coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/29/2013 11:36 AM in NCAA Football

TCU Horned Frogs at Oklahoma Sooners: Preview and Pick

TCU Horned Frogs at Oklahoma Sooners: Preview and Pick

If the TCU Horned Frogs want to make any noise in the very crowded and competitive Big 12 they will have to pull off an amazing game this week. The Horned Frogs travel to Norman Oklahoma to take on the undefeated Sooners who are still basking in their impressive win against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

TCU Horned Frogs at Oklahoma Sooners Odds

The college football odds for this game opened up with the Sooners listed as (-10) point favorites. Since the line was released the betting action has been even across the board. The line can be found as high as (-10.5) at several of the online sportsbooks.
The Sooners made it clear that they are for real this year in stomping Notre Dame. The Sooners hit the Irish hard and early and often. Eric Striker lived up to his name, popping Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees three plays into the game and creating an easy interception touchdown for fellow linebacker Corey Nelson. One play later, Aaron Colvin popped Notre Dame receiver TJ Jones, setting up Franklin Shannon's interception. Now they have to avoid letdown against the Horned Frogs.

TCU did look good, at least in the second half, in their big win over the SMU Mustangs. Trevone Boykin overcame a slow start and threw two second-half touchdowns en route to a 15-for-26, 228-yard showing. Bonus: a turnover-free game, which is sensational given that the first three quarters were played in a one-possession margin one way or the other. TCU's finish was impressive, but with the Horned Frogs' record only rising to 2-2 the prospect of a Top 25 ranking is still a ways away. If they want to get recognized by the national college football audience, they have to pull off a big upset and this could be it.

The latest college football betting trends for this game reveal some wagering angles on both the side and the total. The Sooners are a very dominant team at home where they have won 21 of the last 25 games straight up, however it should be noted that they are just 2-5 against the spread (ATS) in the last seven games at home. The Horned Frogs are also impressive in road games winning 21 of the last 25 games straight up but they have struggled to start the season and are now just 2-4 straight up in the last six games overall.

TCU Horned Frogs at Oklahoma Sooners Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/30/2013 02:24 PM

On the second play of the fourth quarter in Oklahoma's 35-21 win at Notre Dame on Saturday night, Fighting Irish tight end Troy Niklas caught a Tommy Rees pass with no Sooners defenders anywhere close and Niklas cruised in for a 30-yard touchdown.

After the play, Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was upset with defensive back Quentin Hayes. OU head coach Bob Stoops soon joined his brother's “conversation” with Hayes.

It wasn't the first time the Sooners had coverage issues in the second half.

“That goes back to the way they were running the ball,” Mike Stoops said. “It got us out of whack. I had a feeling that was coming. Our position wasn't what it needed to be and structurally that's my fault. We just have to come up with a little more variety, which we are learning through this process as we go along.”

After Niklas' score, though, Notre Dame couldn't move the ball. Rees completed a 9-yard pass on the first play of the next drive, then the Fighting Irish were stopped for a 2-yard loss on a run and Rees missed on his last seven pass attempts to end the game.


At the top of the tunnel after the win, Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard found Sooners assistant offensive line coach — and former teammate — Jon Cooper and picked Cooper up in an embrace.

“Me and him get a little fired up when we're together,” Ikard said. “He's been a great mentor for me and Ty (Darlington) both, teaching us technique at center and teaching us to see things on the field.”

Ikard gave Cooper and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh credit for different blocking schemes this week, helping the Sooners run for more than 200 yards after rushing for just 15 a year ago against the Irish.

“Using things he's taught me, I've become a lot better player,” Ikard said.


With Notre Dame's offense, the Sooners used four linebackers, more than they have early in the season, opening opportunities for freshman Dominique Alexander.

Alexander saw extensive playing time and finished with four tackles, the second-most for the linebackers.

“He learned a couple of tough lessons today,” linebackers coach Tim Kish said. “He has some growing up to do, but I thought he played his heart out. We've just got to keep getting him better down the road.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/30/2013 02:28 PM

The Horned Frogs offense finally came alive late in the third quarter of a 48-17 win against SMU. And it came alive via plays from some new faces. True freshman Ty Slanina hauled in a 20-yard touchdown with four minutes left in the third quarter to break a 10-10 tie. On TCU’s next possession, former Florida transfer Ja'Juan Story took a 56-yard pass to the house to ignite the rout. Then freshman Cameron Echols-Luper returned a punt 51 yards to set up another touchdown. Going into the SMU game, Slanina, Story and Echols-Luper had a combined five touches through three games. The trio, however, figures to be a big part of the Horned Frogs' attack going forward, including this weekend in Norman.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/01/2013 03:22 PM

Realizing his team had an issue with red-zone and third-down offense, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and his staff devised a special set of plays to take advantage of their backup quarterback's unique skill set two years ago.

