The Sooners (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) came in ninth in the latest edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, a sign that they still have work left to do to position themselves for a spot in the postseason tournament. On the other hand, TCU (5-5, 3-4) needs another win just to secure bowl eligibility. Sounds like it's setting up for an OU blowout, right?
TCU head coach Gary Patterson has done some of his best work when counted out. OU is a deserving favorite in this game, but the Horned Frogs will feast on some of the sloppy mistakes that the Sooners have made down the stretch. OU also may find it difficult to get up for a game versus a five-win team after last week's magical comeback to beat previously undefeated Baylor on the road.
Here's what to watch when the Sooners take on TCU on Saturday night in Norman.
TCU at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma -18
When TCU Has the Ball
The Horned Frogs are playing a conservative, bruising style of offense this season. For the season, TCU has run the ball on roughly 60 percent of its total plays. With the triumvirate of quarterback Max Duggan and running backs Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson leading the way, the Horned Frogs are pounding out 4.77 yards per rush, which ranks 41st nationally and fourth in the Big 12.
Taking full advantage of dynamic receiver Jalen Reagor is proving tougher for TCU. Through 10 games, Reagor has just 36 receptions for 545 yards and five touchdowns. Finding ways to get the ball in Reagor's hands should be a priority for TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie against the Sooners.
A key issue for OU's defense this weekend will be keeping tabs on Duggan when plays break down. TCU's freshman quarterback has broken off big runs this season when the field opens up on passing plays. OU inside linebackers Kenneth Murray and DaShaun White may draw the assignment of spying on Duggan in passing situations.
When Oklahoma Has the Ball
These are not vintage editions of either the TCU defense or the Oklahoma offense. They're both strong nonetheless.
The Horned Frogs are surrendering explosive plays at a high rate. Opponents already have 24 plays of 30 yards or more versus TCU this season, as many as the Horned Frogs allowed in 13 games last year. Given OU's ability to pick up yardage in big chunks on both the ground and through the air, Patterson has to prioritize limiting the damage from the Sooners' possessions.
Of course, if TCU loosens up its defense to keep from getting torched, OU has shown it can grind out sustained drives. Quarterback Jalen Hurts and backfield mate Kennedy Brooks will gladly run into light boxes when given the opportunity. Hurts also has to avoid the traps that Patterson will certainly lay for him in TCU's coverage schemes.
If Oklahoma's last three games have proved anything, it's that the possibility for a sloppy performance is always in play with this squad. In fact, you don't know what type of team you might get from one half to the next.
However, the optimistic interpretation of the Sooners' win at Baylor last week is that OU overcame a barrage of turnovers in a hostile environment to beat a previously undefeated team. And they did it without the best player in the Big 12, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
Assuming Lamb is back in action this week, TCU will need some major breaks to win this game — fumbles, defensive scores, missed OU field goals. Even if Lamb is a no-go, that's probably the formula for a TCU win anyway.
With the Sooners in search in style points to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee, head coach Lincoln Riley will take any opportunity to drop the hammer this week.
Prediction: Oklahoma 41, 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.