NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma can’t rest now.
Sandwiched between the largest comeback win in school history against Baylor and a showdown with in-state rival Oklahoma State is Saturday matchup with a TCU squad that is much more dangerous than its record indicates.
Four of TCU’s five losses are by seven points or fewer, and the Horned Frogs (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) proved capable with a win over Texas a month ago. Given the fact that the Sooners had to rally from 25 points down to top Baylor, Oklahoma is in no position to take anyone lightly. That’s especially true because the eighth-ranked Sooners (9-1, 6-1, No. 9 CFP) still have hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff.
“The momentum of winning a game like that is great, but it’s not going to be enough to beat TCU,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “You have to go put it into action.”
TCU’s offense is improving. Freshman quarterback Max Duggan is coming off perhaps the best game of his career. He passed for 323 yards and rushed for 75 in a 33-31 win at Texas Tech last week.
The Horned Frogs have a typically tough defense under coach Gary Patterson. They lead the Big 12 in total defense, having surrendered just 328.8 yards per game. Linebacker Garret Wallow ranks second in the Big 12 and is tied for 15th nationally with 97 tackles, including 13 for loss.
“They are playing extremely good defensively, like they always do,” Riley said. “There are a lot of new faces on that defense, but they are playing like TCU does on defense. That’s no surprise. Coach Patterson, as I’ve always said, is the best at what he does.”
Oklahoma will test Patterson’s defense. The Sooners lead the nation in total offense, and quarterback Jalen Hurts leads the nation in passer efficiency rating and has nearly 1,000 yards rushing.
The Sooners could be without star receiver CeeDee Lamb, who sat out the Baylor game with an undisclosed medical condition. Even without him, Hurts connected on 30 of 42 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns against Baylor.
Either way, all Patterson sees is talent.
“As usual, we’ve got our hands full both sides of the ball,” he said. “Normal OU team. Very athletic, so you’ve got to get ready to play, especially when you’re playing in Norman.”
Alex Grinch is getting results as Oklahoma’s first-year defensive coordinator. The Sooners lead the Big 12 in total defense during league play and are significantly better through 10 games than it was last season. Last year, the defense had allowed 453.8 yards per game; this year’s unit is yielding 349.4. The Sooners are allowing 25.6 points per game, down from 33.3 points per game last year.
Oklahoma tight end Grant Calcaterra has announced his retirement from football due to concussions. An All-Big 12 selection last season, Calcaterra finished his career with 41 catches for 637 yards and nine touchdowns. He caught two touchdown passes in the Big 12 Championship Game win over Texas last season.
TCU has two of the most versatile players in the Big 12 in running back Darius Anderson and receiver Jalen Reagor.
Anderson has 785 yards rushing and averages 116.9 all-purpose yards per game. Reagor ranks second nationally in punt return average with 18.4 yards per return. He averages 91.1 all-purpose yards per game, 10th in the Big 12.
The week of Oklahoma’s rally from a 28-3 deficit to beat Baylor, the Sooners watched the Super Bowl when the New England Patriots rallied from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons.
“I think that particular one was one that coach Grinch showed the defense throughout the week,” Riley said. “I’ll tell him to pick one where we don’t get down so far next time.”
Oklahoma kicker Gabe Brkic has become quite the weapon. The sophomore hit the game-winning 31-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining to beat Baylor. For the season, Brkic has made all 12 of his field goal attempts and all 37 of his extra point tries.
“In my world, it’d be perfect to say, I don’t need you this week,” Hurts said. “It’d be perfect to say that. Go in and score in the red zone every time. That’s a goal. But he’s as dependable as it gets, and he’s doing a great job for us.”