The result was incredible efficiency in short-yardage situations and important game experience for Blake Bell, who now displays calm and poise as the Sooners' starting quarterback.

When Bell was cramping up in the third quarter of Saturday's win at Notre Dame, speedy redshirt freshman Trevor Knight entered the game and immediately provided a spark, picking up 30 yards on an option keeper.

Having seen the change of pace Knight provided in relief duty, might coaches call Bell to the sideline on occasion this season and crank their offense up to the speed of Knight?

“Yeah, it's not a bad idea if you think about it,” Stoops said during his Monday news conference. “Blake gets a few series off and is not cramping maybe early in the third quarter.”

The Sooners (4-0 overall, 1-0 Big 12) host TCU at 6 p.m. Saturday in a game many expected Knight would start earlier this season.

Knight bested Bell in their preseason quarterback competition after wowing coaches with his impressive athleticism and playmaking ability. Knight showed flashes of that potential as the starter in Oklahoma's first two games, but struggled to consistently pass well enough to run the full Sooner offense.

Bell started the Sooners' 51-20 win over Tulsa two weeks ago and set a school record for passing yards in a first career start, then played well again in the Notre Dame victory, allowing the junior to take firm hold of the job.

A few days before naming Knight the starter, Stoops repeated a quote from comedy classic “Dumb and Dumber” when asked if he would consider playing two quarterbacks.

“Never say never and there's always a chance,” Stoops said. “Even what's his name in Dumb and Dumber, he had a chance. It was one in a million, but he did have a chance.”

The odds of Stoops using two quarterbacks seem better than one in a million, though, especially considering his recent history.

With Landry Jones — the most prolific passer in OU program history — on the roster, Stoops frequently dialed up plays from the “Belldozer” package, allowing Bell to enter games in short-yardage situations, take a shotgun snap and plow ahead for first downs and touchdowns.

Bell scored 24 touchdowns over two seasons as Jones' backup, and many of those scores came in huge moments, including the game-tying touchdowns in the fourth quarter of games against Notre Dame and Oklahoma State last season.

“I think being out there last year in some big situations — Notre Dame and Okie State and stuff like that — you feel a little bit of a presence back there,” Bell said. “Obviously, I'm not dropping back and throwing last year. Still, being in those big-game situations, it helps out a little bit.”

As recent history has shown, situational quarterbacking won't grant Knight any advantage in future position battles after Bell's eligibility expires.

Sophomore Kendal Thompson was part of the preseason quarterback derby before a foot injury derailed his chances. True freshman Cody Thomas is on campus redshirting, and Edmond Santa Fe's Justice Hansen is committed for the class of 2014.

But if Knight does regain the Sooners' starting quarterback job at some point, any game experience he gets between now and then should help to some degree.

“I think absolutely being in pressure situations, critical junctions in the game, absolutely helped him out,” co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said of Bell after Saturday's game. “But still you don't know how it's going to be when you are the starter.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/02/2013 02:02 PM

On the heels of a monumental victory over Notre Dame, in South Bend, the Sooners return to conference play this Saturday evening when they host TCU. Oklahoma is 8-4 all-time against the Horned Frogs with the most recent loss coming at the onset of the 2005 season.

TCU has been plagued by injuries this season but, despite a 2-2 record, they're still an extremely dangerous team as evidenced by their 31 fourth quarter points they scored on SMU last Saturday. The Frogs dropped the season opener against LSU and then fell short in their conference opener at Texas Tech. Their two wins on the season came against SE Louisiana and SMU.

Offensively they are scoring an average of 30.8 points per game which ranks them 7th in the Big Twelve and 66th nationally. On the ground, B.J. Catalon leads the rushing attack with a team high 214 yards and 5.8 yards per carry average on 37 carries. The TCU rushing attack grinds out 149.3 yards per game which is 8th in the Big Twelve and 82nd nationally.

"This focus this week has to be 10 times better than it was last week. We have to be even more focused than were against Notre Dame because we cannot let TCU come in here and beat us. We have to continue with the intensity, we have to continue to be humble and hungry and everything we are doing. So the focus this week has to be at an all-time high because we have to win this game and not have a letdown." - Linebacker Corey Nelson

Quarterback Trevone Boykin had his best game of the season last week against SMU with 228 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Even at that, TCU ranks 9th in the conference and 94th nationally with an average of 200 passing yards per game. Brandon Carter has been a favorite target this season. The one time Sooner commit has a team high 13 receptions for 156 yards and is averaging 12 yards per catch.

