We’re now deep into Championship November with the nation’s sixth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs heading into Norman to take on the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners in prime time. These two programs have established themselves among the top of not only the conference in recent years but in the national contention for the College Football Playoff once again. Gary Patterson has brought his program a long way, and though this may not be his strongest squad (2014 takes the cake for that one), he will bring in a formidable one to spoil the Sooners’ run for a second playoff berth in the last three seasons.
Obviously, TCU is known as the conference’s heavy-hitter on the defensive side of the ball. With playmakers on every level, specifically a group of versatile linebackers and a reactive, disciplined secondary leading the way, Patterson has the scheme to give even an offense as sophisticated as Oklahoma’s some trouble. As Sam alluded to in his preview, the game will likely be tight through the first half. Turnovers from either team will be monumentally crucial this evening, as points will definitely be at a premium unlike the last few weeks of roller coaster action for the Sooners.
But what the Frogs do with their defensive scheme is put the onus on the quarterback to execute plays and reads by sticking to their disciplined approach to reading the run, pass and especially the play-action game. Their defensive backs are among the best and well-coached in the nation, and even a master like Baker Mayfield will need some nuance in baiting them into biting on play-action the way he’s done with most opponents outside of Iowa State. The Sooners have the nation’s best quarterback, and once again, it’ll come down to him to take over if the run isn’t established early.
Here’s our friend RJ Young’s take on how he feels OU can beat TCU’s unique defensive scheme:
If TCU does drop eight men in coverage like Matt Campbell employed last month, then we’ll likely see Mayfield scrambles and a short screen game to methodically move downfield. There may be the occasional shot downfield to OU’s multitude of playmakers in Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews and company, but Mr. Trill will also have his studs in Jalen Reagor (still wish you’d have come to OU with your guy Rambo, man) and jump-ball specialist John Diarse making plays, too. A controlled pace and patience could settle Oklahoma into the offensive rhythm Lincoln Riley has cooked up, provided they hang on to the ball early and often.
But at least with Kenny Hill on the other side, it’s possible with a little discipline, disguised coverage and a layered pass rush of its own, Oklahoma could get the ball back from the Frogs a time or two, as well. TCU’s receivers could have their way with the young Sooners secondary, but Oklahoma’s front seven could make it tough on Hill all afternoon and slow him down by the second half.
I’m not sure this game gets to the over. The scores that have been popping into my head this week are in the thirties, and I don’t see either team eclipsing 40. Gary Patterson’s defense should be as respected as Ohio State’s, Iowa State’s and Auburn’s, whom the Sooners have all tallied over 30 points during this calendar year. Tonight, Oklahoma will do the same and prevail in a tight, intense, blockbuster evenin’ ball game in Norman. OU 38, TCU 27, the Sooners march on.
TV: FOX 7:00 P.M. CT
Live Stream: FoxSportsGo
TV Commentary: Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft
Head down to the comments section for the game thread, where we’ll be asking questions, making predictions and discussing the day’s action with y’all.
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