The no. 9 Oklahoma Sooners still have hopes to get back to the College Football Playoff as they get set to host the TCU Horned Frogs. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST on Saturday, November 23 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. The game will be televised nationally on Fox.
Current betting odds list the Sooners as 18-point favorites at home with an over/under of 65 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s college football odds.
The Sooners can breathe a big sigh of relief after a comeback win over previously undefeated Baylor last week. Nothing went right for Oklahoma in the first half of the game. But the Sooners rallied to erase a 25-point deficit and win the game 34-31. After losing to Kansas State in late October, Oklahoma couldn’t afford to lose a second game and still make the CFP. As it stands, the odds are slim but the Sooners are still alive.
The good news is that it would take two losses and a lot of bad luck to keep Oklahoma out of the Big 12 Championship Game. A win over TCU will assure the Sooners a spot in the title game. However, Oklahoma has to win all of their remaining games, including the Big 12 title game, and do so in convincing fashion to give them any chance to working their way up to the top-4.
As for TCU, the Horned Frogs snapped a two-game losing skid with a 33-31 win over rival Texas Tech last week. The season was close to getting away from the Horned Frogs, but they managed to survive a tough road game that could have gone either way. However, the 5-5 Horned Frogs still need one more win to become bowl eligible.
TCU has only missed a bowl game once in the last 14 years, so falling short this year would be a surprise and a setback for the program. The good news is that the Horned Frogs will host West Virginia the final week of the season. They should be favored in that game, giving TCU a safety net. Of course, the Horned Frogs would prefer to win this week and not face a must-win game in their season finale.
Of course, wins over Oklahoma are a rare occurrence for most Big 12 teams, and the Horned Frogs are no exception. Since TCU joined the league in 2012, they have just one win over the Sooners in eight games, and it came in 2014. Oklahoma has beaten TCU in five consecutive meetings, with each game having a bigger margin of victory than the previous one, including a 52-27 Oklahoma win in last year’s meeting.
In their last three games, Oklahoma has a loss, a 1-point win, and a 3-point win. I won’t deny there is some risk in picking them to cover a big spread after what the Sooners have done over the past month. Also, most of TCU’s losses this season have been by reasonable margins, so they’ve managed to stay competitive this season. But I think Oklahoma will finally be able to relax a little after last week’s comeback win. The Sooners dominated the second half against Baylor on both sides, and I think that will continue this week. I’ll take a leap of faith and lean toward Oklahoma to win and cover at home.
The final score of last week’s game with Baylor was close, but the stats weren’t. Oklahoma out-gained the Bears by over 200 yards and had the ball for over 41 minutes. Keep in mind that after the first quarter, Baylor’s points came on two short touchdown drives that followed turnovers and a field goal right before halftime. The Oklahoma defense eventually clamped down and the OU offense got on track. If the Sooners had done that from the beginning, the game would have been a blowout.
While the TCU defense has been solid at times this season, they’re nothing special. Outside of their win over lowly Kansas, the Horned Frogs have given up at least 24 points in every Big 12 game. Meanwhile, the Sooners have scored no less than 34 points in a game all season. Oklahoma’s young receivers are starting to come along while Jalen Hurts reminded everyone last week that he is a force with both his arm and his legs.
Meanwhile, while the Oklahoma defense isn’t the most trustworthy unit, they have shown that they are capable of playing lock-down defense for large stretches. I also worry a little about TCU freshman quarterback Max Duggan playing in a hostile environment. Overall, he’s handled himself well this season. However, over his last three games, he has just four touchdown passes compared to six interceptions. His completion percentage has also plummeted in recent weeks and I’m not sure he can match Hurts in a shootout without making mistakes and turning the ball over.
Again, this pick takes a leap of faith, but I think this is the week that Oklahoma gets back to being Oklahoma. They have survived the toughest stretch of their schedule, so things should get a little easier playing TCU at home. I like the Sooners to start fast, carrying over the momentum from their comeback last week. That should allow Oklahoma to seize control of the game early and eventually cover the spread with ease.