Here is everything you need to know about the Big 12 championship game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Oklahoma Sooners in our preview.
Date: 11:30 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: FOX (Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Feldman, Petros Papadakis)
Radio: Sooners Sports Network: FLAGSHIPS KOMA 1520 AM & KRXO 107.7 FM (Toby Rowland, Merv Johnson, Chris Plank, Ted Lehman)
Radio: WBAP 820 AM, KTCU 88.7 FM (Brian Estridge, John Denton, Landry Burdine)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 83/XM 83 (TCU says CH 83, OU says 84… TRY BOTH!)
Fun facts: Saturday’s contest will mark the first Big 12 Championship Game since 2010. OU has more Big 12 Championship Game wins (seven) than any other program has appearances. It has played in eight of the league’s 15 title games and owns a 7-1 record. Nebraska ranks second with six Big 12 title game appearances, and Texas ranks third with five. Texas also ranks second with three wins.
TCU Horned Frogs
Kenny Hill, quarterback
Hill can’t be asked to try and keep up with Baker Mayfield. If this game becomes a shootout, TCU can’t win. But Hill, as the senior quarterback and leader of this team, has to have a steady game. He finished the season with 2604 passing yards, 19 touchdowns to five interceptions. He finished the season as the fifth most efficient passer in the Big 12 conference. Last time against OU he finished 13 of 28 for 270 yards and one touchdown.
Kyle Hicks, running back
When these two teams met in Norman, Darius Anderson finished the night as the team’s leading rusher with 42 yards. Anderson is out with his injury, so it’ll be Hicks who keeps carrying the load. But Hicks hasn’t has a game averaging more than four yards per carry in over a month. This is an OU run defense that can be vulnerable, and the TCU running game needs to get going to have a chance.
Ben Banogu, defensive end
The TCU front seven is arguably the greatest strength of this team and Banogu is its best pass rusher. Yes I know Mat Boesen technically may have more sacks, but that’s thanks to his 5.5 sack performance against Baylor last week. Banogu was quiet against the Sooners, with just two tackles and zero sacks, tackles for loss, or quarterback hurries. The OU offensive line is stout, but he needs to have himself a game.
Baker Mayfield, quarterback
Was there ever a doubt? The likely Heisman winner will be the most important player on the field this week. He’s the most efficient passer in the country and his afternoon will likely determine the outcome of this one. He threw 37 touchdowns to just five interceptions this season. Mayfield did have two fumbles against TCU, but did not lose either. If TCU can force him into a big mistake or two, then we’ve definitely got a ball game.
Rodney Anderson, running back
With the emergence of Anderson at running back, how he goes up against the best run defense in the Big 12 is a match up to watch. Anderson torched TCU for 151 rushing yards in November, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Anderson had four touchdown runs last week against West Virginia and has become the alpha dog in the backfield for Lincoln Riley. Let’s see if he can put together a repeat performance.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, linebacker
Okoronkwo finished second in the Big 12 with eight sacks, third with 17 tackles for loss and tied for second with three fumbles forced. Against TCU he was able to get behind their offensive line with five tackles including two tackles for loss. Obo is the focus for any offensive line and will be that again on Saturday for the Horned Frogs.
College Playoff implications
No, I don’t think OU needed the Big 12 championship game this year. But that being said, here we are. OU needs to win to likely get in, while TCU is essentially playing spoiler. I’ve outlined what needs to happen for TCU to make the College Football Playoff, but it’s still a major long shot. Is OU playing tight because of what is on the line? And does TCU come out guns blazing because they are playing with house money? Also, there are the head coaches facing off for the second time in a month. Who does that give an advantage to? Gary Patterson. It’s not a knock on Lincoln Riley, but Patterson is one of the best and most under-appreciated in the sport.
TCU rushing defense
The Horned Frogs have made their name on the rushing defense that is the Big 12’s best, giving up only 90 yards per game on the ground, including just 2.7 yards per carry. But when these two teams met in Norman, Oklahoma racked up 200 rushing yards on 41 carries, for a 4.9 YPC clip. The Horned Frogs have also only allowed six rushing touchdowns all season, but two were to Rodney Anderson. Now to Anderson, who’s quickly becoming one of the best backs in the Big 12. He’s averaging 131 rushing yards per game with 9 touchdowns since the Kansas State game on October 21st. He’s the real deal and TCU has its hands full trying to stop him and Baker Mayfield.
Oklahoma 38, TCU 27
I have all the respect in the world for Gary Patterson, but OU has too much talent that will simply overwhelm the Horned Frogs. Plus, it’s a fast track at Jerry World that lends another advantage to the Sooners. Despite TCU playing in its backyard, there may very well be more Oklahoma fans than TCU fans (based on sheer numbers of graduates) in DFW, so there is no homefield advantage for the Horned Frogs.
TCU has to play the first half without its leader in the secondary, Niko Small, who was suspended for the first half of the game following his involvement in last week’s fight with Baylor. Mayfield and company should have their way in the opening 30 minutes. No team makes better adjustments than Patterson, as TCU has allowed just six second-half points in its last seven games and has not surrendered a touchdown after halftime since Oct. 7 versus West Virginia. But the hole will be too big to dig out of, as I think the Sooners will lead by 10 points at the half and maintain it through the final 30 minutes.