Posted on November 28, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the 2017 season opened, the expectations were high for TCU, but few expected them to be in the national title conversation. But after taking out then-No. 6 Oklahoma State, folks began to wonder. Three weeks and three wins later, they were the No. 4 team in the nation. Maybe, just maybe the Horned Frogs were CFB Playoff contenders after all.
But then they had to go and lose to Iowa State. While that loss hurt, it only dropped them down to No. 8. With a win over Texas and Oklahoma, they could be right back in the hunt. They got the win over Texas, but the Sooners had their own title aspirations to protect—and they did.
With two losses and games against Texas Tech and Baylor remaining, the Horned Frogs were out of the national championship conversation. The Sooners, on the other hand, were right in the thick of it. After the win over TCU, they moved from into the CFP’s top four (No. 4).
Since all they had left on their schedule was Kansas and West Virginia, the Sooners appeared primed to return to the CFB Playoffs. But there would still be one roadblock in their way—whoever they play for the Big 12 Championship.
As luck would have it, they are playing a team they beat easily who will be without their leading rusher, sophomore Darius Anderson. He was ruled out for the season after leaving early against Oklahoma with a leg injury.
TCU still ran the ball well against Texas Tech (204 total yards), but didn’t run nearly as well against Baylor. But since Kenny Hill threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns, they didn’t need to. But can they run on Oklahoma? If they can, they will have a shot to return the favor and knock Oklahoma out of the CFB Playoffs.
So—who’s going to win?
To beat Oklahoma, TCU will either have to shut down Baker Mayfield or figure out how to keep him off the field. When they played a few weeks ago, Mayfield was 18-27 for 333 yards and three touchdowns long with another 50 yards rushing. Most of it came in the first half as the Sooners got out to a 38-14 lead at the half.
But they can’t just focus on Mayfield. If they do, they’ll risk Rodney Anderson running wild over them like he did the first time (23 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns).
However, just because they didn’t shut the Sooners offense down the first time doesn’t mean they can’t this time. A week after the loss to the Sooners, they shut down the No. 10 passing attack in the country (Texas Tech).
Of course, stopping the No. 10 passing attack doesn’t mean you can stop the best passing game in the country. They may be able to take away the running game with their No. 2 run defense. But can the slow down Baker Mayfield?
TCU’s best chance is to make the most of their fairly balanced offense to keep Mayfield off the field. If they can do that, and finish drives with touchdowns and not field goals, they may just need to stop the Sooners a couple times to win. When a team has the No. 8 scoring defense in the country, it is not hard imagining them stopping any offense a couple of times.
But let’s be real here. Baker Mayfield is a bad man. He is going to rip the TCU defense to shreds once again. Oklahoma is favored by seven. Expect them to win by 14.