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November 30, 2012

Friday Night 20: Previewing TCU vs. Oklahoma

On to the next one.

TCU beat Big 12 powerhouse Texas last week in Austin, and now the Horned Frogs have a chance to knock off another perennial league title contender in Oklahoma.

Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. In the meantime, here's your Friday Night 20:

1. The offensive gameplan against Texas wasn't explosive, but it seemed to be an ideal situation for the young TCU offense. Consider: Trevone Boykin was efficient and effective, but he wasn't forced into game-changing situations, throwing only nine passes, seven of which were completed. Matthew Tucker was able to grind out tough gains. And B.J. Catalon was explosive at key junctures in the game.

2. The problem, for the Frogs, is that probably won't be able to be sustained against Oklahoma. Or at least it won't be able to be sustained effectively, especially if the Frogs get into a shootout with the Sooners, who have been in a few this year.

3. Staying on the topic of TCU's offense, what might have been lost after the Texas game was the fact that Boykin rushed for 78 yards. Surprisingly, for a speedy quarterback, this has been something Boykin has seemed to be hesitant to do. But when he does, the Frogs are all the more productive for it.

4. The Frogs' first December game might as well be in September. Forecasts call for temperatures in the low-70s, and that's for an 11 a.m. kickoff.

5. He only rushed for 58 yards against Texas, but Matthew Tucker fought hard for every one of them, pounding out drive-moving runs on the Frogs' first possession and punching in two scores from the goal line. From a physicality standpoint, Tucker, who's been battling a bum ankle most of the season, set the tone early for TCU.

6. So, that TCU defensive line is, um, pretty good. Went back and watched some of the Texas game, and it was amazing the amount of push not only Devonte Fields and Stansly Maponga got on the Longhorns' offensive line, but also the amount pressure applied up the middle from guys like Chucky Hunter and Jon Lewis.

7. The Patterson-to-Arkansas rumor mill heated up again this week with reports surfacing that Patterson turned down a deal from the Razorbacks, who reportedly offered LSU coach Les Miles.

Patterson, not surprisingly, denied receiving an offer from Arkansas.

8. This just isn't going away, at least not until Arkansas makes a hire.

9. My No. 1 reason why Patterson wouldn't leave for Fayeteville: Arkansas simply isn't a better job. Especially now, with LSU and Alabama dominating the SEC West and Texas A&M gaining some footing of its own.

Factor in facilities and Patterson's status at TCU, and the odds of him leaving seem even slimmer.

10. I grew up watching Oklahoma football, and for the past 13 years there's been plenty of big-time quarterbacks pass through the program.

Josh Heupel nearly won the Heisman. Jason White and Sam Bradford did. And the guys in between weren't half bad, either.

Nate Hybl won a Rose Bowl. Paul Thompson won a Big 12 championship. Rhett Bomar, before he threw away his career "working" at a Norman car dealership, was the MVP of the 2005 Holiday Bowl.

But of all those guys, Landry Jones has thrown for more yards, more touchdowns and has won more games.

Jones isn't just up there with the top signal-callers of the Bob Stoops era - he's up there with the top quarterbacks in school history. He's that good.

11. He's also often-overlooked, which is probably a product of him never being in much contention for a Heisman Trophy and the Sooners not competing for a national championship the last four years.

Don't think Patterson - or his secondary - is overlooking anything when it comes to Jones.

12. If you haven't seen it yet, go look up a picture of the TCU's new endzone designs. Instead of white lettering with purple outlines, there will be purple lettering with white outlines. Same thing at mid-field. Very sharp look.

13. As undesirable of a start time most fans might think 11 a.m. is, it's actually the best slot Saturday in terms of game exposures. Frogs and Sooners won't have to worry about going up against the SEC championship game later in the day.

14. Ironically enough, a TCU win over Oklahoma would hurt the Frogs' bowl status, as it would take the Sooners out of BCS berth contention, moving TCU down a slot on the Big 12 pecking order.

15. Since seemingly everybody (including myself) has there own opinion as to where the Frogs will land, let's review a few possible bowl scenarios:

A) If TCU wins Saturday, Oklahoma would likely go to the Cotton Bowl, meaning Texas would probably go to the Alamo Bowl. That would leave Oklahoma State and TCU on relatively equal ground for selection to Buffalo Wild Wings, Holiday and Texas bowls.

B) If TCU loses Saturday and Kansas State wins, Oklahoma would likely go to the Sugar Bowl, leaving the Cotton Bowl to decide between what would probably be Oklahoma State (given it beats Baylor) and Texas. Both would be 8-4. The Frogs, at 7-5, would be a longshot, meaning they'd likely go to either the Holiday or Buffalo Wild Wings bowl.

Conclusion: Regardless of Saturday's outcome, TCU will probably end up in either Tempe (Buffalo Wild Wings) or San Diego (Holiday).

16. Last time TCU played Oklahoma at 11 a.m: 2005. I think TCU fans might remember that one.

17. The problem Saturday won't be Kenny Stills, but rather all the other weapons around him. Jason Verrett will be on Stills most of the game. The Sooners know this and they've likely prepared for it, shifting, I assume, their offensive focus toward guys like Sterling Shepherd and Jalen Saunders in the passing game. Both are speedy, Brandon Carter-types who should present a challenge, coverage-wise, to the TCU linebackers.

18. Saunders, the Sooners' midseason transfer from Fresno State, could be the x-factor in Oklahoma's passing game. He had 14 catches in his debut earlier this season and returned a punt for a touchdown

19. How good can this TCU defense be with a little rest? Well, we saw it against Texas, and I'm not talking about the way in which the Frogs shut down David Ash. The Frogs rendered the Longhorns' running game ineffective, holding the talented corps of backs to less than 100 yards. TCU will have had 8 full days of rest before Saturday's game against Oklahoma.

20. Our guy Trey Fallon wrote about this earlier in the week, but a win against the Sooners would turn a so-so season (which was boosted by the win over Texas) into a success, regardless of the injuries and player defections that have affected the Frogs. Even with Pachall and some of the other guys who ended up out of the year, winning three out of its last four games would have been a challenge for TCU. The Frogs will have a chance to do just that Saturday. If they do, you'd have to put Patterson in the discussion for Big 12 coach of the year.



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