Week 4—the week in which most Big 12 teams open conference play—has some pretty big implications. Texas is visiting Stillwater, and Kansas State will roll into Morgantown to face West Virginia.
Oklahoma’s matchup with TCU this weekend, though, has arguably the biggest implications in terms of the Big 12 championship. If the Sooners can win in Fort Worth, it’ll go a long way in terms of momentum.
Yes, Oklahoma is 1-2. Yes, their playoff chances are entirely out of their hands at this early juncture of the season. Still, the Sooners have won six of the last 10 Big 12 titles—if only for pride, this season is still highly important. The Big 12 race is wide open this season though, with at least six legitimate contenders for the trophy.
“We’ve won a lot of championships around here with a couple losses,” Bob Stoops said after the loss to Ohio State. “Keep fighting, keep improving. The better teams improve through the year and that’s what we have to do. We have to keep improving this week to next week.”
Getting off to an 1-0 start in conference play is integral for the Sooners if they want a chance to win the conference title: OSU, Texas, Baylor, and others won’t wait around for the Sooners to catch up.
The first of two straight weekend trips to DFW for OU starts in Fort Worth against Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs. The departure of Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson to the NFL has G-Pat’s team still searching for an offensive identity. Kenny Hill–who is a major part of the Frogs’ emerging offensive identity–seems to have righted the ship after his strange journey in College Station. OU’s continued ineptitude against athletic quarterbacks like Hill has likely kept Mike Stoops up late this week. Hill has thrown for an average of 371 yards per game, and averages 41 yards on the ground. Hill has 12 total touchdowns on the season—six through the air, six on the ground—but he has thrown four interceptions. If OU’s interceptionless defense emerges from the game Saturday without a takeaway, I’m ready to write off the secondary entirely.
Luckily for the Sooners, TCU is missing their best offensive player: receiver and kick returner KaVontae Turpin. During TCU’s game with Iowa State, Turpin (who leads the team in catches and receiving yards), reportedly suffered a PCL tear, which could sideline him for the better part of the season. LSU transfer John Diarse has proven to be their top receiver in the interim.
Gary Patterson’s defense, which is typically pretty staunch, has taken a step or two back this season along with their offense. They’ve been decent through four games, but TCU’s D is still a very large question mark.
Despite their tackling issues in the open field, the Frogs’ defense has done well getting after the quarterback through four games, averaging 3.5 sacks. Defensive ends Josh Carraway and James McFarland are among the most talented in the nation, but their secondary is lacking playmakers just like the Sooners’. TCU gave up 40 points in their first two games against South Dakota State and Arkansas, but they improved in their next two games against Iowa State and SMU, giving up a combined 23 points. Expect Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, and company to move the ball and put up some points.
The total points odds are set at 69.5 right now, and that sounds about right: this will be a shootout. In fact, I might even be inclined to take the over on the point total. Neither defense is talented enough to keep the opposing offense from the end zone.
Prediction: OU: 49, TCU: 45
Oklahoma at Texas Christian kickoff is set for 4 P.M. on Saturday in Fort Worth. The game will be broadcast on TV on FOX, and on the radio on 107.7 The Franchise, OU’s flagship station.