It wasn’t the cleanest win in the history of Oklahoma Sooners Football against BYU, but survive and advance, I guess? Oklahoma, still alive for the Big 12 title game, has a ton to play for. I am trying my best to keep in mind the rollercoaster hills and valleys of every season, but as we sit here, I see another below-average opponent. Like West Virginia, smoked, and BYU, meat was still raw, and I think to myself...
Surely this will go exactly as I anticipate, right?
Probably not, but here we go. The final stand, Oklahoma’s last regular season game in the Big 12...
What will I be watching?
- QB is a huge story coming into this one. We’re still not entirely sure who we will see. Dillon Gabriel suffered an “upper body” injury at BYU, and come off of a short week of prep, we might see Jackson Arnold’s first start. Despite playing for a national championship last year, the TCU defense has been carved up by a few teams recently — including Texas Tech. The “box score bar” should be very high no matter who is starting.
- I remain aware of the “evaluation” of Jeff Lebby heading into the final week. I know the “heat” has passed a bit after two straight wins, but all it takes is one reverse on 3rd and 3 and suddenly the OU fan base will be hellfire and brimstone on Lebby’s employment status in Norman. So yeah, I walk into every game with OU and think... the play-calling could lose them this game despite what the yardage totals tell us. As OU heads to the SEC, is having a coordinator that has been this much of a rollercoaster, on and off the field, really the best plan? I am always happy to be wrong, but I do wonder aloud if this weekend and the bowl game are the big test for Lebby’s status in 2024. Probably not for Brent, but I do think it will be for for Lebby in the eyes of the fan base.
- Can the defense just suffocate a struggling offense? Since the opening game of the Big 12 slate, the fewest points Oklaoma has surrendered is 20 to Iowa State and West Virginia. Now, I retain that those are fine performances, but I am calling for the thunder and lighting to come down like we all assumed from a Brent Venables defense. I am not saying my expectation is a shutout every week, but can Oklahoma cough up only one TD against TCU? That feels like it will be big for the momentum of the bowl game and 2024.
- Sawchuk has been the main guy for Oklahoma for three straight weeks, and truthfully it feels like it has paid off. Sawchuk can be extremely explosive and a heavy hitter when given the chance. I hope to see Sawchuk handed the reigns building into what we can only hope is a monster offseason in 2024. Having a massively improved running game next year in the SEC will be critical. “Chisholm, geez, like live in the moment man. This whole post is mostly about next year”. You, my friends, are so right. I find this to be a week of evaluation, putting the period at the end of the sentence of preparation for 2023 so fascinating. So.. yeah. Lots of big-picture thoughts.
Know your opponent: TCU Horned Frogs
- TCU is coming off their biggest game in a month, hanging 42 on Dave Aranda (what is going on with that team, by the way?). Josh Hoover was a big part of that lopsided score, with 412 yards passing. Hoover, since being handed the team in week 6, has been rocky. Overall though, big totals in some of these games have shown the redshirt freshman might have a chance with more time. It’s worth mentioning that Hoover has been prone to the “what in the hell was that?” kind of throw and some big turnovers. Billy Bowman, Key Lawrence and anyone else on that back end should’ve taken extra reps on that jug machine this week. They are going to have chances.
- Emani Bailey has been the lead back for the Horned Frogs and has been solid. What is interesting is that while getting a bulk of the carries and averaging just over 5 yards a carry, the big play ability is missing. His longest run of the season is only 24 yards. OU should be able to bottle up this TCU run game, but at the bare minimum be spared the chunk plays we have seen at times this year.
- The passing game is a jumbled bag of names shaken up and spit out. All solid pass catchers with more than 30 receptions. Savion Williams, JP Richardson, Jared Wiley, and Jaylon Robinson are going to be involved. Not really a big playmaker to key in on going into this one. That can be seen as a good thing or a frustrating thing if this passing game starts to give the Sooners trouble. Oklahoma will have to be aware of the big play ability of all of these guys in different ways, and keeping a lid on this passing game could really completely neutralize this team.
Overall, I do think that TCU’s passing game is explosive and probably does snap the Sooners once or twice. However, I think that Oklahoma just has better players and are playing at home. I don’t know if it really comes down to more than that for me. It is close, closer than it should be, but a satisfying win.
Oklahoma - 34
TCU - 24
Talk to you later, knuckleheads.