A critic once wrote that the greatness of The Three Stooges was proven by their scripts not being very good. Because Moe, Larry and Curly often told ordinary old jokes, the critic knew he must be laughing due to the genius of the actors.
The 2017 Texas Christian Horned Frogs can be judged in a similar way…unfortunately for them. Vegas odds-makers have installed TCU as a TD underdog vs the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 title game this Saturday. Why? Because in the Frogs’ 38-20 loss to OU a few weeks ago, they didn’t play all that bad.
Kenny Hill did not throw an interception. There were no lost fumbles, and no major breakdown in pass blocking or in run defense. Oklahoma gained less than 5 yards per carry. But the Sooners’ offense was marvelous on 3rd down and ruled the 1st half, taking a 38-14 lead into the break.
It would be different for TCU if the 1st half at Norman had been a blunder bowl, with some type of emotional or coaching breakdown…something, anything! Instead, it appears that they were simply out-played and out-muscled at the LOS, and that Baker Mayfield is a better QB than Hill.
Who: TCU Horned Frogs vs Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 Championship Game)
When: Saturday, December 2nd, 12:30 PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Lines: TCU (+7) vs Oklahoma (-7) / O/U Total: (63)
Oklahoma has a fine-tuned offensive machine, a fiery (sometimes to a fault) QB in Mayfield, and a burly and talented defensive front-7. OU’s Achilles Heel remains having to face high-tech, speedy offenses, which the defense has struggled to corral in recent weeks.
Following a loss to Iowa State, the Sooners bucked-up and set the edge against straight-forward, power offenses, beating Texas 29-24 and shutting down a hot Alex Delton of KSU when it counted. The defense was largely helpless to stop Oklahoma State the following Saturday, however, and later gave up 250 rushing yards to West Virginia.
The WVU performance can be discounted somewhat, because an explosion in the 1st half courtesy of Mayfield and OU tailback Rodney Anderson gave the Sooners a big lead. At that point, DC Mike Stoops was happy to give the Mountaineers 5 yards up the middle. But there’s no telling how the Oklahoma ‘D will react if faced with another red-hot offense at the top of its game.
Does TCU’s attack qualify as a “formula one” offense that can bother Oklahoma? It sure didn’t on November 11th. But the Frogs didn’t execute on 3rd down and couldn’t cope with a lack of explosive plays. It wasn’t a physical demolition. Gary Patterson’s athletes can play with OU, but it will take improvement in all 3 phases to claim the title.
Hill and the offense didn’t exactly set the world on fire in their warm-up game. The offense rushed for only 3.1 yards per carry against Baylor in a game that was needlessly close in the 3rd quarter. It seems apparent that while OU’s defense may struggle against Nintendo teams, TCU has trouble moving the ball against hard-nosed defenses. Iowa State shut down the Frogs, and even Texas and Arkansas were able to cover ordinary Power-5 receivers like John Diarse on the outside.
The kicking game is hurting, with PK Jonathan Song missing practices due to an undisclosed injury. And Texas Christian has played shut-down defense at times in 2017…but not against great opponents, and not 2 of the past 3 weeks.
We’re liking the under (63), as there won’t be any charity yards up the middle in this one. Oklahoma’s defensive backfield is healthier than it was when they whipped the Frogs, and TCU will work to contain explosive plays since their offense is inconsistent in producing them.
Against the point spread, take the Sooners to prevail by 8+ points and continue to out-class a Horned Frog team that peaked a little too early.