The Oklahoma Sooners (2-2, 1-2) seek to build on the positive momentum they earned by winning the Red River Showdown during this Saturday’s meeting with the TCU Horned Frogs (1-2). Strangely enough, both OU and Texas Christian have each played the exact same Big 12 opponents (K-State, Iowa State, Texas) this season and have come away with the exact same results in each contest as far as wins and losses are concerned. If recent history is any indication, this matchup figures to be another close call, one way or the other.
Date, Time & TV: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 11 a.m. CT on ABC
Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium — Fort Worth, Texas
Line: Oklahoma -6.5 (as of Friday at 9 a.m. CT)
Links of the week:
- Lincoln Riley Week Seven Presser Notes
- Frog O’ War Q&A with Jack Shields
- Oklahoma Breakdown Podcast with Frogs O’ War’s Melissa Triebwasser
Will Oklahoma finally maintain a lead in the fourth quarter?
Against Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas, the Sooners have held fourth quarter leads of 14, 7 and 14 points, respectively. In each game, Oklahoma saw those leads completely disappear by the end of regulation. Only against the Longhorns was OU ultimately able to finish on top in overtime.
When Oklahoma and TCU met in 2019, the Sooners jumped out to an early 21-0 lead, only to let the Horned Frogs chip their way back into the game and nearly escape Norman with a win (28-24 final). Losing leads late in games is a tell-tale sign of a young and inexperienced team, and the fact of the matter is, that’s precisely what OU is in 2020. In order for this group to truly grow, they’ll need to hold onto late leads whenever possible, if not extend them.
Can OU’s defense contain TCU’s QB running game?
Defending a quarterback with competent running ability has already proven to be a challenge for this Oklahoma defense. Two weeks ago against Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, the veteran signal caller rushed for 112 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries. How does that relate to this week’s matchup? On the season, sophomore QB Max Duggan leads the Horned Frogs on the ground with 43 attempts for 132 yards and three rushing TDs.
TCU QB Max Duggan (@MaxDuggan_10) has some sick speed. On the option it looks like he’s about to get tackled a couple times just for him to outrun the defenders. He nearly takes this one all the way and TCU doesn’t waste the 62 yard run as they score 7 two plays later.#WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/dskJZufmhF— Mark (@HeaneyNFLDraft) November 27, 2019
Last season, Alex Grinch’s defense allowed a freshman Duggan to rack up 92 yards and a score on just 12 carries (7.7 yards per carry). This time around, the Sooners will need to play hyper-disciplined football in order to limit the damage Duggan can create with his legs. Numerically, that should be somewhere under 50 yards. Anything too far above that and it’ll likely show itself on the scoreboard.
Which Sooners could make their 2020 debuts this weekend?
Much has been said about the NCAA’s questionable handling of the three OU players (WR Trejan Bridges, DE Ronnie Perkins, RB Rhamondre Stevenson) who have been serving suspensions dating back to last year’s Peach Bowl CFP semifinal. As of his meetings with the press earlier this week, Lincoln Riley has not announced their availability, but at this stage, there’s an outside chance his silence could be gamesmanship. I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s something worth keeping an eye on.
One Sooner that will definitely be available for the first time this season is UCLA Bruins transfer guard Chris Murray. He was recently declared eligible to participate this fall, and could provide an immediate boost to Oklahoma’s offensive line depth. With his talent and experience, he certainly has a chance to eventually start if he shows out when his number is called.
Is Oklahoma’s rushing attack truly back?
After averaging a subpar 123 rushing yards per game through the first three contests of the season, the Sooners erupted against the Longhorns for 208 yards on the ground. Part of that was the offensive line finally playing as a more cohesive unit, and another factor was junior RB T.J. Pledger simply playing out of his mind without Seth McGowan there to back him up.
Through its first three games of the season, the TCU defense is giving up an average of 179 rushing yards per contest, so unless Gary Patterson decides to make a concerted effort to shut down OU’s run game, the Sooners should be able to carve out some decent lanes for Pledger and company to work with.
As has been the case for the most part this season, I predict Oklahoma will start this game fast, offensively, taking an early lead over TCU. However, I do see the pace of this contest slowing down considerably after the first quarter, and that’s where the Horned Frogs will cover some ground. I don’t expect this matchup to be particularly high-scoring, but a late, time-consuming touchdown drive by the Sooners will ultimately put this one away.
Oklahoma 34, TCU 24
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