Oklahoma State and TCU couldn’t be playing more contrasting brands of football at the moment. As the Cowboys are averaging about 40 points per game in its last four contests, the Horned Frogs have put up 16 points per game during that same stretch. It makes for the rare offense vs. defense matchup in the Big 12 when the two teams square off in Fort Worth this weekend.
The Cowboys are looking to avenge the 44-31 thrashing that they received from TCU last season. How much more do they have left in the tank after playing four consecutive games decided by one score or less?
Likewise, can TCU survive all of the injuries that have impacted the team this season? If not, the Horned Frogs will be heading home for the holidays.
Oklahoma State at TCU
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -4.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Starting fast
The contrasting styles of these two teams make how the game starts paramount for both of them. Namely, if Oklahoma State gets off to a fast start, TCU doesn’t have enough firepower to catch back up.
Instead, Gary Patterson’s team is hoping that its salty defense can do enough to keep the Horned Frogs within striking distance late in the game. Easier said than done.
2. Who is more motivated?
A loss here would mean no bowl game this season for the Horned Frogs. Count on Patterson’s team playing sharp football — no turkey hangover for this squad.
The Cowboys secured a bowl trip last week with an upset win over West Virginia. Maybe that will tide them over, but the sting of last year’s defeat at the hands of TCU still has to sting.
3. Oklahoma State’s road woes
The Pokes have played mostly uninspired football this year away from the confines of Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. Their 1-3 road record includes getting bombed 31-12 by Kansas State and coming apart in a 35-31 defeat to Baylor.
OSU’s near upset of Oklahoma in Norman earlier this month shows the team isn’t completely hopeless away from home. TCU doesn’t want to face that version of this team.
TCU is down to third-string senior Grayson Muehlstein at quarterback for this game, so the Horned Frogs will likely look to run the ball and play keep away from Oklahoma State QB Taylor Cornelius and his armada of offensive weapons. Fortunately for the Horned Frogs, the Cowboys have a pedestrian rush defense that is giving up 4.4 yards per attempt this season, which ranks seventh in the Big 12.
Equally important for TCU, OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has implemented a pass rush that has led to 38 sacks this season, the second-highest total in the entire country. If the Horned Frogs can’t light a fire under their ground game, they will have to give Muehlstein time in the pocket to throw.
The variable that is hardest to predict in this case is OSU’s frame of mind. The Cowboys have played highly emotional games in four straight weeks. The fact that they have managed to keep their focus in that period suggests they have another solid performance in them. A flat team will be more likely to let TCU hang around and win this game.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 31, TCU 20
— 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.