The TCU offensive line has allowed five quarterback sacks in 2013 and are helping the team to a 4.1 yards per carry rushing average.

On paper you'd have to think that this match-up favors the Oklahoma defense. The Sooners are 2nd in the Big Twelve and 6th nationally in scoring defense at an average of 12 points allowed per game. OU is the top passing defense in the Big Twelve at an average 169 yards allowed per game. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 48.6 percent of their passes against the Sooners and have thrown a combined six interceptions to two touchdowns.

Swapping sides of the ball, TCU has the Big Twelve's 8th best scoring defense (50th nationally) and are 8th in the conference against the pass (238 yards per game) and 3rd against the rush (115.8 yards per game).

"It is really important. Every week is important. We do not want to lose so we have to be focused and get back on our grind. Even if we win, whomever we beat, we need to keep trying until we get to the championship." -Offensive Lineman Daryl Williams

Safeties Chris Hackett and Elisha Olabode lead the team in total tackles at 24 each. Olabode did not play last week due to an injury and his status for this game is uncertain as well. Sophomore defensive end Devonte Fields is also questionable for Saturday's game as well.

Regardless of the personnel, this TCU defense will present a stiff challenge to Oklahoma's rushing attack and will bring a secondary that specializes in forcing turnovers. The Frogs have nabbed a conference high nine interceptions against opponents this season and will be looking to force Blake Bell into throwing his first pick of the season on Saturday.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/02/2013 02:03 PM

Newly-formed Big 12 Conference rivals collide on Saturday evening, as the TCU Horned Frogs challenge the 11th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

TCU is in just its second year as a member of the Big 12, and the Frogs closed out the 2012 conference slate at home against these same Sooners, losing by a final score of 24-17. As a result, Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 8-4.

TCU began this season among the nationally ranked, but a 37-27 setback to No. 12 LSU in the opener got things started on the wrong foot. A 38-17 win over FCS foe Southeastern Louisiana was their first win, but the league lid lifter against Texas Tech resulted in a 20-10 loss, leaving the Frogs with a 1-2 record heading into last week's non-conference clash with SMU. A 48-17 shellacking of the Mustangs evened the team's record, but with only Big 12 games left it's anyone's guess as to how well coach Gary Patterson's squad is going to fare.

Oklahoma is undefeated after four games, taking out the likes of ULM, West Virginia, Tulsa and No. 22 Notre Dame, scoring 34 or more points three times along the way. Last week's win ended a seven-game losing streak to the Fighting Irish and was just the second in 11 meetings for the Sooners against UND. OU, under the direction of Bob Stoops, will play its next two games outside of Norman, next returning home to tangle with Texas Tech on Oct. 26.

The Horned Frogs retained the Iron Skillet by knocking off SMU last week, getting a solid effort from Trevone Boykin (15-of-26, 228 yards, two TDs). Boykin, filling in for the injured Casey Pachall, completed passes to seven different players, with Ty Slanina turning his three grabs into 63 yards and a score. As for the ground assault, Waymon James and B.J. Catalon combined for 99 yards and two TDs.

Pretty much in survival mode at this point, Patterson is taking one game at a time and reflected on the win over SMU.

"We just wanted to win like I said all week. We were trying to find a way to get back to one point," He continued, "We did what we needed to do. We played great on special teams besides the blocked punt, played great defense and scored with opportunities and we'll go forward."

TCU had a rough time converting on third down (2-of-12), but averaged more than five yards per offensive play and scored on all five trips to the red zone. For the season, the Frogs are putting up 30.8 ppg in producing 349.2 ypg. They only have four passing TDs, all belonging to Boykin who has hit 60.9 percent of his tosses for 625 yards. Catalon leads the way with 214 yards and four TDs rushing, while Carter heads the receiving corps with 13 catches for 156 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone.

The TCU defense was on point last week, allowing a SMU offense which came in ranked 10th in the country in passing just 292 total yards, all while logging four interceptions and seven sacks. The Ponies had trouble establishing an offensive rhythm, tallying a net of only 16 rushing yards. The Frogs did all that without star defensive lineman Devonte Fields, who missed the game with a knee injury. Marcus Mallet paced the unit with 10 tackles, four of which he made behind the line of scrimmage, while Sam Carter picked off a pair of passes, one of which he returned 66 yards for a TD with just over a minute remaining in regulation.

