Photo by Ellman Photography
It’s been seven years since the Big 12 had a championship game. Then the College Football Playoff happened, and when the Big 12 was left out of the first one, cries for an outright champion led to the game’s reinstatement.
So here we are. TCU and Oklahoma will meet again in a battle for the title at AT&T Stadium on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Here are five things to watch out for.
Between Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield not getting a scholarship offer from TCU back in the day and a small pre-game incident during TCU and Oklahoma’s last meeting, let’s just say there’s a good amount of emotion coming from both sides. Regardless, TCU head coach Gary Patterson says the Frogs are trying to stay focused on what’s important, and that’s winning.
2. A first half without safety Nick Orr.
Safety Nick Orr will miss the first half of the game for participating in the brawl during last Saturday’s game against Baylor. His absence shouldn’t hurt the Frogs that much though, as safety Niko Small is expected to return after being out with injury. Either way, TCU has the best pass defense in the Big 12, with opponents completing just 51.6 percent of their passes.
3. Defensive revenge.
Oklahoma torched TCU’s defense in their last meeting, winning 38-20, perhaps much of it due to TCU defensive end Mat Boesen being ejected from the game for a personal foul (that many deemed questionable to begin with). This time, Boesen, who leads TCU with 11.5 sacks on the season, should be back. He and fellow defensive end Ben Banogu make a dangerous pairing.
4. TCU needs a polished offensive performance.
Hill struggled against Oklahoma the first time around, completing just 46.4 percent of his passes in a surprisingly solid defensive performance by the Sooners. While Hill might not be the most exceptional quarterback, he can be a good one. He has a 66.6 percent completion rate on the season and had a great game against Baylor. If the offensive line can give him good protection, and he avoids committing turnovers, the Frogs should put up a solid fight against the Sooners. A neutral playing field might make all the difference.
5. So, what if TCU wins?
If Oklahoma (currently No. 3 in playoff rankings) wins, that most likely means an automatic ticket to the College Football Playoff. But let’s face it, Frog fans — even if TCU (currently No. 11) wins, it probably won’t have much bearing on its chances at cracking the Top Four. In fact, it could oust the Big 12 altogether. Then again, in that scenario Oklahoma will be out, but TCU will get the trophy and a lot of Frog fans will be really, really happy.