Fort Worth, TX (Sports Network) - With hopes of winning the Big 12 Conference
still alive, the 12th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners hit the road for Saturday's
regular-season finale against the TCU Horned Frogs.
Oklahoma's impressive campaign was derailed by two of the top-seven teams in
the nation, as it lost to Kansas State on Sept. 22 (24-19), and Notre Dame on
Oct. 27 (30-13). The Sooners have put themselves in position on the final
weekend of the regular season with four straight wins, but in addition to a
victory over TCU, they need Kansas State to lose at home against Texas to
claim the Big 12 title.
This is the second year in a new-look Big 12 without a conference championship
game, something Sooners' head coach Bob Stoops is still coming to grips with.
"It's tough," Stoops said. "It's difficult and challenging with all the
excellent teams and I think this is the 11th of the last 13 years we've been
in the last weekend with championship implications, so it's always tough; it's
hard to do. This game will be equally tough to go down and give ourselves an
opportunity to win. This is what we've got."
After starting the regular season in the Top-25, TCU has endured a relatively
disappointing season with four losses, which is more setbacks than it had in
the last three regular seasons combined. The Horned Frogs suffered a 23-10
loss at home against Kansas State on Nov. 10, but they were able to bounce
back in their latest game at Texas on Thanksgiving night, winning 20-13.
"To put us on a Thanksgiving game, to be in this place, it's a long way since
I was here when we started 15 years ago," TCU head coach Gary Patterson said.
"We're growing as a football team."
The Sooners lead the all-time series with the Horned Frogs, 7-4. Oklahoma won
the last game between the squads, 35-10, in September of 2008.
Oklahoma's offense has been potent this season, scoring 50 or more points in
back-to-back games and five contests overall, leaving it with very lofty
scoring (41.7 ppg) and yardage (513.6 ypg) numbers that both rank in the top
Senior quarterback Landry Jones is in the midst of the most efficient season
of his illustrious career, as he is completing better than 66 percent of his
passes for 3,745 yards with 27 touchdowns against only nine interceptions.
Jones was especially pass-happy in last week's overtime win over Oklahoma
State, completing 46-of-71 passes (both school records) for 500 yards and
three touchdowns. He is now first in Big 12 history and third in NCAA history
in career passing yards (16,124), and he became the first player in FBS
history to have more than 3,000 passing yards and 26 or more touchdowns in
four straight seasons.
The Sooners made even more history last week as Justin Brown (146 yards),
Jalen Saunders (162 yards) and Kenny Stills (103 yards) each crossed the
century mark receiving -- the first time in school history that has happened.
Stills (73 receptions, 876 yards, 11 TDs) and Brown (62 receptions, 795 yards,
four TDs) are both having outstanding seasons, and Saunders has 46 receptions
for 658 yards in just seven games.
Damien Williams has been the most utilized rusher out of the backfield with
142 carries for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns, and backup quarterback Blake Bell
(182 yards) becomes a big factor in the red zone with 11 rushing scores.
On the season, the Oklahoma defense has played well, allowing 24.8 ypg, but
over the past two weeks it has played very poorly, allowing more than 48
points in both outings.
Javon Harris (five INTs) and Aaron Colvin (four INTs) have been ball-hawks in
the secondary, but as a team the Sooners have just 14 takeaways. Tony
Jefferson has a team-best 105 tackles and has added two picks himself.
TCU's offense has put up 30.5 ppg on just over 400 ypg, but in a high-flying
Big 12, both numbers rank eighth above only Iowa State and Kansas.
Ever since Casey Pachall left the team in September, Trevone Boykin has been
the Horned Frogs' starting quarterback and the results have been mostly mixed,
as he is completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes for 1,622 yards with
14 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Boykin is also a threat with his legs,
racking up 344 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Josh Boyce is TCU's top receiving threat, leading the team in receptions (56),
yards (756) and touchdowns (seven). Brandon Carter has also had a productive
campaign with 33 receptions for 499 yards and five scores.
B.J. Catalon (511 yards) and Matthew Tucker (467 yards) split the work in the
backfield evenly, with each player carrying the ball 105 times. Catalon is
still without a touchdown while Tucker has five, including two in the team's
latest win over Texas.
The defense has been one of the strongest in the conference, allowing just
23.0 ppg. The unit played particularly well against Texas on Thanksgiving,
forcing four turnovers, giving it 30 on the season, tied for 10th most in the
Jason Verrett has accounted for six interceptions and he's knocked down
another 19 passes thrown his direction. Elisha Olabode (four INTs) and Sam
Carter (three INTs) have also been active in the turnover battle. Joel Hasley
has a team-high 68 tackles, and Devonte Fields is one of the best defensive
linemen in the conference with nine sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.
The Sports Network