Week 6 - TCU at Oklahoma

Posted Oct 2, 2013

Week 6 Fearless Predictions & Game Preview - TCU at Oklahoma

TCU (2-2) at Oklahoma (4-0) Oct. 5 7:00, FOX

Why You Should Give A Hoot: So which is it? Is Oklahoma probably the best of a mediocre lot of Big 12 teams, or is it growing into a real, live sleeper of a national title contender with the talent and skill to find a way to make it to Pasadena simply by being that good? It's possible it's a little bit of both.

There's still a wait-and-see attitude, mostly because the Sooners are sneaking up on everyone. Oklahoma State was the fashionable preseason pick to win the Big 12, and the Texas meltdown, Kansas State loss to North Dakota State and Baylor offensive numbers, Captain Pretty Boy Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech – along with all the hubbub at Oklahoma State – have occupied most of the Big 12 conversation so far.

The Sooner quarterback situation got a little bit of play, but not too much after Trevor Knight was initially named the starter, and then very quietly, and very effectively, OU has rolled to four straight wins including an easier-than-the-score 16-7 victory over West Virginia and a tougher-than-the-score 35-21 win over Notre Dame last week. With Texas coming up next week, a good win over TCU would set the stage to really and truly make a big splash.

TCU has had a disappointing and rocky start, losing to a national title-good LSU team to start the season and struggling against Texas Tech to kick off the Big 12 season. The offense hasn't been able to find a consistent groove, while the defense hasn't been up to its normally high standard, but a win over Oklahoma would change the campaign around in a hurry.

Why TCU Might Win: Zero. That's how many sacks the Notre Dame pass rush came up with last week in the loss to the Sooners, but there hasn't been much coming from the Irish line all year. TCU is a different story, generating seven sacks from all sides last week against SMU, even with Devonte Fields out with a foot injury. Sooner quarterback Blake Bell is mobile in the pocket and can shake off the pass rush with his size, but he still needs to be pressured. The OU offense has several different ways to move the ball, but it's at its best when the downfield plays are allowed to develop.

On the other side of the ball, OU's defense is strong, but it hasn't faced anyone who can run the ball with any consistency. Notre Dame got an 80-yard home run from George Atkinson, but that was about it. The TCU running game might not be consistent, but it has the running backs and the ability to crank out at least four yards a carry and come up with manageable second and third down opportunities. However, if it's third-and long …

Why Oklahoma Might Win: TCU's offense won't go anywhere. The Sooner defense has been fantastic at getting off the field, allowing opponents to convert just 29% of the time on third downs. The defensive back seven has been phenomenal at keeping the big plays to a minimum, and it's not going to get burned deep by a TCU passing game that doesn't push the big play. Until Trevone Boykin can start stretching the field for a passing game that averaged a paltry 11.43 yards per completion, OU can cheat up to stop the run.

With Bell under center, the OU offense has found its stride. The passing game exploded against Tulsa and was effective against Notre Dame, and most importantly for a team with a terrific defense, there haven't been any picks over the last two games from Bell. Taking a sack isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world for the Sooners.

Who To Watch Out For: Linebacker was considered a relative weakness for the Sooners coming into the season, but it's quickly turning into a major plus thanks to a slew of good athletes. 6-1, 230-pound sophomore Frank Shannon is a former safety prospect who's now a prototype guided missile with outstanding range and a world of talent. A spot starter as a freshman, now he's the team's leading tackler making 27 stops so far with ten against Tulsa and eight more against Notre Dame to go along with a big pick.

- So where's the pressure in the backfield coming from on the TCU defense? Everywhere. Linebacker Marcus Mallet, defensive tackle Jon Lewis and defensive backs Sam Carter and Derrick Kindred are all getting into the act. TCU isn't afraid to come up with multiple looks and designs to be disruptive.

- For all the good things TCU has done – and it's certainly been competitive since moving over to the Big 12 – it's just 4-8 in its last 12 games against FBS teams.

- The two schools are just 185 miles and just under three hours apart, yet they've only met 12 times with the Sooners holding an 8-4 lead, starting with a 34-19 victory in 1944. As Big 12 brothers, OU won the initial matchup last year 24-17.

What Will Happen: TCU's aggressive defensive front will bother Bell, but the Oklahoma offensive balance, along with a strong day from the secondary, will keep the Horned Frogs playing catch-up all game long.

Prediction: Oklahoma 31 ... TCU 17
Line: Oklahoma -10.5 o/u: 46.5
Must See Rating: (5 5 shut down this week due to lack of government funding – 1 Rachel vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off) … 3
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