Last week, the Oklahoma Sooners experienced the thrill of winning the best edition of the Red River Showdown in the storied rivalry's history. The TCU Horned Frogs this week will try to bring them back down to earth.
To do so, TCU head coach Gary Patterson will probably need to come up with a game plan to slow down Caleb Williams, OU's talented freshman quarterback. Williams took over for starter Spencer Rattler in Dallas last week and helped propel the Sooners to a comeback victory. Head coach Lincoln Riley is playing coy about who will trot out with the first team on Saturday night, but the smart money is on the rookie.
Here's what to watch as the Horned Frogs try to spring an upset of OU in Norman.
TCU at No. 4 Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma -13.5
When TCU Has the Ball
Compared to many recent TCU teams, this edition scores points in bunches. A 52-point outburst a week ago versus Texas Tech raised the Horned Frogs' scoring average to 38.4 points per game in 2021.
Quarterback Max Duggan is piloting a diverse offense that can rack up yards through the air and on the ground. TCU hammered the Red Raiders for 394 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 47 carries last week. The duo of running backs Zach Evans and Kendre Miller did most of the damage, running for a combined 328 yards on 29 attempts. Duggan barely even had to throw the ball, completing eight of his 10 pass attempts for 104 yards and a touchdown.
The Oklahoma defense won't have much time to lick its wounds after receiving a shellacking from the Texas Longhorns last week. UT roasted the OU secondary with 388 passing yards for the game, including nine completions to freshman wideout Xavier Worthy for 261 yards. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is probably spending the rest of the week auditioning new cornerbacks, in particular.
When Oklahoma Has the Ball
Williams' legs and improvisational ability bring a new dimension to an OU offense that did far less in the QB run game with Rattler at the helm. Williams showed what he can do on the ground with a 66-yard TD run in the first half. His mobility also bought time on multiple occasions for OU to complete deep shots in the second half.
If OU starts Rattler behind center, which seems unlikely, count on a pass-happy approach with more downhill running.
The TCU defense has been a shadow of its usual self this year in giving up more than 28 points per game. The Horned Frogs have been especially accommodating against the run, giving up 5.2 yards per attempt. Sooner running backs Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray will look to build on a prolific day against Texas with another this week versus TCU.
TCU is catching Oklahoma at an almost ideal time. The Sooners are coming off an emotional victory, and Riley is sorting out what to do at QB. That's a lot for OU to shore up in the span of a few days.
Patterson and his staff are presumably cooking up some exotic defensive schemes this week under the assumption Williams will be taking snaps on Saturday. Williams threw some impressive deep balls against Texas, but what happens when he's facing more conventional passing situations? The TCU defense may not be elite, but it's not a stretch to say the Horned Frogs can find unique ways to pressure a green QB.
TCU's fortunes may hinge even more directly on how well Duggan and his receivers can exploit OU's leaky defensive backfield. TCU's QB can run hot and cold — the frosty version could torpedo his team's chances of pulling off an upset. On the other hand, the Horned Frogs have more than enough athleticism at the skill positions to break off enough explosive plays to turn this into a shootout.
A track meet still favors the home team, but it could get wild.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38, TCU 34
Podcast: Week 7 Preview & Predictions + Picks Against the Spread
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.