back in their hands and gave them extra opportunities. That leads me to my next point.

Winning the Turnover Battle

Texas didn’t just win the turnover battle today — they dominated it. The Texas safety tandem of Brandon Jones and Caden Sterns combined for all four defensive turnovers today and Sterns almost scored his first collegiate touchdown, but stepped out before he could. We knew going in that Robinson was prone to turning the ball over and he did it three times, with each being very key to swinging the momentum and contributing to what ended up being the final score. Speaking of Sterns, if people didn’t know who he was before today, they probably do now. That kid is a future All-American and a three year player. Enjoy him in Austin while you can.

On the other side of the ball, Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense took care of the ball and didn’t turn it over to a defense that knows how to force errors. While the offense may have had struggles today, they did not give TCU extra opportunities via the turnover.

Playmakers at WR Come Up Big

It’s impossible to tell the story of this win today without mentioning Collin Johnson and LIl’Jordan Humphrey. The dynamic duo combined for 11 catches for 204 yards and two HUGE touchdowns that gave Texas the lead, and put away the Frogs down the home stretch. Plain and simple, these two came up huge despite having all kinds of coverages rolled their way, and when Ehlinger needed a big play, he went their way. Humphrey and Johnson continue to impress early on and are looking like one of the top receiver duos in the Big 12.

Learning to Finish

Remember how I said previously that this team needs to learn how to finish off quality opponents? Don’t look now, but in back-to-back weeks this Texas team has not only beat a ranked opponent, but has delivered knockout blows and made the teams wave the white flag. Gary Patterson opted to punt with time left on the clock and his team down on the scoreboard. He (and his team) tapped out. They said NO MÁS. With the way TCU has been treating Texas lately, I didn’t think I’d see that with my own eyes any time soon. This team is getting better each week and they have a chance to get another monkey off their back next week in Manhattan. Just a different shade of purple.

Building Momentum

Winning last week against USC was huge for recruiting and confidence. This week’s win over TCU is the USC win multipled ten times. This was a win over a conference and in-state rival who has built their brand off of dominating Texas over the past few years, and now you take the shine off that pitch and have a chance to change the momentum. If recruits and opponents weren’t paying attention after last week — they certainly are now. Texas isn’t back, but they are certainly getting better. They should be favored over a struggling Kansas State team next week, but it’s the venue that should frighten everyone. They have a chance to win in Manhattan and put together a 3-game winning streak heading into Dallas. That would make an already big game even bigger.

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Game Preview: Texas Longhorns vs. TCU Horned Frogs

Can the Longhorns get past the pesty Horned Frogs?



Photo via: Brendan Maloney, USA TODAY Sports Images

Since joining the Big 12, the TCU Horned Frogs hold a 5-1 record against the Texas Longhorns, including four straight wins.  On Saturday Big 12 play begins for both schools, and the Longhorns look to beat head coach Gary Patterson’s team for the first time in Austin since 2007.   The Longhorns are riding the momentum of a resounding win against USC last week, while TCU lost to 4th-ranked Ohio State 40-28.  Texas hasn’t lost five in a row to TCU since the 1930’s and they will have a challenge at hand with the nation’s 40th ranked offense.

What:  Texas Longhorns (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (2-1, 0-0 Big-12)
When:  Saturday, September 21, 2018
Time:  3:30 PM CST
Venue:  Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, TX
Television: FOX

The Coaches

TCU Horned Frogs

Head Coach:  Gary Patterson
Head Coaching Experience: 18th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at TCU:  18
Career Record:  162-58
Career Record at USC:  162-58


Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 4th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  2
Career Record:  31-11
Career Record at Texas:  9-7

Can Texas Break the Curse of the Frogs?

While Texas owns the all-time series record (62-25) against TCU, Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs have dominated the Longhorns since joining the Big 12.  Last year Patterson beat Herman in Fort Worth to the tune of 24-7.  And in the last four losses to the Horned Frogs, the Longhorns have been held to 10 points or less. Attribute those numbers to Gary Patterson’s sound defensive philosophy, which is no different this year. Texas will have to score points and play sound defense if they are going to break the recent purple curse.

Can Ehlinger and the Offense get Cranking?

Sam Ehlinger has made strides from game-to-game this season, and Texas needs the sophmore to continue his winning ways.  He has thrown for 723 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions this season, and rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns.  Ehlinger’s ability to run is something the Longhorns need to take advantage of in order to throw off a tenacious TCU defense that allows only 317 yards of offense per game.  Texas head coach Tom Herman is aware of the challenge Gary Patterson’s defense poses to his team on Saturday.

“So we’ve got our work cut out for us on both sides of the football. TCU has speed everywhere. Their skilled guys on offense are fast in terms of wide receivers and running backs, a running back with a 94-yard it was against Ohio State, who has a lot of speed on defense themselves. And obviously on defense, even their front and fast and athletic. They played well. They came up a bit short, but it’s as fast of a defense as I’ve seen in a long time.”