Foes are generating 353.8 ypg, with their effort through the air resulting in 238 ypg and six TDs. On the scoreboard, the Frogs yield 22.8 ppg but have been credited with 15 sacks and 12 takeaways. Jon Lewis has three sacks, while Carter and Chris Hackett have three picks apiece.

Making just his second career start, Blake Bell completed 22-of-30 passes for 232 yards and two TDs to lead Oklahoma past Notre Dame in South Bend last weekend. Bell hit Jalen Saunders seven times for 46 yards, and Sterling Shepard five times for 83 yards and a score. The OU run game amassed 212 yards, with Brennan Clay gaining 77 yards on 14 carries, while Bell tacked on 59 yards on a dozen totes.

Corey Nelson returned an interception 24 yards for a TD to open the scoring last week at Notre Dame, setting the tone early for the Oklahoma defense, which allowed just 324 yards to the Irish, who tallied only 12 first downs and lost the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes. Frank Shannon and Quentin Hayes led the Sooners with eight tackles each, while the unit as a whole came up with three interceptions.

Having appeared in all four games this season, Bell has been highly efficient in completing 71.2 percent of his passes for 683 yards, six TDs and no interceptions. Saunders and Shepard are one-two in catches (17 and 16, respectively), with the latter accounting for 229 yards, and the two combining for six TDs. Clay has picked up a club-best 339 yards, but his two TDs account for half of the team's total rushing scores.

Oklahoma is giving up just 12.0 ppg, with opponents earning 299.5 ypg. The Sooners have been particularly stingy against the pass (169.0 ypg), permitting just two aerial TDs. Shannon leads the way with 27 tackles, and both Julian Wilson and Gabe Lynn have two interceptions each. A lack of pressure on the quarterback has resulted in only four sacks.

Stoops knows beating TCU isn't going to be easy.

"They're another good football team. They played a tough early schedule, but again we're very aware of them and what a good football team they are. They always play great defense and they still do. They're playing well so it will be another challenge here this weekend playing TCU here."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/03/2013 01:22 PM

Oklahoma’s defense has passed test after test this season.

Yet, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin brings a test the Sooners have not seen in 2013 when TCU visits Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday. It’s a scary prospect for Sooners’ fans nine months after they watched Johnny Manziel run around, weave through and flat out outrun the Sooners defense in the Cotton Bowl last January.

“He’s a great running quarterback and he has a great arm,” defensive end Geneo Grissom said. “We’re going to have our hands full keeping him in the pocket.”

Quite simply, OU’s defense has been outstanding during the 4-0 start. The defense has been the driving, consistent force while the offense struggled to find its way early. Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa brought spread attacks to the table, testing the Sooners’ secondary, while Notre Dame brought a physical run game. The 4-0 record makes it clear that OU passed both tests.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops’ move to a three-man front to help increase the overall versatility and make the unit faster has paid off thus far but OU hasn’t seen a runner at the quarterback position like the Horned Frogs’ signal-caller. And Stoops didn’t think twice when asked if Boykin presents a test as a running quarterback which his defense hasn’t seen in 2013.

“Without question," Stoops said. "When you look at his speed, athleticism, ability to run and cut and then throw the football, he’s a very dynamic player.”

Fortunately for OU, it won’t be the first time it had to deal with Boykin’s unique running ability. One game before the Sooners’ defense was embarrassed by Manziel, they handled Boykin well in a 24-17 win on Dec. 1, 2012. He was held to 36 yards on 11 carries while completing 17 of 31 passes for 231 yards and one touchdown.

Yet, the majority of the Sooners’ defense didn’t make major contributions on that day, watching from the sidelines as their teammates slowed down the Horned Frogs offense. Seven new starters will line up against Boykin on Saturday with the hope of being as prepared as possible to keep a TCU offense, which has struggled this season, under wraps.

“A lot of guys don’t necessarily know what kind of athlete he is,” said cornerback Aaron Colvin, one of the few Sooners’ defenders who was on the field in Fort Worth that afternoon. “But when you watch him on film or TV, you can see he’s elusive with the ball. You can tell them all you want but when you see a guy on the field, it’s a different feel than what you’ve seen on film.”

OU’s scheme changes were made, in part, for games like this and quarterbacks like Boykin. Their 3-3-5 system gets more speed and athleticism on the field to help deal with athletic quarterbacks who can make defenses pay with their legs and arm.

One of the key players on Saturday could be linebacker Eric Striker, the main player who has seen increased playing time in the 3-3-5 system. The sophomore spends most of his time as a rush linebacker-- his hit on quarterback Tommy Rees caused Corey Nelson’s interception against Notre Dame last Saturday-- and he will be asked to help corral Boykin on Saturday.

