When Oklahoma and TCU get together, good games usually happen. Since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012, the five matchups between the two teams have been decided by an average of four points.
Last year’s game saw a thunderous TCU rally fall short. It also left head Horned Frog Gary Patterson feeling like his team got jobbed, and it’s in his nature to hold a grudge.
Of course, it’s not like either side should need extra motivation for a game that will probably serve as a knockout round for the College Football Playoff.
TCU at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Oklahoma -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. OU’s vulnerable secondary
The Sooners have struggled in coverage all year, a weakness that Oklahoma State all too happily exploited last week. To compound matters, OU’s secondary will be missing safety Kahlil Haughton for the entire game and safety/nickelback Will Johnson for the first half in conjunction with a targeting penalty versus the Cowboys. Cornerback Jordan Thomas may be hobbled as well, and he was already being picked on relentlessly when healthy.
As many as three true freshmen could end up seeing significant time at defensive back on Saturday night – safety Robert Barnes and CBs Tre Norwood and Tre Brown. Expect TCU offensive maestro Sonny Cumbie to test them early and often.
2. TCU dropping eight?
Defenses that seem to have the most success against OU quarterback Baker Mayfield (above, right) are playing soft umbrella coverages to take away the deep balls that he relishes.
If TCU goes this route, the trade-off would be fewer pressure packages. It might mess with Mayfield’s head to see just three pass rushers, but it also could put the defense in a bind by playing against type.
3. Special teams
Frequently overlooked when breaking down big games.
The Horned Frogs are getting tremendous all-around special teams play this season, including the contributions of dangerous kick returner KaVontae Turpin. The Sooners need kicker/punter Austin Seibert to prevent him from having too many return opportunities. For example, booming kickoffs through the back of the end zone should be considered a win for the home team.
Plenty of signs are pointing in TCU’s direction for this game. Once untouchable at home, the Sooners have proven to be far from bulletproof in Norman lately. The Horned Frogs’ weapons at the skill positions will test OU’s shoddy defense, which has to play shorthanded. Most importantly, the TCU D is built specifically to slow down teams like OU.
The Sooners’ main edge is at the quarterback position. They have possibly the best player in the country taking their snaps. TCU’s QB, on the other hand, has a reputation for cratering at inopportune times.
Unfortunately for OU, Hill has demonstrated greater maturity and poise this season than he has in the past. Betting on him to fall apart is a riskier proposition nowadays, and the Sooners probably need Hill to commit some gaffes if they want to sew up a win.
TCU has all the pieces necessary to knock off OU and will do so if Hill can keep it together.
Prediction: TCU 35, Oklahoma 34
— 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.