As if the Sooners of Oklahoma had not been tested enough this year, here the team is yet again in a massively important game as they are set to battle #6 TCU on Saturday. Baker Mayfield and the Sooners will host the Horned Frogs in what is essentially a de facto Big 12 Championship Game. The conference foes each enter the game at 8-1 overall (5-1 in conference) with each only losing against the emerging Iowa State Cyclones.
The match up will be a battle of strength on strength, as the Horned Frogs are 6th in the nation in scoring defense (13.9 points allowed per game) while the Sooners are 2nd in scoring offense posting a blazing 45 points per game. TCU also posts high national ranks in sacks (t-11th, 3.11 sacks per game), rushing defense (1st, 69.7 yards allowed per game), and 3rd down defense (7th, 26.7% of third downs allowed). Offensively, TCU presents a steady and balanced attack led by quarterback Kenny Hill and running back Darius Anderson that will surely be able to put up points against a sub-par Sooner defense.
The contest will be the biggest challenge of the season for Baker Mayfield, who will look to keep the Sooners in the Playoff hunt as well as continue to push himself towards a Heisman Trophy. Mayfield torched Oklahoma State last Saturday throwing for 598 yards and 5 touchdowns, but the Cowboy defense is nowhere near as stout as that of the Horn Frogs. That being said, TCU is incredibly strong against the run while being about average against the pass, so if Mayfield is able to avoid taking too many sacks he should be able to produce.
Everything about Oklahoma’s season tells me to go with Mayfield and the Sooners here. OU is playing at home, has arguably the best offense (and best quarterback) in the country, and is coming off a big win against the in-state rival Cowboys. Yet, despite all of that, I have never found myself able to confidently pick against Gary Patterson and TCU. When the Horned Frogs lost to Iowa State, the offense managed only 7 points for the game. Oklahoma’s defense has only held one opponent, UTEP, to less than 10 points in a game this season. The Sooners have also allowed at least 24 points in each of the last six games, including 52 to Oklahoma State and 41 to lowly Baylor.
In short, looking at the match up it is almost certain that the Horned Frogs will be able to put up points on the Sooners while TCU also presents OU with the toughest defense they have faced all season. Gary Patterson has managed to build TCU into a program that wins in a way no one else in the Big 12 seems capable of – with great defense. Baker’s incredible run comes to an end Saturday, edge to the Horned Frogs 41-31 in Norman.