“He’s very shifty and fast,” Striker said. “Our scheme will help [contain him) and our athletic ability [will help contain him].”

While Boykin is far from a Manziel-like test for the Sooners, the sophomore is a different test than they've faced this season. It’s a test the Sooners feel better prepared for this season than they may have been in the past.

“We’re faster and being more aggressive,” Stoops said of his defense. “We’ll, hopefully, use that aggressiveness to contain him, but you still have to be able to control their run game as well.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/04/2013 01:18 PM

The three-game stretch with Notre Dame, TCU and Texas in successive weeks loomed large for No. 11 Oklahoma at the start of the season.

Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) dispatched some of the program's demons by winning 35-21 last Saturday at then-No. 22 Notre Dame. Now the Sooners want to avoid a letdown Saturday against TCU (2-2, 0-1), which has struggled at times after entering the season being considered as a top conference contender.

This would seem to be a classic trap game - a game against a potentially potent foe, right after one of the biggest wins in recent years and just before the always-emotional showdown with archrival Texas. But Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says it won't be hard for the Sooners to focus on TCU.

``We don't play four games,'' Stoops said Monday, during his weekly news conference. ``We didn't set the whole season up and work all year round to beat Notre Dame. It's part of the cycle. We've got another game this week, an important one. They're all Big 12 games coming. No one around here is ever satisfied with beating one team. That's not how it works. Maybe some other places, but not here. We've got to win this week and then the following week and the following week. Next game up.''

Even though Stoops has tried to downplay the significance of the win at Notre Dame, it was only the second time in 11 opportunities that Oklahoma has beaten the Fighting Irish and the first time since 1956. The win provided evidence that Oklahoma might well be the team to beat in the Big 12 race, especially with TCU and Oklahoma State each having already lost a conference game.

In fact, considering the early season issues of both TCU and Texas, the argument could be made that Oklahoma's toughest stretch could be back-to-back games at home against No. 20 Texas Tech on Oct. 26 and at No. 17 Baylor on Nov. 7.

Oklahoma's players aren't ready to dismiss TCU - which dealt Stoops one of the more embarrassing losses of his 15-year tenure, a 17-10 win in Norman in the 2005 season opener - as a legitimate Big 12 contender. Linebacker Corey Nelson - who returned an interception for an early touchdown against Notre Dame - called the matchup against the Horned Frogs ``the biggest game of the season so far.''

``This focus this week has to be 10 times better than it was, compared to last week,'' Nelson said. ``We have to be even more focused than we were against Notre Dame, because we can't let TCU come in here and beat us, you know. We have to keep that intensity and continue to remain humble and hungry in everything that we're doing. So the focus this week has to be at an all-time high, because we have to win this game to not have another letdown.''

Offensive tackle Daryl Williams said the Notre Dame win ``was just one game. We still have a lot more to go and a lot more to reach our goals. We celebrated it. It was good. We won. Time to move on.''

That said, Stoops said he thinks the way the Sooners won - jumping to a quick lead, holding off a Notre Dame comeback, scoring a key fourth-quarter touchdown and being able to run out the clock over the final 5:39 - should pay dividends the rest of the season.

``To go into a good environment against an excellent football team and play like we did should give them confidence,'' Stoops said. ``Hopefully it gives them a hunger to want to do it more and better. More than anything, that's what I'd like for it to do.

``The better teams get better as you go throughout the year. Playing well like we did in a big setting on the road give you more hunger. The mistakes our players will see today when we're with them as so obvious that we can be better. What we have to keep pushing for is to clean up some of those to even be better. That's what we're after.''

TCU is coming off a 48-17 rout of SMU on Saturday. The defense forced five turnovers and Trevone Boykin led five straight second-half scoring drives to help the Frogs overcome a three-point halftime deficit.

TCU scored 31 points in the fourth quarter.

``I got after the offense pretty good at halftime,'' coach Gary Patterson said. ``They've got to start understanding at some point in time that they have to look at themselves. They did a better job in the second half.''

Safety Sam Carter totaled five tackles against the Mustangs - 1 1/2 for loss - along with a sack, a forced fumble and two interceptions, including one returned 66 yards for a touchdown, to earn Big 12 defensive player of the week honors.

In the last meeting with Oklahoma on Dec. 1, Carter returned an interception 42 yards and Boykin passed for 231 yards and totaled two touchdowns, but the No. 12 Sooners held on to win 24-17 at Fort Worth.

Oklahoma has taken two straight matchups and leads the series 8-4.