This game has all sorts of interesting story lines. OU is breaking in a new defensive coordinator, TCU is trying to keep their season from completely derailing, and there was chaos aplenty in the CFP race this weekend. It’s an opportunity for Oklahoma to show that they are still national contenders and an opportunity for Texas Christian to reenter the Big 12 championship race.
Back at it. #BeatTCU
? 11 a.m. CT
? Fort Worth, Texas
presented by @VisitNorman pic.twitter.com/7MF6wCTwyH
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) October 15, 2018
The Team: This matchup does not look like it did three months ago. Coming into the season, OU vs. TCU was expected to be a matchup of two opponents both at least in the top 15, potentially both undefeated, and both firmly in the Big 12 Championship race. Instead, since a close loss to Ohio State that left many people impressed, TCU has dropped a game to Texas, barely squeaked by Iowa State, and lost to Texas Tech. All three of those Big 12 opponents are solid squads capable of beating anyone in the conference, but TCU was expected to glide by them all. A 3-3 start isn’t what Horned Frog fans had in mind. These two teams usually play close games. The biggest point victory from 2012 to 2016 was 7, with the winning team leading by an average of just over 4 points. That changed last year, however, with two convincing wins for Oklahoma.
The Defense: The defense for TCU has been playing well overall; they are averaging 20 points per game in Big 12 play. The team leads the Big 12 in total defense, third down defense, and scoring defense. They are 16th in the nation in total defense and 15th in passing yards per game. The defense is more or less what you’d expect from a Gary Patterson TCU squad.
The Offense: The offense, however, has been struggling. A lot of that load has fallen to TCU’s quarterback, Shawn Robinson. Robinson is completing just 61% of his passes, has a QB rating of 124.8, and has only one more touchdown than interceptions on the season. Additionally, Robinson’s play has been in direct correlation with TCU’s losses. In TCU’s three wins, he has thrown a total of five touchdowns and two interceptions, while the three losses have seen four touchdowns versus six interceptions; that’s not going to cut it. Although Robinson has some good weapons like Jalen Reagor and KaVontae Turpin, he hasn’t found them consistently enough. The run game hasn’t fared much better, often due to a lack of threat from the passing game.
The Defense: This will be the first chance for Sooner fans to see the promised changes on the defense. Ruffin McNeill will be making his debut as the defensive coordinator, which has reportedly led to a change in alignment and personnel. Will the four-man front actually stay in play for most of the game? Will pressure be dialed up against a struggling Shawn Robinson? Will the defense play more than eleven guys throughout the game? Will this finally be the week to force turnovers against an interception-prone TCU squad? The answer to all of those questions can be yes if Oklahoma wants it to be. This is not an offense that should be able to do much against OU. However, the same can be said for the past few offenses that have played the Sooners. This is the time for the defense to let their talent shine and make a statement. If Oklahoma puts just a little pressure on Robinson, they can shut down the TCU offense.
The Offense: One area that TCU’s defense haven’t proven as strong as they have been in recent years is rush defense; they are giving up 130 rushing yards per game, with that number climbing to 150 rushing ypg in losses. OU has an opportunity to unleash Kennedy Brooks, along with a healthy dose of Trey Sermon and Kyler Murray, early to get the TCU defense tired and stacking the box. This could open up the passing game for Oklahoma as the game goes on and lead to a few big plays to guys like Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb.
OU hasn’t lost back-to-back games in the same season since 2014, hasn’t lost back-to-back regular season games since 1999 (Bob Stoops’ first season), and hasn’t lost back to back Big 12 games since 1998 (the Dark Ages). Don’t expect that to change this weekend. The Sooners come out angry, take some time to wear down the TCU defense, and then unload on the Horned Frogs in the second half thanks to a few big plays and a forced turnover or two. This one isn’t close at the end, with a final of 38-14.