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CFB - Texas Bowl - TCU vs. HOUSTON (8:00 PM ET – NFL Network)

CFB - Texas Bowl - TCU vs. HOUSTON (8:00 PM ET – NFL Network)


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CFB - Texas Bowl - TCU vs. HOUSTON (8:00 PM ET – NFL Network)

The Texas Bowl is fittingly named in 2007, matching a pair of teams from the state in which it is being played. Reliant Stadium in will play host to TCU and Houston, meeting for the eighth time in the L15 years.


2007-12-28

The Texas Bowl is fittingly named in 2007, matching a pair of teams from the state in which it is being played. Reliant Stadium in will play host to TCU and Houston, meeting for the eighth time in the L15 years. TCU is playing in this bowl game for the second time, and the Horned Frogs will be looking for their eighth straight win over their in-state rival.

The Cougars are looking to snap that same length of losing streak in bowl games, and are just 2-5 ATS in their L7 postseason contests overall. Like most C-USA teams, the Cougars lean on their offense, with a well balanced 513 YPG (240 RYPG & 273 PYPG). TCU’s strength is its defense, allowing a respectable 4.5 yards per play. HC Gary Patterson’s TCU teams are 18-9 ATS vs. winning teams.

TCU
The TCU Horned Frogs never did become the team that everyone was expecting them to be this season. They lost to all of the Mountain West Conference's other four bowl teams, after being the clear favorites to win the league title. Looking back, it seems laughable that TCU's September visit to Texas was being viewed as a potential BCS-qualifying opportunity for the Frogs. Yet here they are at 7-5, good enough to have warranted essentially an at-large bid to the Texas Bowl and looking to finish strong. Offensive inconsistency has been TCU's biggest problem. The Frogs are 64th in the country in total offense, averaging 388 yards. Injuries at the tailback position contributed to the Frogs' inability to establish the kind of running game that has been their calling card, although Aaron Brown and Joseph Turner had their moments. Redshirt freshman quarterback Andy Dalton also had his ups and downs, while Marcus Jackson provided an occasional spark. Defensively, the Frogs have been as steady as usual. They stand 16th in the country in total defense, allowing 320 yards a game. Their aggressive approach is disruptive to opposing offenses.

HOUSTON
While the Cougars could not repeat as Conference USA champions, they did maintain their high standards of offensive production under coach Art Briles, even with the loss of quarterback Kevin Kolb, a four-year starter who became an NFL second-round draft choice. In Kolb's absence, Houston still ranks fourth in the country in total offense at 513 yards. That's largely a tribute to running back Anthony Aldridge, who assumed more responsibility and has averaged 130 yards, and to quarterback Case Kennum, who stepped in and threw for 273 yards a game. The Cougars lost badly (56-7) at Tulsa in the game that cost them a return visit to the C-USA title contest, but they were otherwise consistent on both sides of the ball. Their defense is respectable, ranking 49th by giving up 365 yards a game, and should not be overwhelmed by TCU's offense. The biggest variable in the Texas Bowl is how the Cougars will respond to their coaching situation. With Briles having departed to Baylor after five seasons in Houston, the school has hired Oklahoma assistant Kevin Sumlin to replace him. However, assistant coach Chris Thurmond will serve as Houston's interim coach in the bowl game.

THE GAME
This is a hometown appearance for Houston, although Reliant Stadium is not the Cougars' home field. TCU also should have a good following, because Houston is about four hours from Fort Worth. While this has been a generally disappointing season for the Frogs, they did play their best football in November. They also have a good recent history in the postseason, having destroyed Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl last December. Houston has had less bowl success lately, but did generate plenty of offense in a Liberty Bowl loss to South Carolina last year. This will be another good test for the Cougars' offense, because TCU's 4-2-5 scheme features blitzers coming from all directions and forces a quarterback to make good decisions. Houston can be comforted by the fact that TCU is not explosive offensively. The Frogs are methodical, the kind of team that scores in the 20s in most of its games. The challenge, then, for the Cougars is to produce the 28 or so points it will take to win this game. TCU's edge in this matchup comes from having something to prove after failing to live up to expectations in the Mountain West, as well as Houston's coaching transition.

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