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Texas Bowl: TCU vs. Arkansas odds, preview, and pick

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December 28th, 2020

A battle of two Power 5 conference teams will finish off 2020 as TCU and Arkansas face off in the Texas Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 31.

TCU went 6-4 in 2020, and recorded notable wins over Texas and Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs finished the season winning five of their final six games. Meanwhile, Arkansas went 3-7 in the tough SEC, and lost four consecutive games to finish the season.

Here are the betting odds and preview you need for the 2020 Texas Bowl.

TCU vs. Arkansas

Fri, January 1 2021, 1:00 AM

TCU Horned Frogs

Moneyline

-230

Spread

-4.5

Total

O 57.5

Arkansas Razorbacks

Moneyline

+180

Spread

+4.5

Total

U 57.5

Tale of two seasons

It truly was a tale of two seasons for TCU in 2020. In the first half of the season, the Horned Frogs averaged 25.6 points per game and allowed 29.0 points as they stumbled to a 2-3 start. However, in the second half of the season, the Horned Frogs averaged 36.0 points per game and allowed 19.4 points to finish 4-1.

Quarterback Max Duggan’s running skills were on full display in the second half of the season, and helped turn TCU's offense into a powerhouse. Duggan averaged 70.2 rushing yards per game over the final five games of the season.

The TCU defense was excellent in getting off the field on third downs. It only allowed opponents to convert 32.9% on third down this season, which ranked 15th in the country. However, the Horned Frogs had their fair share of penalty problems, as they averaged 7.7 penalties per game.

The SEC will wear you down

Everyone always talks about how physical SEC football is, and that's especially evident when middle of the road teams like Arkansas are forced to play an all-SEC schedule, as they did in 2020. Arkansas looked impressive early in the season, with wins over Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Tennessee, as well as close losses to Auburn and Texas A&M.

However, they clearly wore down as they finished the season with four consecutive losses and were outscored by 192-110. Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks was a major factor in their hot start. Franks threw for 2,107 yards and 17 touchdowns with only four interceptions. However, injuries late in the season derailed the team’s performance and Franks is questionable for the Texas Bowl.

The Razorbacks were dreadful in third down situations this season, converting only 33.8% of the time, which ranked 105th in the nation. On defense, they ranked 102nd in pass defense, allowing 259.6 yards per game. However, they did rank 35th in the nation in red zone defense, allowing only 30 touchdowns on 46 possessions.

Who will win the Texas Bowl?

TCU has momentum on its side

The extra break before this bowl game will help Arkansas more than the red-hot Horned Frogs, but Franks is still questionable to play, and if he is out, I love TCU here. Even if he plays though, TCU is excellent at getting off the field on third down and Arkansas is terrible at converting on third down. Duggan will be able to move the ball through the air, so it will just come down to converting red zone opportunities.

TCU went 4-1 ATS as a favorite this year and 3-0 ATS against teams with a losing record. Arkansas went 1-2 ATS against teams with a winning record. TCU is also 3-0 ATS in the month of December over the past three seasons. I like the Horned Frogs to pull out a high-scoring victory over the Razorbacks in the Texas Bowl.

Score prediction: TCU 48, Arkansas 27

NCAAF pick: TCU -4.5, Over 57.5

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