Texas Christian at Oklahoma

Sports Xchange

November 08, 2017 at 3:17 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
SITE: Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Okla.
TV: FOX
SERIES: Oklahoma leads 11-5, but the series is tied 4-4 in Norman. The Sooners won last year’s meeting 52-46.
RANKINGS: Oklahoma No. 5; TCU No. 6

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Horned Frogs

–QB Kenny Hill didn’t have to do a lot against Texas but he managed the offense well, passing for 146 yards without an interception or a touchdown. He has four games of at least four TD passes in his TCU career. Hill’s 15 touchdown passes nearly equal his total (17) from last season.

–RB Kyle Hicks helped the TCU rushing attack with 41 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and caught one pass for 5 yards versus Texas. Hicks amassed nearly 1,500 total yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a junior last season. He led TCU in rushing with 1,042 yards and was the team’s top receiver with 47 catches, a first for a TCU running back since Basil Mitchell in 1996.

–DE Ben Banogu has been absolutely dominant so far this season with 35 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and six quarterback hurries. He has a tackle for loss in each game this season. The Louisiana-Monroe transfer is making a name for himself as the next great TCU defensive end.

Sooners

–MLB Kenneth Murray is third on the team with 48 tackles in his first season.

–RB Rodney Anderson has 439 yards and 64 carries in Oklahoma’s last three games, with at least 111 yards in each game.

–DE/LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo had two sacks on TCU’s final possession a year ago to help seal the Sooners’ win.

–QB Baker Mayfield can tie a Big 12 record with a touchdown pass Saturday. Mayfield has thrown for a score in 35 consecutive games dating back to the start of his OU career. Only Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell has thrown a touchdown pass in more games consecutively than Mayfield. Harrell threw for touchdowns in 36 consecutive games from 2006-08.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

TCU coach Gary Patterson and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield have made nice this week.

Patterson spoke glowingly about his respect for Mayfield’s game and the fire with which he plays it.

Mayfield talked about his admiration for the high level that has come to be expected from Patterson’s defense every season.

Saturday, when the No. 5 Sooners and No. 6 Horned Frogs meet in Norman, Mayfield and Patterson will be at the center.

Mayfield has turned from a Heisman Trophy contender into the clear favorite after throwing for 598 yards and five touchdowns a week ago in a win over Oklahoma State.

“With Baker, I’ve always liked and admired the way he competes,” Patterson told reporters. “Baker’s really done a great job, been really mature in the way he’s handled things If you love competitors, you’ve got to admire what he’s been able to do.”

Patterson once again has his team playing some of the best defense in the country in a league known for just about anything but defense.

“Obviously he’s very talented and very good at what he does,” Mayfield said of Patterson.

“There’s no doubt that he’s one of the best defensive minds in the game. There’s a reason he’s had so much success and it’s not like they’ve just been an average program. We’ve won a lot of Big 12 titles but Coach Patterson has had that defense ready to play us every year. They’re a very successful program and he always has guys that are ready to play for him and do their job at a high level.”

That was a change from two years ago, when Mayfield — as his Sooners were preparing to play in the College Football Playoff — spoke of his displeasure about the way his recruitment went down as it related to Patterson and the Horned Frogs.

Patterson, as his team prepared for a bowl of its own, fired back with harsh words, not only for Mayfield but for Mayfield’s father, whom Patterson called “arrogant.”

That back-and-forth happened after Patterson accused Mayfield of stealing signals from his team during the 2014 game against the Sooners. That was the season Mayfield had to sit out after his transfer from Texas Tech, and TCU was breaking in co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie after Cumbie had moved from Tech as well.

But all of that is long in the rearview mirror with Saturday’s game having a potential CFP berth on the line.

“Obviously one of the best football teams in the country right now,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said of the Horned Frogs. “I think, in my opinion, probably the most complete team we’ve played to this point. They’re really tremendous.”

TCU’s clear strength is its defense.

The Horned Frogs are first nationally in rushing defense, allowing less than 70 yards per game. While Mayfield is the engine that keeps the offense going, the Sooners’ ability to run the ball effectively has been important as well, especially recently.

Oklahoma has run for 200 or more yards just three times this season, but two of those have come in the last three games. Rodney Anderson has rushed for 439 yards over the last three games.

But the Horned Frogs are allowing just 6.8 points and 188.0 yards over the last four games.

“They’re unique,” Riley said. “You don’t play a lot of people like them. I don’t know if I’d compare it to playing the wishbone, (but) you just don’t see something like them every week, so that makes it a little more difficult to prepare for.”

After a rough year last season, going 6-7 for their first losing season since 2013, the Horned Frogs are back as a factor both in the Big 12 and nationally.

But Patterson is trying to keep his team focused on the road ahead rather than where they’ve come.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Patterson said.

It might not be the first time the Horned Frogs and Sooners meet this season, either.

The winner will be alone in first place in the Big 12 with two games to play. The loser will still be in solid position to make the Big 12 title game.

“We’ll worry about it when we get there,” Riley said. “It’ll take all we got to play well and give ourselves a chance to beat these guys. So we’ll throw everything we can at ’em. I’m sure Coach Patterson would probably tell you the same thing.”

 

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