No. 11 Oklahoma (9-1, 7-1) is still alive in both the Big 12 Championship race and the race for a BCS bowl bid. Before it can get there, TCU (7-4, 4-4) will be standing in the way of accomplishing that feat.
The last two times these teams have met out of conference, the results have been dynamic. TCU knocked off OU in 2005 in one of the biggest upsets in school history, while OU returned the favor in 2008 behind Sam Bradford.
Now, as members of the former Southwest-turned-Big 12 conference yet again, TCU will renew its rivalry with the Sooners for the foreseeable future. Led by QB Landry Jones, the Sooners have one of the most dynamic offenses in the nation, and also employ QB Blake Bell in short-yardage packages to make their attack even harder to stop.
TCU has 10 underclassmen starting on defense, and will look to find a way to get to eight wins and beat both Texas and OU in its first year in the Big 12. We've got you covered with spread information, keys to victory and a prediction for this rivalry renewed.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1 at Noon ET
Where: Amon Carter Stadium; Fort Worth, Texas
Watch: ESPN, WatchESPN (live stream)
Spread: Oklahoma -6.5 (according to Vegas Insider)
Oklahoma would be a heavy favorite in this game if not for shootout wins over lesser opponents. West Virginia and Oklahoma State have taken OU to the wire the past two weeks, putting up huge numbers against a defense that has been quite porous.
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Baylor also put up big numbers against the Sooners, while keeping the game relatively close. The odds makers took this one close enough to the breaking point to keep this from being an attractive underdog pick, yet also still not making OU a lock to win. This is a tough play this weekend.
Over/Under: 60.5 (according to Vegas Insider)
Looking at the games for the two teams over the past few weeks, this is a pretty safe bet to go over the total. OU is fifth in the nation in passing yards per game and seventh in points scored, and can generally move up and down the field at will.
TCU is no slouch, and a running game that features three dangerous backs will give OU problems all day. This total could approach 100, and I wouldn't be surprised—that's just the kind of offenses you deal with on a weekly basis in the Big 12.
Injury Report via USA Today (as of 11/28/12)
RB Brennan Clay—Probable (Leg)
DE David King—Questionable (Ankle)
DT David Johnson—OUT indefinitely (Undisclosed)
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Oklahoma does not control its own destiny this weekend. With a win and a Kansas State win, there's a partial split of the Big 12 title and a place in the Sugar Bowl up for grabs.
A win and a Kansas State loss would mean Oklahoma would be headed to the Fiesta Bowl, while a loss of any kind would put OU as the top contender for the Big 12 bid to the Cotton Bowl.
TCU is looking at several options bowl wise, and could likely jump back into the BCS Top 25 with a win. However, this weekend is all about Oklahoma from a BCS standpoint, as it is the conference's best chance to send two teams big boy bowling.
Keys to Oklahoma Win
Oklahoma can't have an early letdown in the form of turnovers and giving up big plays. West Virginia almost used that formula to run Oklahoma out of town, and if not for a missed field goal, we'd be singing a different tune about the Sooners.
With TCU very well coached, athletic on the outside and solid up the middle, Oklahoma has to be disciplined on defense and not allow quarterback Trevone Boykin to carve up a run defense that allowed WR Tavon Austin to run for nearly 300 yards just two weeks ago.
On offense, turnovers are always the Achilles heel of this team, and Landry Jones must avoid the catastrophic mistake to keep his defense on the sideline and resting up for what could turn out to be a shootout.
Keys to TCU Win
TCU needs the ball to bounce its way a couple times and be bold in the play-calling game. Gary Patterson is a good coach who isn't afraid to take a chance—just look at the move to the Big 12.
Teams have exploited OU in both the secondary and the second level. The strength of this OU defense is its defensive line; the linebackers and secondary haven't been nearly as effective in shutting down opponents from getting exactly what they want.
If TCU can get some early stops and force a few Jones mistakes, they'll be in a good position to win. Oklahoma hasn't been the best at engineering comebacks down the stretch, as evidenced by the two losses to Notre Dame and Kansas State.
The Frogs are a good football team and will do what they do best—stick to the game plan and allow their athletes to put the team in a position to win.
Oklahoma survives one more time, but it might not matter depending on what Kansas State does later in the day. It's extremely hard to beat both Texas and OU in one season in the Big 12—something Kansas State is also trying to accomplish this weekend—and I think the Frogs are a season or two away from that feat. OU finds a way, yet again.
Oklahoma 44, TCU 35
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.