Oklahoma Sooners fans won't easily forget the 2005 loss to TCU at home. It makes for extra motivation for Week 14, when the Sooners will travel to Fort Worth to take on the Horned Frogs, BCS dreams still alive.
Led by QB Landry Jones' 3,745 yards and 27 touchdowns, the No. 11 Sooners (9-2, 7-1) can get to the BCS promised land with a win and some help at the bottom of the rankings. No. 17 Kent State and No. 21 Northern Illinois can oust OU by finishing in the Top 16, but all the Sooners can do is take care of business against an old foe.
TCU (7-4, 4-4) has had an up-and-down season during its first go back in what used to be the Southwest Conference, but wins over Baylor, West Virginia and Texas on Thanksgiving Day have to give the program a proud moment for the transition at the completion of year one.
Facing Oklahoma for the third time in seven years, the Horned Frogs hope this one turns out like it did in 2005—and not 2008, when Sam Bradford led them against TCU to settle the score.
Now conference rivals yet again and playing for the first time of what figures to be many contests in the near future, these two teams will battle it out for bowl positioning and bragging rights for the next year. We've got you covered with everything you need to know heading into this near-final matchup of the Big 12 in Week 14.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1 at Noon ET
Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium; Fort Worth, Tex.
Watch: ESPN, WatchESPN
Betting Line: Oklahoma -6.5 (according to Vegas Insider)
Injury Report via USA Today (as of 11/27/12)
RB Brennan Clay — Questionable (Leg)
DE David King —Questionable (Ankle) —According to Jason Kersey, the senior defensive lineman is still unsure of his status for Saturday.
No new injuries to report at this time.
BCS/Top 25 Implications
This game has the potential to decide the BCS fate of Oklahoma. With a win, OU is still alive in the Sugar Bowl hunt and will have to be fans of other schools (Northern Illinois) that can keep non-automatic qualifiers out of the BCS picture.
With a loss, the hope for a BCS game is over for Oklahoma. For TCU, this is a statement game announcing its arrival back to the Big 12. They can cement their status as a top program yet again, and voters don't have the excuse of a weaker conference to fall back on when looking at the eight wins the Horned Frogs have accrued.
What They're Saying
ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben notes that this is the marquee matchup on the Big 12 docket this week, namely because Kansas State has been a national bore since losing to Baylor. With so much at stake, this could turn out to be one of the best games of the weekend?
If Oklahoma wins, it could turn a national title season into a forgettable finish for K-State later in the evening. Oklahoma memorably lost to TCU at home back in 2005, but makes its first trip to Fort Worth this week to close the regular season. The Frogs, meanwhile, close their regular season with games against the Big 12's two biggest brands: Texas and Oklahoma. That's got to be fun for them. Big 12 dreams coming true. Winning makes it a lot more fun, too. Can TCU make it 2-for-2?
Fox Sports' Alex Apple saw much of the same, as did TCU head coach Gary Patterson. The Frogs found a way to knock off Texas last week. If they can do the same against Oklahoma, are we ready to proclaim TCU in the national elite?
Patterson knows how important this game is for his team's moral and for the program as a whole. It means a lot for OU because of the BCS title hopes, but Oklahoma is expected to beat teams like TCU. A season in which TCU knocked off the two most storied programs in the conference would be one for the record books.
As Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News notes, the Frogs are losing only one starter on defense for 2013. A big win against the Sooners would give the other 10 guys plenty of motivation to be this conference's best defense next year.
TCU goes to seven wins and gets Oklahoma at home to close the season. For a team with just one senior starter on defense, this is big.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) November 23, 2012
Oklahoma Player to Watch: QB Blake Bell
Statistically speaking, Jones is the best QB to ever come through Oklahoma. He's engineered drives and led his team to be one of the best offenses in the country during his time in Norman.
But the two-headed attack features Bell quite regularly in short yardage situations or down near the goal line, as Oklahoma State found out on Saturday. He's known as the "Belldozer" to OU fans, and his package has been quite successful—11 touchdowns to lead the team.
Still, Patterson prepares TCU as well as any coach in the country could. Oklahoma has shown just three-to-four plays out of Bell's formations, and TCU has to force Oklahoma to second-guess that approach. If not, Bell will add more TDs to his already impressive total and will likely keep OU out in front.
TCU Player(s) to Watch: Three-Headed Monster at RB
B.J. Catalon, Matthew Tucker and surprising starter Trevone Boykin can all run the ball, and TCU runs it well. The two RBs have over 1,300 yards between them and have a good chance to get more against one of the league's more spotty run defenses.
Which player will TCU lean on the most? It's been a secret for Patterson in most of the games, and one of the three guys usually steps up late. That's a preparation nightmare for OU, who struggled against top-running teams like Kansas State and Notre Dame and even allowed Baylor to get loose on the ground.
Those three guys being bottled up would mean bad things for TCU. If just one gets going, though, it's a dangerous matchup for Oklahoma to stop.
Key Matchup: OU's Fast Tempo Offense vs. TCU Defense
OU averages over 40 points per game and is in the top of the rankings in passing yards. They do so with Jones' arm but also with an offense that snaps the ball very quickly after first downs. OU likes to get up and push the tempo, catching the defense off guard and finding quick slot receivers when the linebackers are calling out the defense.
TCU must find a way to slow down that attack, whether it's stopping the running game early or getting off the field on the third down. If they don't, OU could easily put up 50 points. If OU gets to 35, I believe they win this one.
Patterson can't find the magic of 2005, as the BCS bowl game on the horizon gets the best of the Horned Frogs. Jones has a big day, and the defense plays well against the run on the road for OU. TCU has impressed a lot of people but won't do enough to get that eighth win.
Oklahoma 35, TCU 23
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team and the Dallas Mavericks page on the site.