TCU (2-2) at (11) Oklahoma (4-0)
Saturday, October 5, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Newly-formed Big 12 Conference rivals collide on Saturday evening, as the TCU Horned Frogs challenge the 11th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
TCU is in just its second year as a member of the Big 12, and the Frogs closed out the 2012 conference slate at home against these same Sooners, losing by a final score of 24-17. As a result, Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 8-4.
TCU began this season among the nationally ranked, but a 37-27 setback to No. 12 LSU in the opener got things started on the wrong foot. A 38-17 win over FCS foe Southeastern Louisiana was their first win, but the league lid lifter against Texas Tech resulted in a 20-10 loss, leaving the Frogs with a 1-2 record heading into last week's non-conference clash with SMU. A 48-17 shellacking of the Mustangs evened the team's record, but with only Big 12 games left it's anyone's guess as to how well coach Gary Patterson's squad is going to fare.
Oklahoma is undefeated after four games, taking out the likes of ULM, West Virginia, Tulsa and No. 22 Notre Dame, scoring 34 or more points three times along the way. Last week's win ended a seven-game losing streak to the Fighting Irish and was just the second in 11 meetings for the Sooners against UND. OU, under the direction of Bob Stoops, will play its next two games outside of Norman, next returning home to tangle with Texas Tech on Oct. 26.
The Horned Frogs retained the Iron Skillet by knocking off SMU last week, getting a solid effort from Trevone Boykin (15-of-26, 228 yards, two TDs). Boykin, filling in for the injured Casey Pachall, completed passes to seven different players, with Ty Slanina turning his three grabs into 63 yards and a score. As for the ground assault, Waymon James and B.J. Catalon combined for 99 yards and two TDs.
Pretty much in survival mode at this point, Patterson is taking one game at a time and reflected on the win over SMU.
"We just wanted to win like I said all week. We were trying to find a way to get back to one point," He continued, "We did what we needed to do. We played great on special teams besides the blocked punt, played great defense and scored with opportunities and we'll go forward."
TCU had a rough time converting on third down (2-of-12), but averaged more than five yards per offensive play and scored on all five trips to the red zone. For the season, the Frogs are putting up 30.8 ppg in producing 349.2 ypg. They only have four passing TDs, all belonging to Boykin who has hit 60.9 percent of his tosses for 625 yards. Catalon leads the way with 214 yards and four TDs rushing, while Carter heads the receiving corps with 13 catches for 156 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone.
The TCU defense was on point last week, allowing a SMU offense which came in ranked 10th in the country in passing just 292 total yards, all while logging four interceptions and seven sacks. The Ponies had trouble establishing an offensive rhythm, tallying a net of only 16 rushing yards. The Frogs did all that without star defensive lineman Devonte Fields, who missed the game with a knee injury. Marcus Mallet paced the unit with 10 tackles, four of which he made behind the line of scrimmage, while Sam Carter picked off a pair of passes, one of which he returned 66 yards for a TD with just over a minute remaining in regulation.
Foes are generating 353.8 ypg, with their effort through the air resulting in 238 ypg and six TDs. On the scoreboard, the Frogs yield 22.8 ppg but have been credited with 15 sacks and 12 takeaways. Jon Lewis has three sacks, while Carter and Chris Hackett have three picks apiece.
Making just his second career start, Blake Bell completed 22-of-30 passes for 232 yards and two TDs to lead Oklahoma past Notre Dame in South Bend last weekend. Bell hit Jalen Saunders seven times for 46 yards, and Sterling Shepard five times for 83 yards and a score. The OU run game amassed 212 yards, with Brennan Clay gaining 77 yards on 14 carries, while Bell tacked on 59 yards on a dozen totes.
Corey Nelson returned an interception 24 yards for a TD to open the scoring last week at Notre Dame, setting the tone early for the Oklahoma defense, which allowed just 324 yards to the Irish, who tallied only 12 first downs and lost the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes. Frank Shannon and Quentin Hayes led the Sooners with eight tackles each, while the unit as a whole came up with three interceptions.
Having appeared in all four games this season, Bell has been highly efficient in completing 71.2 percent of his passes for 683 yards, six TDs and no interceptions. Saunders and Shepard are one-two in catches (17 and 16, respectively), with the latter accounting for 229 yards, and the two combining for six TDs. Clay has picked up a club-best 339 yards, but his two TDs account for half of the team's total rushing scores.
Oklahoma is giving up just 12.0 ppg, with opponents earning 299.5 ypg. The Sooners have been particularly stingy against the pass (169.0 ypg), permitting just two aerial TDs. Shannon leads the way with 27 tackles, and both Julian Wilson and Gabe Lynn have two interceptions each. A lack of pressure on the quarterback has resulted in only four sacks.
Stoops knows beating TCU isn't going to be easy.
"They're another good football team. They played a tough early schedule, but again we're very aware of them and what a good football team they are. They always play great defense and they still do. They're playing well so it will be another challenge here this weekend playing TCU here."
As if they needed something else to motivate them, getting this game at home should help the Sooners perform at their peak, and allow them to stay perfect on the year. The Frogs aren't about to go belly up, but OU wins this one just the same.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 34, TCU 23
10/02 10:34:35 ET