The 2020 Texas Bowl matches up the 3-7 Arkansas Razorbacks against the 6-4 TCU Horned Frogs. Both teams are capable of lighting up the scoreboard. The Razorbacks and Horned Frogs have played each other 70 times. Arkansas leads the series history 44-24-2. But TCU won in 2017 when the programs last faced off. For Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman, this marks his first bowl game as a college head coach. Arkansas received an at-large bid despite a losing record. TCU coach Gary Patterson enters his 18th bowl game as the head man of the Horned Frogs.
The Horned Frogs enter the game as four-and-a-half point favorites. Their better record is an indication as to why they are the favorites here. But Arkansas cannot be underestimated. Pittman has the Hogs in a forward direction with his new staff even though the win-loss record would say otherwise. The 2020 Texas Bowl is sure to be a good one as two historic teams face off for the 71st time ever.
2020 Texas Bowl Preview
Arkansas quarterback Feliepe Franks will earn the start on Thursday. Franks gives the team the best chance to win a meaningful game to end the year. In 2020, the senior leader has thrown for 2,107 yards on 163 of 238 passing for 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Hogs come in searching for their fourth win of the season, while TCU can improve to 7-4 with a victory.
For TCU, quarterback Max Duggan gives Patterson and the Horned Frogs an acceleration boost under center. In passing, he has thrown for 10 touchdowns and four interceptions with 1,795 passing yards. But with his legs, Duggan leads the team in rushing. On the year, he has carried the ball 116 times for 526 yards and 10 touchdowns. The sophomore gunslinger is a do it all quarterback that TCU hasn’t seen in a few years.
Houston will be rocking for this game on New Year’s Eve. This match-up provides fans of both programs with a hopeful entertaining game. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm central time on ESPN.
How Arkansas Wins
The Razorbacks average just 25.7 points per game. However, if Franks can get the ball out to his best receivers, this offense thrives. Treylon Burks and Trey Knox are two talented wideouts that can extend plays after the catch. For the team to have success, the Hogs’ passing attack is key. Plus, if Trelon Smith can get established early in the backfield, the Hogs can run a balanced attack. Don’t count out Franks using his legs to scramble out of the pocket, either.
On defense, Arkansas allows 34.9 points per game. Obviously, that statistic has to drop in this game. TCU can put up 30+ points but the Hogs defense has to make them work for those points. Grant Morgan and the defense have a tough task ahead. Containing Duggan in the pocket and outside will be key. Hold him under 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards and the defense can help win the game.
How TCU Wins
Just like Arkansas, the Horned Frogs have a key player under center. Duggan, as mentioned above, is lethal in both aspects. The sophomore signal-caller has to take control of the game and lead TCU down the field. This is a team that averages 411 yards of offense per game. The majority of those yards come via Duggan in some form. He averages 223.4 yards passing per game.
But, someone other than the quarterback has to get clicking in the backfield. Outside of Duggan, Darwin Barlow is second in rushing. The freshman has 428 yards on 73 carries with four touchdowns. If the Razorbacks stop Duggan on the ground, TCU has to turn to Barlow. He could disguise as a blocker in the passing attack and get open in the flat to extend drives. Or, the freshman tailback can gain crucial yards on the ground.
Defensively, the Horned Frogs must stop Franks from throwing the deep ball. Burks and Knox are elite in the deep routes. TCU has to contain both receivers from getting separation at the line of scrimmage. To counter that, the defensive line has to put pressure on Franks in the pocket.
Texas Bowl Prediction
TCU is the odds on favorite to win the 2020 Texas Bowl. However, Arkansas has the ability to light up the scoreboard if they get going on offense. While Franks is dangerous in both aspects, the Horned Frogs defense allows an average of 24.2 points and 350 yards per game.
This year’s Texas Bowl could be an absolute shootout leading into the fourth quarter. The rivalry between the two programs has a lengthy history of being high scoring games. TCU has the advantage defensively, which could be the key factor in ending the season with a win. While Arkansas will keep it close, the Horned Frogs will score late in the final quarter. TCU 38, Arkansas 31.
Photo courtesy of the Texas Bowl.