Strength of Schedule: TCU

The Horned Frogs surprised the Sooners last year. Can Oklahoma return the favor this season?

For the second year in a row, Sooners Illustrated breaks down Oklahoma’s toughest games for the upcoming season. The rating system is based on the importance of a win, the strength of the opponent and a general idea of how key the game will be in terms of scheduling and performance.

It starts with the easiest game and ends up with the toughest.

11. TCU

Well, the Horned Frogs came out of nowhere last year. Picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 Conference, TCU very nearly made the first-ever College Football Playoff had it not been for a blown pass interference call against Baylor, but that’s neither here nor there. Now, the Horned Frogs are a consensus Top-5 preseason team. That’s a pretty big jump in less than a year – conference afterthought to serious national championship contender.

2014 record: 12-1

Last year vs. OU: 37-33, TCU

Why this game is dangerous: It’s very clear how dangerous TCU can be. The Horned Frogs boast one of the best and most consistent defenses of the past decade, and now, they have an offense to go along with it. The Horned Frogs are especially dangerous this year, because of who is coming back: More than half the defense and everyone but offensive tackle Aviante Collins on offense. TCU, which will start at least nine seniors on offense, should be even better than it was last year. The real reason TCU can run the table is quarterback Trevone Boykin, who gave Oklahoma headaches last season. He’s a Heisman Trophy contender.

Players to watch: Less than a year ago, Boykin was a candidate to switch to receiver, being proclaimed as not skilled enough to be a college quarterback by some. Now, he’s arguably the best player in college football – and probably the most dangerous weapon. All eyes will be on Boykin every game. At Norman will be no different. Although, he might have an extra set of very focused eyes. One season as a full starter has helped Oklahoma linebacker Jordan Evans grow instinctually. A year in the weight room hasn’t hurt either. He’s the one player on Oklahoma’s roster that the Sooners with the athletic ability to freely spy Boykin – like NFL teams did with a young Michael Vick. It would be the right play, because Evans has all the tools to be up for the task.

Prediction: TCU drew first blood on the college football landscape when it knocked of Oklahoma in Fort Worth in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams last season. This year will be back in Norman. The game comes during a three-game stretch when the Sooners will also travel to Oklahoma State and Baylor to end the season. Even at this point in the season, the quarterback derby in Norman still won’t be solved, and Trevor Knight gets the start. He turns in a Sugar Bowl-like performance in what becomes a shootout. Knight breaks the Katy Perry curse with a 41-34 victory in what turns out to be his final home start at Oklahoma.

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