Big 12 Previews

TCU vs. Oklahoma: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Oklahoma

Here is everything you need to know as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the TCU Horned Frogs in Big 12 action.

Game Info

11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

Records: Oklahoma (2-2, 1-2 Big 12); TCU (1-2, 1-2)

TV: ABC (Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Holly Rowe)

Radio: Oklahoma Learfield IMG Sports Radio Network; WBAP 820 AM, KTCU 88.7 FM, Sirius 135, XM 199.


Key players


QB Spencer Rattler

Rattler is certainly not a finished product in the way that Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts were when they inherited the starting job. However, there is definite talent there and he provided the Sooners some fuel in their four-overtime win over Texas two weeks ago. Through four games Rattler has thrown for 1,186 yards on 71.3 percent passing, 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He is going to make the occasional mistake, and the Sooners will live with that. But, coming off a bye week, head coach Lincoln Riley has had two weeks to dissect four weeks’ worth of film and whisper improvements into Rattler’s ear. He’s also had time to fine-tune the offense to what Rattler does best. I suspect we will see better play from Rattler moving forward.

RBs T.J. Pledger and Seth McGowan

Both backs have their qualities and both have provided some production. Pledger leads the team with 219 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while McGowan has 181 yards and two touchdowns (he also has a receiving score). Neither one of these guys was expected to be ‘the man’ this season, but some running backs that decided to opt out due to COVID-19 concerns moved these guys up the depth chart. Pledger (5-foot-9, 193 pounds) has that scat-like quality while McGowan (5-11, 211) is a bit harder to bring down. The Sooners can use both effectively, so don’t expect either to take control of the job necessarily. Both will get playing time. McGowan missed the Texas game due to concussion protocols and Pledger had a 100-yard rushing game. That won’t significantly impact the workload, in my opinion, unless McGowan can’t play again. And there was no indication as of Monday that he will miss the game.

LB DaShaun White

The Horned Frogs are going to have to find a way to deal with the 6-foot, 227-pound junior from North Richland Hills, Texas, which is a short drive from the TCU campus. Through four games White leads the Sooners in sacks (2.5) and tackles for loss (4.0) while netting just 14 tackles on the season. The best may be yet to come for the junior. He started in all 14 games a year ago and already has more sacks and tackles for loss than he did all of last season.


QB Max Duggan

The sophomore has had a full two weeks to recover from the loss to Kansas State, and this could be a hot seat game for him. He ceded a bit of his time during the Kansas State game to Matthew Downing, who started the opener against Iowa State. Duggan’s numbers look good, honestly — he’s No. 12 in the nation in completion percentage (68.6 percent) and even leads the team in rushing with 132 yards. But the Horned Frogs are 1-2 and Downing, a Georgia transfer, is biding his time, perhaps waiting for head coach Gary Patterson to make a change. Duggan’s hold on the job is not air-tight.

WR Quentin Johnston

It takes a lot to earn Gary Patterson’s trust, especially when you’re a freshman. But Johnson has done it, even though he only has five catches so far this season. The former four-star recruit — in fact the second-highest rated recruit of Patterson’s tenure — is a true X receiver. He’s averaging 24 yards per catch, his first collegiate touchdown catch was a 37-yarder against Iowa State and his 50-yard reception against Texas was the longest of the season. It’s only a matter of time before the Horned Frogs start getting more vertical, and Johnson will be the beneficiary. Kansas State held him without a catch.

SS La’Kendrick Van Zandt

Running backs love making big plays. So do converted running backs like Van Zandt, who gained more than 1,500 yards rushing at Henderson (Texas) High School before joining the Horned Frogs and moving to defense. The junior made the game-saving tackle against Texas a few weeks ago. He had seven tackles plus an interception in that game. You may also remember Van Zandt’s 24-yard touchdown return off a fumble against Iowa State. Wherever Van Zandt is, big plays seem to follow.


Key storylines


The Sooners are not out of the Big 12 championship game race yet, but after losses to Kansas State and Iowa State, Oklahoma really has no margin for error. The Sooners need to keep winning, beginning with Saturday’s game against TCU. The good news for OU is that they are coming off a bye week, during which head coach Lincoln Riley had the opportunity to fine tune his offense, and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch had the opportunity to make some corrections to Oklahoma’s porous defense. It will be up to the players to execute those changes, but we all know that the Sooners have a supremely talented roster. Plus, there is the source of pride of never having lost a Big 12 title under Riley. You can bet the Sooners’ coaching staff has been talking that up all week.


The Horned Frogs, like the Sooners, are coming off a bye week. And considering that TCU didn’t play a non-conference game, that bye week comes at a good time for adjustments. Few coaches nationally adjust better then Gary Patterson does on the defensive end of the football, and Kansas State certainly gave him plenty of tape to use to make those adjustments the past two weeks. Offensively, the Horned Frogs are still trying to find themselves. While Max Duggan has played well at times, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see a quarterback change. When it comes to the running game, the Duggan actually leads the team, and the Horned Frogs would probably like to see either Kendre Miller or Darwin Barlow take a bigger role running the football. The pair has a combined 39 carries to Duggan’s 43.


Oklahoma 35, TCU 28

With both teams coming off an open date, this one is a bit more difficult to predict. Still, Oklahoma enters the game with a 15-5 record all-time over the Horned Frogs. Plus, TCU is 2-7 against the Sooners in Fort Worth. Coming off a bye week I like TCU to keep it close, but the Sooners have the talent to pull away and take their second Big 12

win in a row, one they desperately need to stay within striking distance of the three undefeated teams in Big 12 action.

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