The Texas Longhorns, one of the historically iconic programs in the country, have been a part of a handful of hotly contested rivalries with a handful of the nation's storied programs in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
With the Razorbacks and Aggies firmly history in the annals of Longhorns football, the talk of a new rivalry with one of the Big 12's newcomers is slowly gaining some wavering traction. How legitimate of a rivalry can TCU truly offer the Longhorns?
Texas Christian, which joined the Big 12 this summer along with West Virginia, has been one of college football's best stories in the past five years, with the peak being a telling Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin that helped spring quarterback Andy Dalton into the NFL.
Traditionally, the Longhorns have alternated home matches with the Aggies on Thanksgiving night, but with their move to the SEC, Texas has looked at the Horned Frogs as a suitor to fill this spotlight.
But already in place for a 2013 Turkey Day showdown with Texas Tech in the books, what place does TCU truly hold in that delicate circumstance we call a rivalry?
What's in a Rivalry?
Let's first set some benchmarks to where Texas has been on the rivalry map.
Texas and Oklahoma provide a yearly showcase of true geographic clashing between neighboring states and, therefore, a power struggling of recruiting advantages.
The rivalry between the Aggies and Longhorns stretch back to institutional politics between the two universities, and there has been an obvious trickling down of sentiments to the athletic sides of the schools.
Even the Hogs and Horns go back to the old Southwest Conference days.
So in the grand scheme of things, the Horned Frogs have no real connection with the Longhorns, other than the shared college football landscape where the two programs have to compete for the same high school athletes.
And with a critical lack in impressive history, something that each other school has in significant loads, TCU just doesn't seem to cut it.
A Defensive Argument
There is one thing, which happens to be an integral piece to the success of the program, that TCU offers for this budding rivalry: Gary Patterson.
What the Horned Frogs lack in raw high school talent that the Longhorns seemingly get first crack at on a yearly basis, they make up in coachability. Patterson may not be the best role model, but his X's and O's on the field cannot be ignored.
That much is obvious with TCU's top 20 defense in its first season in the Big 12, a conference that boasts five of the FBS' top 15 offenses.
So while the Horned Frogs teeter on the slope that some call a rivalry, they can make a huge statement in that regard with a telling win in Austin on Thursday.
What's at Stake?
For a little dose of perspective, there are three NFL games spaced throughout the day, but there is only one college football game for the digesting turkey-lovers to watch.
Many used to see the Longhorns and Aggies may start to feel a little unsure of themselves when they see the Horned Frogs take the field.
At the end of the day, Texas simply looks like the juggernaut against the short history that is the TCU program. No slight to Patterson's Horned Frogs, but the writing is on the walls.
If the Longhorns are truly on the cusp of rebounding into one of the country's top-contending programs, then TCU is merely a stepping stone for that progression.
Sure, the Frogs are more than capable of fielding a team equipped to beat the Longhorns, but the conditions of each program's place in college football simply points down the road of more lopsided histories that favored the Horns, who rank second all time in wins.
The Bottom Line
College football is a national spectacle that offers a unique combination of amateurism, passion and culture, where each game flashes the potential of tomorrow's stars.
But laced between the exhilarating plays and the explosive athletes are the rivalries that culturally dip into generation after generation.
The Longhorns, by many accounts one of the iconic programs in history, have the record books that can perpetually invigorate the program with the best. And for a program like TCU to keep up, it will need a big line of Gary Patterson's waiting to coach up.
This is Texas' "rivalry" to lose.
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