Here is everything you need to know about the Big 12 showdown between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Oklahoma Sooners in our preview.
7 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma
Records: TCU 8-1 (5-1 in Big 12); Oklahoma 8-1 (5-1 in Big 12)
TV: FOX (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft)
Radio: Sirius 83/XM 83 (check local listings for TCU and Oklahoma affiliates)
Fun facts: This is the fifth time the Horned Frogs and Sooners have met as ranked teams. Oklahoma owns a 3-1 advantage in that series. Additionally, in their five Big 12 meetings the average margin of victory is 4.2 points and has never been more than 7 points. OU is 11-5 all-time against TCU, but just 4-4 in Norman. And, former Dallas Cowboys long snapper Dale Hellestrae is the analyst for Compass Media’s national radio broadcast.
TCU Horned Frogs
QB Kenny Hill. This is a different Kenny Hill. He makes better decision in the pockets, avoids interceptions and has a solid running game to rely up. Now that it isn’t necessary for Hill to carry the full load for the Horned Frogs, he’s put together his highest-quality season in college, even if his statistical numbers don’t represent it. Like Baker Mayfield, he can beat you with his arm and with his feet. His decision-making in the pocket will be key to TCU’s hopes on Saturday.
RB Kyle Hicks. This could easily be Darius Anderson, the Horned Frogs’ sophomore back who helped the Horned Frogs weather a September largely without Hicks. But in a big game like this Hicks could end up being a monster for the Horned Frogs. He is their most versatile back, as he can work out of the backfield or in the slot as a pass receiver. He has more speed than any other back on the team and last year against OU he had 142 rushing and receiving yards and two touchdowns. Expect to see both Hicks and Anderson, but it could be Hicks that has the bigger impact if he can get out in space. Hicks, after all, had two touchdowns against Texas last week.
DE Ben Banogu. Don’t remember him from last year’s meeting? You’re forgiven. He sat out last year after transferring from Louisiana-Monroe. But this year Banogu has injected the Horned Frogs pass rush with significant energy, as he has 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s coming off a two-sack game against Texas. At 245 pounds the OU offensive linemen might be able to push him around a bit, but they’d better hold their blocks because if Banogu can get away from contact he accelerates fast to the quarterback.
QB Baker Mayfield. He plants flags. He wins Bedlam games. He solidifies himself as a Heisman Trophy frontrunner. Mayfield is not just the conference’s best quarterback. He’s the conference’s national face, and for the second straight week Mayfield will be out to shred another Big 12 contender on national television. Don’t expect 598 passing yards this week against TCU’s vaunted defense. In this game all that matters is that Mayfield is 2-0 against TCU and hasn’t thrown an interception against them in two meetings.
LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Even if NFL scouts can’t quite agree on what he will be, right now he’s the heart of OU’s defense. He leads the Big 12 with 8 sacks and is ranked in the Top 5 nationally in the same category. He also has 14 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. TCU’s offensive linemen, most notably tackle Joseph Noteboom, will have their hands full with the 240-pound senior.
RB Rodney Anderson. Once head coach Lincoln Riley gave Anderson some full-time carries the yards started piling up. Anderson has rushed for 439 yards in his last three games and given the Sooners a real lift in the rushing attack, which has in turn taken the heat off of Mayfield. This is the first season Anderson has been healthy since he hit campus in 2015 and it’s finally paying off for OU. TCU will be a massive test for Anderson, as the Horned Frogs are No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game.
TCU Horned Frogs
This is where the rubber meets the road for TCU when it comes to the College Football Playoff. If the Horned Frogs want a chance at an invite, they need this win over OU. Their best win right now is Oklahoma State, and their best non-conference win is against Arkansas. A win over Top 5 Oklahoma would give their resume the jolt it needs. The TCU defense has been terrific this year, far more physical than last year’s unit and one of the best in the nation at third-down and red-zone defense. The Horned Frogs are not immune to giving up yards (they gave up 500 or more to Oklahoma State and West Virginia). But watch those two categories, along with the turnover ratio. If the Horned Frogs win those categories they have a real shot. As for the offense, the Horned Frogs need WR KaVontae Turpin to be a big playmaker in this game. He’s the one player that the Sooners may not have an answer for and he missed last year’s meeting with an injury.
A win on Saturday means the Sooners are one of the likely participants in the resurrected Big 12 title game, as their final two games against Kansas and West Virginia are both winnable (Kansas is practically a gimme at this point). OU needs to continue to use Rodney Anderson liberally, even if he doesn’t gain much against TCU’s front seven. The Sooners need to use the run to help give Mayfield more time to throw against a quick and talented TCU secondary. Mayfield needs a clean game on Saturday — no interceptions, no fumbles. TCU will pounce if given the opportunity. Defensively the Sooners need to support their young secondary. Three freshmen were on the field late in the Bedlam game, and TCU will no doubt try to exploit that if it happens again, and it potentially could. Senior safety Will Johnson will miss the first half after his targeting ejection, junior safety Khalil Haughton is out with an injury and sophomore corner Parnell Motley will have to fight to get back into the starting lineup. A pass rush led by Okoronkwo would help, along with some pass break-ups early in the game to give the younger players some confidence.
Oklahoma 33, TCU 30
Every Big 12 matchup has been close between these two teams. They’re dead-even all-time in Norman. You have one of the best young offensive play-callers in the country in Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley and one of the best defensive minds in the country in TCU head coach Gary Patterson. If this were last year it would be a de facto Big 12 Championship game. The fact is there is some possibility they could meet again in a few weeks for the actual Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, Texas. It doesn’t get much better in this conference. OU wins this one on a late offensive drive led by Mayfield, as he and Riley find a solution against TCU’s defensive maestro. It’s gonna be fun.