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OU FOOTBALL: Sooners win, they’re in

Ray Dozier / Red Dirt Report
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield said earlier this week that playing a team for the second time in the same season is “always harder.” He is speaking of the rematch between his No. 3 Sooners (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) and No. 11 TCU (10-2, 7-2), which will be held at 11:30 a.m. (FOX) Saturday.

“It’s always harder playing somebody the second time because you see exactly what they wanted to exploit and you have to fix and work on those things in the meantime,” Mayfield said. “For us, it’s about adjusting on the fly. We’re gonna have our base game play and so will they.

“Then when you play someone for the second time, it’s about in-game adjustments and the most physical team is gonna win. You’re gonna be ready game-plan wise. There’s gonna be people in the perfect spots. It’s about winning your individual battles and matchups.”

Rematches have not been a problem for OU in past Big 12 Championships. The Sooners have been to the Big 12 Championship Game eight times, and three of those contests were rematches from the regular season. Oklahoma twice defeated Kansas State in 2000, Colorado in 2002 and Missouri in 2007.

The Sooners beat the Horned Frogs, 38-20, three weeks ago in Norman. If they beat TCU on Saturday, they’ll punch their ticket to the College Football playoffs for the second time in three years. OU rolled to a 38-14 halftime lead and coasted in the second half. Mayfield threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, but the Heisman Trophy candidate wasn’t the star of the game. That honor went to running back Rodney Anderson who amassed 290 total yards (151 rushing and 139 receiving). He also scored four times (two rushing and two receiving).

After being low on the depth chart for most of the first half of the season, Anderson has become the man-beast coaches had expected of him. He had only 22 carries for 85 yards and a couple of touchdowns in the first five games (he didn’t play against Baylor). Since then, Anderson has carried 116 times for 782 yards and 9 TDs. After catching just two passes for 15 yards in the first half of the year, he’s grabbed 14 for 268 yards and 5 TDs.

Anderson scored four touchdowns and ran for 118 yards in Oklahoma’s 59-31 win over West Virginia last week. Mayfield was almost perfect by completing 14 of 17 for 281 yards and 3 TDs. OU amassed 646 total yards and set a new school record by averaging 12 yards per play. The defense still had problems, this time it wasn’t burned by deep passes, but the running game. The Mountaineers rushed for 251 yards and scored four touchdowns. Coach Dana Holgorsen dialed up a bunch of wildcat plays with tailback Kennedy McKoy leading the run game with 137 yards and 3 TDs.

The Frogs won their last three games since the Oklahoma loss. They beat Texas Tech, 27-3, without starting quarterback Kenny Hill. The senior quarterback returned to throw for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-22 win over Baylor.

TCU brought the sixth-best defense in the country to Norman three weeks ago, and the Sooners not only gashed them for 38 points but 533 yards. The Frogs had yielded an average of 13.9 points and 284.1 yards before coming to Norman.

TCU coach Gary Patterson lives by teaching rugged defense. Linebacker Travin Howard leads the Frogs with 83 tackles, but end Mat Boesen is the best defender with 13 stops behind the line and 11.5 sacks. Ben Banogu on the other end slot, had 14 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Boesen, who had 5.5 sacks against Baylor, was ejected in the second quarter in the OU game for getting into a skirmish with a couple of Sooner players. Boesen kicked on Oklahoma lineman after a play.

This was the third straight year a TCU player has been ejected from the Oklahoma game. And, last week, safety Nick Orr got into fisticuffs with a couple of Baylor players, and the Big 12 suspended Orr for the first half of Saturday’s game. This could be a big blow since Orr is tied for second on the team with 59 tackles, and has two interceptions, seven passes defended, five broken up, and a fumble recovery.

The Frogs’ defense remains at the top of the charts nationally—No. 8 in points (15.7 average) and 18th in yards allowed (317.5). They are stronger against the run (No. 2) by yielding 90 yards per game. They have given up 227.5 through the air to rank 73rd.

TCU is one of the best defenses on third down conversions (8th) by allowing opponents a 29.1 percent success rate. The Sooners converted five of 13 in the first contest (38%).

The Frogs are going to have to be at their best against the No. 1 offense in the land. OU has hammered out 593.5 yards per outing (second with 377.8-yard passing average and fourth scoring 45.3-point average). Mayfield is the best quarterback in the nation by completing 71.4 percent of his passes for 4,097 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 37/5. His efficiency rating is 203.2, well ahead of the NCAA record he set last year.

Mayfield has several dangerous receivers at his disposal, among them Mark Andrews, a hybrid tight end/wideout who leads the Sooners with 51 receptions for 848 yards and 6 TDs. The junior is a finalist for the Mackey Award present to college football’s best tight end. Oklahoma’s top four receivers average 17.8 yards per reception and have scored a combined 21 touchdowns. Plus, there’s fullback Dimitri Flowers who has caught 22 balls for 393 yards and 4 TDs.

OU’s running game adds an average of 215.7 yards per outing (26th nationally).

How well Oklahoma’s defense performs against the TCU offense could be a key. The Frogs aren’t a power running team (184 average), and the Sooners have allowed 149.2 yards per game. Hill has completed two-thirds of his passes this year for 151 yards per game, and he’s thrown 19 TDs to 5 INTs.

The team that maintains its cool will have an advantage. Oklahoma tackle Dru Samia was ejected last week for retaliating against a West Virginia player. Neither team can afford to get a slew of stupid penalties.

Sooner coach Lincoln Riley agrees with his quarterback that playing a team twice in one year isn’t going to be easy.

“It’s two different games,” Riley said. “Nothing from the first one is gonna matter. They were a really, really good team when we beat ’em here and they’re still a really, really good team. You’re gonna have to play really well to beat ’em. We realize that.”

Look for the TCU defense to be more aggressive, but the Frogs might have a difficult time containing Anderson and Mayfield. TCU’s offense isn’t good enough to get into a shootout with the Sooners. Yes, OU’s secondary is not great (yielding 241.2 yards per game), but it should be good enough to keep Hill from throwing bombs. If Oklahoma can get ahead by a couple of touchdowns early, it will be over. It happened three weeks ago in Norman and will happen again at AT&T Stadium.

FAST FACTS

*OU is designated as the home team.

*OU leads the series, 12-5, including three straight wins.

*Both teams met once on a neutral field (Oklahoma City’s Taft Stadium); OU won, 34-19, in 1944.

*OU is favored by 7.

*Riley’s coaching record: 11-1 (.916); 1-0 vs. TCU; 1-0 at neutral sites; 8-1 vs. Big 12 opponents; vs. 3-0 ranked foes.

*Patterson’s coaching record: 159-56 (.740) overall; 2-6 vs. OU; 11-6 at neutral sites; 32-22 vs. Big 12 foes; 24-21 vs. ranked opponents.

*OU is 7-0 in games played on December 2.

*TCU is 3-4-2 in games played on December 2.

Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game

2000: OU 27, Kansas State 24

2002: OU 29, Colorado 7

2003: Kansas State 35, OU 7

2004: OU 42, Colorado 3

2006: OU 21, Nebraska 7

2007: OU 38, Missouri 17

2008: OU 62, Missouri 21

2010: OU 23, Nebraska 20

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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