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Oklahoma Football vs. TCU: Game preview, storylines & predictions

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Will it be another fight to the finish when Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs come to town? Or will it be more like the recent matchups?

NCAA Football: SMU at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners (9-1, 6-1) are coming off an historic come-from-behind victory in Waco, but now the team is gearing up for the final home game of the 2019 season against a TCU Horned Frogs squad (5-5, 3-4) that’s playing for bowl eligibility. With a win, OU would clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship game for the third consecutive year.

If the month of November has proven anything for Oklahoma, it’s that these games are anything but predictable, so Lincoln Riley has officially challenged all Sooners fans to rock the Palace on the Prairie on Senior Night.

TCU Horned Frogs at No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners (Norman, Oklahoma — Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium)

Time & TV: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7:00 p.m. CT, FOX

Commentators: Joe Davis, Brock Huard and Bruce Feldman

Stream: FOXSportsGo

Radio: The Sooners Sports Radio Network with Toby Rowland can be found on KRXO 107.7 FM ‘The Franchise’ in OKC. For Tulsa listeners, listen to KMOD FM 97.5 or KTBZ AM 1430. Check out OU Football on TuneIn Radio for online access.

Line: Oklahoma -18 (as of Friday at 10:00 a.m. CT)

O/U: 64

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Storylines

The impact of CeeDee Lamb

Junior WR CeeDee Lamb has not only been Jalen Hurts’ No. 1 target in the passing game, he’s been Oklahoma’s most explosive player on offense in 2019. Not having him against Baylor made the Sooners’ 25-point comeback all the more improbable, but miraculously they found a way. On Monday, Lincoln Riley stated in his weekly media press conference that the superstar receiver’s availability was still “up in the air”, and later in the week he doubled down on that progress report.

If Lamb does return, his presence will certainly be felt by both teams. Not only does he take pressure off Oklahoma’s other receivers, he also applies even more pressure on the opposition. To make matters worse for Gary Patterson’s bunch, TCU stud senior CB Jeff Gladney will have to sit for the first half due to a targeting ejection in the third quarter of the Horned Frogs’ win over Texas Tech. Because of that, Lamb could do plenty of his damage early.

Can Oklahoma continue to force turnovers after finally ending the drought?

When senior CB Parnell Motley forced a Baylor fumble and sophomore S Patrick Fields recovered it in the third quarter, it was the first successful takeaway for the Sooners in five and a half games. For a while it seemed almost voodoo-like with how unlucky Oklahoma’s defense was with its lack of creating turnovers. Both that aforementioned fumble and redshirt freshman LB Nik Bonitto’s game-sealing interception were absolutely critical in completing the comeback against the Bears.

Perhaps now there is more reason for hope that the takeaways will continue to come. On the season, TCU has given up the possession 17 times (nine fumbles, eight INTs). The only team in the Big 12 who’s been worse in that regard is Oklahoma State with 18 total turnovers. Both of these teams just so happen to be the Sooners’ final two opponents in the regular season. If Alex Grinch’s group can practice what they preach, Horned Frogs freshman QB Max Duggan could be susceptible to a costly mistake or two.

How serious of a CFP contender is Oklahoma?

Despite the overwhelming elation the team felt after rallying to beat Baylor last Saturday, the College Football Playoff committee was not nearly all that impressed. Oklahoma hasn’t controlled its own destiny since inexplicably losing to Kansas State, but now more than ever its hopes of grabbing a top four CFP seed seem rather bleak.

The eye test matters, and style points matter. The Sooners’ resume isn’t wowing anybody this year, and with the recent string of close games, it’s hard to make an argument for them as one of the four unequivocally best teams. With three weekends to go, OU’s chances to finally make an emphatic statement are dwindling, but as long as there’s still time on the clock, there’s always a chance. This is college football, after all.

Prediction

With Lincoln Riley calling on the fans to make Senior Night a raucous environment, along with the emotional high the team will still have coming off a big comeback win on the road, I see the Sooners coming out fast in this one. Assuming CeeDee Lamb is back, he’ll have no problem taking what TCU gives him and running with it, especially in the first half with Gladney sidelined. On the other side, Duggan has yet to play in an atmosphere the likes of which he’s about to experience in Norman, and that will ultimately disrupt him just enough to allow Oklahoma’s defense to make a few momentum swinging plays.

Starting fast is one thing, but this is still a Gary Patterson coached team we’re talking about here. The Horned Frogs will play loose with nothing to lose, and because of that I see the final margin being a bit closer than the actual feel of the game will indicate.

Oklahoma 41, TCU 24

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