When it comes to Big 12 opponents, TCU’s gotten everything done within just a few tries under the Gary Patterson era.
Win against major powers like Texas and Oklahoma at home and away? Done. Get a Big 12 championship? Roger that.
Beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater for the first time since 1991?
… well, maybe the third time will be the charm.
After struggling in 2012 and 2013, Trevone Boykin finally has a chance to redeem himself in Boone Pickens Stadium and get that elusive road win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The timing is impeccable, as TCU and OSU find each other undefeated, ranked in the top 15 in every single poll/ranking in the nation and playing in a game that will give a major tilt to the Big 12 title chase.
With a stout defensive line and an offensive with explosive capabilities, there’s good reason why the Pokes are the first of TCU’s three major games in the month of November.
THE OKLAHOMA STATE OFFENSE
Quite frankly, Oklahoma State will be the best offense TCU will have faced all season.
The Cowboys are fresh off of hanging 70 points on Texas Tech, the most amount of points the Red Raiders have ever given up to a visiting opponent. Additionally, the Pokes are ranked 15th nationally in total offense and 8th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 502 yards and 44 points a game.
That success has largely been driven by the improvement of quarterback Mason Rudolph, the sophomore who’s thrown for 2,482 yards and 12 touchdowns. Statistically, he’s in the top 20 in just about every major passing category, including yards and completions per game, which makes him a solid threat against TCU’s secondary.
He’s been able to hook up with OSU’s receivers for several big gains, particularly James Washington. With 588 yards receiving and four touchdowns (including a 73-yard score), Washington has been the leader of the Pokes explosive plays, contributing 10 receptions of 20 or more yards.
The ability to get big yardage is something natural for Oklahoma State. There have been 55 plays by the Cowboys this season of plays with 20 or more yards gained, good enough for eighth in the nation in that regard. Coupled with the fact that backup QB J.W. Walsh can destroy with the run game, the Pokes have several ways of getting substantial gains.
Walsh, the senior who was benched in favor of Clint Chelf midway through the 2013 TCU game in Stillwater, leads the team with seven rushing touchdowns. His snaps at quarterback traditionally indicate a running style set, but that’s not always the case. Walsh has added 296 yards passing, as well as nine touchdowns through the air for OSU this season, with 167 of those yards coming against Texas Tech last week. Expect his involvement to be mostly as a check against TCU’s defense to prevent them from getting too comfortable in Rudolph’s pass-friendly attack.
Conversely, the Oklahoma State defense will have its hands full with TCU’s pass-friendly attack, which will seek to take advantage of banged up personnel while avoiding an imposing defensive line.
THE OKLAHOMA STATE DEFENSE
Just like the Cowboys offense is going to be the best offense TCU has seen this season, the Oklahoma State defensive line is going to be the best the Frogs have faced this year.
The Pokes are nothing to be trifled with, ranking as the best rushing defense in the Big 12 (allowing 138.5 yards per game), the second best scoring defense in the conference (allowing 23 points per game) and the second-best total defense in the league (allowing 357 yards per game).
A huge part of that is junior end Emmanuel Ogbah, a preseason All-Big 12 selection who will definitely see time in the NFL after his college career. The man who should be on the Lombardi semi-finalist list but tragically isn’t has nine of Oklahoma State’s 29 sacks on the year (against good for 2nd place in the Big 12) and has 13.5 tackles for loss. His 41 tackles are among the Cowboys’ best, and his constant threat will be a big deal for a TCU offensive line that has Halapoulivaati Vaitai banged up.
In what might even out the scales somewhat, the stud opposite of Ogbah, the exceptionally named Jimmy Bean, is questionable against TCU this week, after being helped off the field twice against Texas Tech. His status is going to be a major ordeal, as he’s provided 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss for the Pokes.
Already set back with last month’s loss of linebacker Ryan Simmons, the senior and defensive team captain, Oklahoma State will have to rely on a strong performance from Ogbah, as well as their secondary. The Cowboys DBs feature lockdown corner Kevin Peterson (22 tackles, 1 interception) and Jordan Sterns, who leads the team in tackles (64).
Although the Cowboys have several capable players, there is one chink in the proverbial armor of the Oklahoma State defense.
On the year, Oklahoma State has a middling red zone defense, ranked 55th in the nation. Out of 23 red zone opportunities, the Pokes have given up 15 touchdowns and four field goals.
If the Frogs can get around the mean defensive line, there’s hope for a lot of scoring.
TCU’s secondary needed some early luck against West Virginia last week, as the defense rallied on key dropped passes from the Mountaineers. The miscues of the WVU offense prevented the Frogs from falling behind quickly as slow starts against Kansas State and Iowa State showed.
The Horned Frogs clearly can’t afford that type of delayed performance against a team that’s so capable of getting big plays, and the defensive talents of the Pokes are going to keep Doug Meacham’s Flying Air Raid Circus™ somewhat in check. This game should be another unnecessary nail biter, but with the injuries to Oklahoma State’s defense and weakness in the red zone, TCU should rally in the fourth quarter to get another win.
PREDICTION: TCU 49, OSU 45