Seven years have passed since what was thought to be the final Big 12 Championship Game took place. The 2010 edition ended the same way as many of its predecessors: Big 12 South champ Oklahoma vanquished the Big 12 North representative (Nebraska, in this case).
The title game is back, and so are the Sooners. Standing between them and another conference championship is TCU, a program that wasn’t even a member of the Big 12 the last time the game was held.
OU is also gunning for a bid to the College Football Playoff, which is a certainty with a win over the Horned Frogs. TCU and irascible head coach Gary Patterson, meanwhile, would love to play spoiler in a rematch of the game the Sooners dominated earlier this year.
Big 12 Championship: TCU vs. Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Oklahoma -7
Three Things to Watch
1. Keeping composure
TCU head coach Gary Patterson made it clear this week that he still harbors some ill will over pregame shenanigans from the last time these teams played. That game also saw Horned Frogs senior defensive lineman Mat Boesen get tossed for kicking an OU player.
Last week, a brawl erupted on the sidelines during TCU’s matchup with Baylor, and as a result Horned Frogs starting safety Nick Orr, the team’s third-leading tackler, was suspended by the Big 12 for the first half of Saturday’s game. The Sooners have engaged in their own share of scuffles lately, including offensive lineman Dru Samia’s ejection last week for punching a West Virginia defender.
Bottom line: These teams have been feisty as of late. Don’t be surprised if tensions are running high on Saturday.
2. Containing Rodney Anderson
Star quarterback Baker Mayfield makes the OU offense go, but Anderson’s emergence at running back has proved vital to the team’s offensive explosion in the second half of the season. He had his best performance of the year against TCU, posting nearly 300 yards from scrimmage (151 rushing, 139 receiving) and scoring four total touchdowns.
The Horned Frogs should start with trying to limit Anderson’s effectiveness on the ground Saturday and work up from there.
3. Sonny’s disposition
What did TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie take away from the previous meeting with the Sooners? The Horned Frogs broke a few big plays early in the game, signaling a classic Big 12 shootout was in store. Eventually, however, the Sooners settled in on D and did just enough to prevent TCU from keeping pace with OU’s run-and-gun offense.
In crafting his game plan, Cumbie needs to figure out what really worked and what didn’t against OU in round one. Then, do that. A good place to start would be for Horned Frogs quarterback Kenny Hill (above, right) to complete at least half of his pass attempts, something he did not do against the Sooners (13-for-28, 270 yds., TD) the first time.
Oklahoma won handily the first time these two teams played this season. Would anything suggest the result might be different in their second meeting?
The Sooners won’t have home-field advantage. TCU will (presumably) have starting defensive lineman Mat Boesen on the field for the entire contest.
On the other hand, little about game one indicates the 38-20 result was fluky. Notably, there were no turnovers on either side or controversial plays. It came off mainly like a top-to-bottom beating by the Sooners.
That shouldn’t rule out an upset. Gary Patterson is a masterful tactician, and his teams often seem to feed off the multitude of grudges that he holds near and dear to his heart. The Horned Frogs defend well enough to fluster the country’s most prolific offense and capitalize on the mistakes.
Still, nothing about the first game offered any indication that TCU has enough firepower to hang with OU for four quarters. The Horned Frogs might put a scare into the Sooners, but this appears to be shaping up as another comfortable OU win.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38, TCU 30
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.