Week 9 – TCU at Oklahoma State

Posted Oct 25, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction – TCU at Oklahoma State

TCU (5-2) at Oklahoma State (4-2) Oct 27, 3:30, FOX Sports Net

Here's The Deal: It's a critical time for both teams that appear to be good enough and strong enough to beat anyone in the conference, but not quite complete enough to be true challengers for the title. Oklahoma State has only lost once in Big 12 play, and TCU has lost twice, but the loser of this game will almost certainly be relegated to also-ran status.

The Cowboys barely lost a controversial game against Texas, but they came back with a too-close win over Kansas and a strong victory over Iowa State, but last week came at a price losing starting quarterback J.W. Walsh for the season to a knee injury. With a month full of big boys ahead - with a road trip to Kansas State next week along with West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma to follow – there's no room for a home slip up. However, the Horned Frogs are playing just well enough to come away with a key victory.

Even at 5-2, getting one more win to get bowl eligible isn't a rock-solid lock for TCU. With road games against West Virginia and Texas along with home dates against Kansas State and Oklahoma, there could be a lot of sweating if the Horned Frogs can't get the job done this week. It's been a rocky few weeks after losing starting quarterback Casey Pachall to off-the-field issues, adding to the rough offseason the program went through before going into the Big 12, but coming off a three-OT loss to Texas Tech, and with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, this might be the conference's biggest X factor.

The two programs haven't met since 1993 – a 27-22 Oklahoma State win – but despite the two schools only being around 250 miles apart, and with the first matchup coming in 1915, they've only played each other 22 times.

Why TCU Might Win: Turnover margin continues to be an issue for the Cowboys, and not because the offense is making a slew of big mistakes. The Cowboys gave up two fumbles last week against Oklahoma, but since the four turnover game against Arizona the offense has lost the ball a not-that-bad five times in the last four games. It's the defense that's the problem with a mere six takeaways on the season, and while two came last week against Iowa State, the defense isn't forcing enough big plays. Turnovers have played a huge role for TCU so far, having gigantic problems holding on to the ball with 17 turnovers including five giveaways against Iowa State and three against Texas Tech – both losses – but the defense has come up with 20 takeaways with 14 interceptions in the six games before last week's defeat. With a young quarterback under center, OSU could have a few problems.

Why Oklahoma State Might Win: Part of the reason OSU isn't giving up the ball on a regular basis is because of an offensive line that continues to play as well as any in the Big 12. The running game is doing what it wants behind the strong front five cranking out 200 yards or more in every game but one, while the pass protection has been rock solid throughout the season. TCU's defensive front won't be flattened by anyone, but the pass rush can be neutralized, like it was against Virginia and Iowa State. Texas Tech showed last week that a great offense could move the ball on the Horned Frog back seven, and OSU should be able to throw well, but …

What To Watch Out For: Wes Lunt has to stay healthy. The Oklahoma State freshman got the call to start the season, and while he threw three picks in the loss to Arizona, he also bombed away for 436 yards and four scores. He got knocked out of the Louisiana-Lafayette game with a knee injury, and now he's back and the offense is his with Walsh done for the season. Meanwhile, sophomore Trevone Boykin has thrown four touchdown passes in each of the last two games for the Horned Frogs, but he has also pitched five picks in two games. These appear to be two of the best young stars in the Big 12, and this could be the first showdown in a series over the next few years.

What Will Happen: Where will the turnover margin go? If TCU is ahead and if Boykin can go without screwing up too much, the offense will be able to keep up the pace set by the balanced OSU offense. TCU will get just a little more defense when needed in yet another Big 12 thriller.

CFN Prediction: TCU 34 … Oklahoma State 31
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Oklahoma State -7.5 O/U: 63
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 3.5