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OU FOOTBALL: Two top 10 teams clash in Norman Saturday night

Sue Ogrocki / AP
Marquise Brown (No. 5) is suddenly becoming a receiving threat for the Sooners as he set the school record with 265 yards last week against OSU.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – No. 5 Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) is in the driver’s seat in the Big 12 Conference and hopes to steer the Sooner Schooner to Arlington, Texas for the league’s championship game. But, the Sooners aren’t alone in this journey as TCU is riding shotgun with an identical conference record.

The sixth-ranked Horned Frogs (8-1 overall) will be the second-straight ranked foe the Sooners face when the two meet at 7 p.m. (FOX) Saturday.

Oklahoma defeated then No. 11 Oklahoma State, 62-52, last Saturday in a wild scoring fest that saw very little defense (1,446 combined yards). TCU, however, has one the of the best defenses in the nation.

The Frogs are fresh off a 24-7 victory over Texas last weekend. TCU is bringing the sixth best defense in both points (13.9), and yards (284.1) allowed. The Frogs are the nation’s best in stopping the run giving up 69.7 yards per outing.

The Sooners have averaged 213.2 rushing yards a game (28th), but OU has the nation’s best passing offense averaging 395 yards per game. Putting up 608 yards per game has the Sooners tops in the country in total offense, and their 45-point average is third-best.

So, now you get the gist of this showdown—TCU’s defense vs. Oklahoma’s offense. The history of this series suggests another nail-biter. The average margin of victory is 3.6 points in the previous 16 meetings. Oklahoma’s biggest win in this series was a 35-10 victory in 2008. The Frogs twice beat OU by 13 points (identical 20-7 scores in 1947 and 1996) for their largest margins of victory.

TCU’s defense has held opponents to under 10 points five times this season and has not allowed a touchdown in 13 of the last 16 quarters. The Frogs racked up a season-high seven sacks against the Longhorns and held them to just nine rushing yards, the third time the defense has held an opponent to fewer than 25 yards this season. It was also TCU's fifth time this year allowing 70 or fewer rushing yards, including the fourth straight game. Defensive end Ben Banogu has logged 12.5 tackles for loss including 6.5 sacks and linebacker Mat Boesen has recorded 5.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage including 5 sacks.

Linebacker Travin Howard leads the Frogs with 70 tackles. He also has 7.5 tackles for loss and one interception. TCU has 8 interceptions this year, and safety Nick Orr leads the team with two picks.

The Frogs rank seventh in third-down defense (26.7%). The Sooners’ offense ranks 11th with a 47.4% success rate in third-down conversions.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been the cog in OU’s explosive offensive engine. He leads the country with a 201.6 efficiency rating. Last weekend he threw for a school-record 598 yards and 5 TDs in the win over the Cowboys. What makes the Sooners offense more dangerous is Mayfield has found another go-to receiver—Marquise Brown who caught 9 passes for a school-record 265 yards and a pair of scores. Brown’s 38 receptions for the year trails team leader Mark Andrews by one catch.

Running back Rodney Anderson rushed for 111 yards, and Trey Sermon picked up 81 more. Both scored a touchdown against OSU. Sermon’s 53-yard run with 42 seconds to put the icing on the Sooners’ Crimson cake. OU and OSU had battled to a 38-38 halftime tie, but the Sooners outscored the Pokes 24-14 in the second half.

Mayfield was honored as the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this year. Brown was named the league’s Newcomer of the Week for the first time. Kicker/punter Austin Seibert earned the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honor after kicking two field goals, making all eight extra point attempts, punting twice for a 47.5 average and booting 10 of his 11 kickoffs for touchbacks. No school has had three players honored in one week.

Oklahoma’s defense continued to struggle as it allowed OSU’s Mason Rudolph to throw for 448 yards and 5 TDs. Freshman cornerback Tre Norwood showed promise as Parnell Motley’s backup and Norwood led the Sooners with 7 tackles last Saturday.

OU’s defense has given up 262.8 passing yards (109th) per outing; 413.1 average (87th) in total yards and 28.2 points (76th) this year. But in the last three games, the D has adjusted after intermission. After opponents rolled up a combined 989 yards in the opening half, the Sooners held them to 521 yards in the final 30 minutes.

Tackle Neville Gallimore is expected back in the lineup to give Oklahoma more depth on the line, but the secondary has been depleted as cornerback Jordan Thomas is expected to miss Saturday night’s contest with a knee injury. Safety Will Johnson will miss the first half after being ejected for targeting an OSU receiver.

TCU quarterback Kenny Hill has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,009 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 15/5. The receiving corps of Desmon White, KaVontae Turpin, John Diarse, and Jalen Reagor have combined for 98 receptions for 1,256 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The running back tandem of Darius Anderson and Kyle Hicks provide a balanced rushing attack, combining for 1,161 yards and 10 TDs.

TCU has converted 50 percent of their third-down conversions and is the only team ranked in the top 10 nationally in third-down conversion success on offense and defense.

Other than identical records, Oklahoma and TCU have one thing in common this year—they both lost to Iowa State by seven points.

The Sooners’ O-line didn’t play as expected against OSU yielding five sacks. This unit must do a better job protecting Mayfield to allow him to make the good decisions against a rugged defense. OU’s secondary must play heads up and not let the receivers burn them for big plays. The Frogs secondary gave up 398 yards to OSU’s Mason Rudolph and 366 to Will Grier of West Virginia.

Oklahoma defense must pressure Hill and not let him run or throw for big yards. Linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo leads the Sooners with 14.5 tackles behind the line (9th nationally) including 8 sacks (5th). He must be turned loose to disrupt Hill. TCU will hope to control the clock and keep Mayfield and Co. on the sideline.

Both of these teams could be riding together into AT&T Stadium in three weeks. The winner holds the reins in the driver’s seat. Who rides shotgun is another matter altogether as Iowa State, OSU, and West Virginia have two losses each.

FAST FACTS

*OU leads the series 11-5 including two straight wins.

*The series is even at 4-4 in Norman, but the Sooners have won three straight.

*OU is favored by 6.5.

*OU coach Lincoln Riley’s record: 8-1 (.889) overall; 0-0 vs. TCU; 3-1 at home; 5-1 vs. Big 12 opponents; 2-0 vs. ranked foes.

*TCU coach Gary Patterson’s record: 157-55 (.741) overall; 2-5 vs. OU; 65-29 on the road; 30-21 vs. Big 12 foes; 24-20 vs. ranked opponents.

*OU is 13-5-1 in games played on November 11.

*TCU is 10-6 in games played on November 11.

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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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