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Matchups to Watch: Arkansas vs. TCU

The Horned Frogs and Razorbacks will meet for the first time since 2017. It’s Big 12 vs. SEC in the Texas Bowl!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 12 Louisiana Tech at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TCU will face a familiar foe on New Year’s Eve with the Texas Bowl title on the line. The Horned Frogs (6-4) are set to battle Arkansas (3-7) in the first matchup between the two rivals since 2016-17, when TCU split the home-and-home series with the Razorbacks.

The Horned Frogs are playing their best football of the 2020 season, riding a two-game winning streak and a 5-1 run over the team’s last six games. Arkansas, however, has been beaten up on the defensive end in recent weeks, allowing 48 points per game over their last four and conceding 50-plus points against Alabama, Missouri and Florida. The Razorbacks are 1-5 over their last six games with losses to three top-10 SEC opponents.

A victory would be a fitting end to a 2020 TCU football season that started slowly, but has gained steam as the year comes to a close. Not only can the Horned Frogs bounce back from a 5-7 campaign with their third bowl win in four seasons (2017 Alamo Bowl and 2018 Cheez-It Bowl), but they can enter 2021 with a lot of positive momentum.

TCU will be without former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie, who has left the program to become the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech. Here are three matchups to watch when the Horned Frogs and Razorbacks battle on New Year’s Eve.

Ochaun Mathis & Khari Coleman vs. Feleipe Franks

The former Florida Gator signal caller has enjoyed a good first season with Arkansas, tossing 17 touchdown passes and only four interceptions with over 2,100 yards through the air. He’ll need to avoid the edge pressure from Ochaun Mathis, who padded his sack total with two more against Louisiana Tech in TCU’s season finale. Mathis now has nine sacks on the season, tied for fifth-most in the nation. Coleman has continued to produce off the other edge, running his numbers up to 30 total tackles and three sacks entering the New Year’s Eve matchup with Arkansas.

Arkansas WRs vs. TCU DBs

Three Razorback pass catchers (Treylon Burks, Mike Woods and De’Vion Warren) are averaging over 16 yards per receptions (minimum 15 catches), which will test TCU’s secondary, one that has been prone to giving up big plays this season. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson has been one of the best corners in the nation, recently earning First-Team All-American honors from PFF. C.J. Ceasar II has finished the season strong, totaling three interceptions over his last three games. Add Trevon Moehrig, Ar’Darius Washington and Nook Bradford to the mix and it will be interesting to see how TCU’s defensive backs hold up against an experienced SEC quarterback and three big-play receiving threats.

TCU RBs vs. Arkansas LBs

Grant Morgan and Bumper Pool have been busy in the middle of the Arkansas defense this season, combining for 212 total tackles with Morgan recording 111 and Pool adding 101. The two veteran Razorback linebackers have a tough assignment this week in containing a TCU rushing attack that has topped the 250-yard mark three times over the last five games. Arkansas ranks near the bottom of the SEC in rushing yards allowed, surrendering roughly 190 per game on the ground. True freshman Kendre Miller was the star for the Horned Frogs against Louisiana Tech, running for 136 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries.