It’s been just over one year since the TCU Horned Frogs marched into the confines of Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma, only to have their undefeated season and record 16-game win streak crushed with a 49-29 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Now, Gary Patterson’s squad gets its chance to be spoiler, as the No. 11 Cowboys ride into town this weekend for a Saturday morning special. For one, it’s a matter of keeping Big 12 title hopes and an outside chance at the playoffs afloat. For the other, it’s all about getting that bowl-eligibility sixth win and the sweet taste of revenge with one single blow.
The series between Oklahoma State and TCU since the Frogs entered the Big 12 has been nothing short of quirky. That’s mainly because three of the four meetings have been played in Stillwater, with the Cowboys comfortably winning all three contests. The contest was played two years in a row in Stillwater from 2012-2013, and then again in 2015. It was all TCU though in the lone Fort Worth meeting played in October 2014, as the Frogs blew out the Cowboys 42-9 with some incredible play from former Frogs Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson. If the perfect record for the home teams and the series of blowouts in the last four meetings is any indicator, then you have to like the TCU’s chances, not to mention they even enter the contest favored despite being unranked at 5-4. Oklahoma State leads the all-time record between the two 14-10, while the Frogs are 6-4-2 against the Cowboys at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
What a win means for TCU
On the surface-level, this game is simple for the Frogs: win, and they’re going bowling. But if the Frogs prevail, it will also be their second win over a ranked opponent in as many games, and that would be a nice little streak to carry into Austin next Friday when the Frogs battle the Texas Longhorns. There’s also the fact that the Frogs haven’t won in the Carter in more than two months, which is something that you don’t hear too often concerning TCU. Granted, the Frogs have only taken the field in Fort Worth twice since defeating Iowa State on September, but they’d like to send the home crowd home happy again sooner than later. TCU enters the contest as 4.5 point favorites, so that’s a start.
What a win means for Oklahoma State
With only one loss in Big 12 play this season, a road victory for the Cowboys keeps them right in the chase for the conference title. Having already yet to play the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners and having already defeated No. 14 West Virginia, Mike Gundy’s squad controls its own destiny should Oklahoma State win out. As far as the playoff is concerned, the Cowboys would need utter chaos to ensue to have any chance of cracking the top four, but the first step to keep that outside chance alive is by winning their own games. And hey, we’ve already seen a decent amount of chaos in the last week alone, the latest addition being No. 5 Louisville fall to Houston on Thursday night. A lot of things will have to go right for the Cowboys to stun the nation, but regardless, there is a lot to play for in this one for Oklahoma State.
TCU players to watch on offense and defense
Kyle Hicks, RB – With the forecast calling for temperatures in the low 50s at kickoff Saturday morning, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a reduced amount of passing between both teams in this one, so look for Hicks to get a considerable amount of handoffs. It worked pretty well two weeks ago, as Hicks had a career day with 5 touchdowns and 192 rushing yards in TCU’s 62-22 rout of Baylor. His performance in Waco was with a banged up ankle as well, so with an extra week of rest between contests, look for Hicks to be at full throttle this Saturday.
Travin Howard, LB – How good of a season has Howard had? Well, 100 total tackles and an average of 11.1 stops per game this season is not too shabby. In fact, the latter puts him on pace for 133 tackles on the season, which would only trail Paul Dawson’s 2014 total of 136 tackles among all TCU players in the Patterson era. With 12 tackles against Baylor and 19 tackles against Texas Tech last time the Frogs battled it out at home, look for Howard to keep up his record-setting pace this weekend.
Quote to Note: “Hicks has been stellar all season long. We depend on him and hope he can continue to give us the type of performance he has all season. He’s a hard worker and he knows how to make plays.” – TCU WR John Diarse
Reasons for Concern
As many have discussed all week, Oklahoma State’s receivers can be awfully scary, especially considering what they did to the TCU defense last season. The biggest concern of them all is junior James Washington, who caught for three touchdowns against the Frogs in Stillwater last November. Washington will once again be a threat this time around, as his 1,132 receiving yards on the season have made him a Biletnikoff award semifinalist. Junior quarterback Mason Rudolph also deserves credit, rebounding from a 2-2 start to lead the Cowboys on a six-game win streak entering this contest, with an average of 338.4 passing yards per game. Oklahoma State ranks No. 6 nationally in passing offense and No. 9 in passing efficiency, so the Frogs defense will certainly have their hands full.
TCU is favored, even if just by a little. The Frogs are playing their best football of the season, rested and coming off a monumental win in a rivalry game. They have a chip on their shoulder after last year’s contest with the Cowboys. The cold weather will offset the high-flying Oklahoma State offense. The home team has won four straight in this series. Combine all of those together, and I like TCU’s chances in this one. I predict this time around we’ll get the nail-biter game that we all expected to have in 2015, and when it’s all said and done, the Frogs will be sending their fans home happy with their second consecutive win over a ranked opponent.
TCU 38, OSU 31