The Texas rushing offense managed just 9 yards on the ground in last year’s loss to the Horned Frogs, something that must change on Saturday to give the Longhorns a chance.  The Longhorns have several weapons at receiver that have the potential to impact the outcome of this game. Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson are two of Texas’ top play-makers and will be integrated into the offensive strategy in heavy doses.  Johnson, a 6’6, 220 pound junior, has 13 receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown this season. Humphrey, also a junior, leads the team with 17 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 47-yard touchdown pass in last week’s win against USC.

Texas Injuries

Brennan Eagles – WR

Tom Herman listed the freshman Eagles as doubtful for Saturday’s game against TCU with an injury to his hamstring.  Eagles has played in all three games for the Longhorns this season and has one reception for 35 yards on the season.

Keaontay Ingram – RB

Ingram missed the USC game while still nursing a knee injury sustained in the Tulsa game.  The true freshman was upgraded from questionable to “available” to play during the TCU game.  Ingram is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and has 101 yards on 16 carries this season.

Zach Shackleford – C 

Shackelford missed the Tulsa game due to injury and was still experiencing pain in his foot.  He is doubtful for Saturday’s contest against TCU.

DeMarvion Overshown – LB

Overshown’s knee is still nagging him and will miss the TCU game and possibly the Kansas State game.

Malcolm Roach – LB

Roach had surgery on a fractured foot on Wednesday and will be out six to eight weeks.

What’s at Stake?

The Longhorns are 14-8 (.636) all-time in their first home Big 12 game. Texas hasn’t won three consecutive games since 2014 and with a win today, would carry a 3-1 record into Manhattan, Kansas next week against another team that historically has given them fits.  Texas beat USC last week, but fans are still uncertain as to whether that indicates that Texas is on the rise, or if the Trojans are simply overrated this season.  Saturday’s game against TCU will provide an honest assessment of this team’s capacity on both sides of the ball.

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Staff Predictions: TCU vs. Texas

Can the Tom Herman break the TCU curse on Saturday and secure a key victory?



Photo via: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

The Longhorns look to keep the momentum going as Gary Patterson and TCU come to town. Can Tom Herman break the curse and get a win against Patterson? Our staff weighs in.

Daniel Seahorn (1-2)

This team proved me wrong last week by picking up the win over USC, but this week’s game against TCU brings a much stiffer test. It’s no secret that Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs have had Texas’ number for several years running and that alone makes it tough for me to pick Texas. I know I said it last week, but Texas will have to find a way to beat TCU this week before I can confidently pick them in this matchup going forward.

Prediction: TCU: 35, Texas 21

Jameson McCausland (2-1)

Until I see it actually happen, I can’t pick Texas to beat TCU. Gary Patterson has a strong dislike for Texas, and his players have physically whipped the Longhorns the past 4 years. The last time Texas scored more than 10 points against the Horned Frogs was in 2013 with Case McCoy at the helm.

Texas has made strides, but TCU’s offense is built to exploit some of the issues the Longhorns defense has shown early in the season. It’s hard to see the Texas offense being able to match TCU score-for-score.

Prediction: TCU 27, Texas 17

Aaron Carrara (2-1)

Texas showed out last week in their dismantling of USC, and all eyes are on the Longhorns this week in their matchup against TCU. TCU has an explosive offense, a nasty defense and team speed on both sides of the ball.  The Longhorns have a quarterback that has shown improvement from game to game, a running back corps that is improving and a defense that held USC to -5 rushing yards last week.

The Texas defense must be able to contain TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson and his array of offensive weapons, because while Texas has the capacity to put up points, it can’t match TCU in scoring. TCU is 5-1 vs. Texas since joining the Big 12 and Gary Patterson will employ a barrage of blitzes in his 4-2-5 defense on Saturday night to try and notch Big 12 win #6 against the Longhorns.  In the end I don’t think Texas can keep up with TCU and loses a close one to drop back to .500.

Prediction:  TCU 42, Texas 38

Harrison Wier (1-2)

Texas’ win against USC was impressive last weekend, but I believe it spoke more about the Trojans than it did the Longhorns. The real test comes tomorrow at 3:30. Texas has the home field advantage with an anticipated crowd. TCU comes to town with a typically loaded Gary Patterson team.

Although Texas has improved, I don’t see them pulling this one out. TCU has a stellar defense that presents the ability to give Texas QB Sam Ehlinger fits. If Texas stands a chance, they’ll have to effectively run the ball — which I don’t see happening. Mix that in with Shawn Robinson’s ability to exploit the Texas defense and this game just seems too far out of reach. Texas is improving, but not enough to get over the hump that’s TCU.

Prediction: TCU 38, Texas 21

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Franchise Quest