Oklahoma football: Five things Sooners must do to dispose of TCU

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 2: Parnell Motley #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners breaks up a pass intended for Jalen Reagor #18 of the TCU Horned Frogs in the first half of the Big 12 Championship AT&T Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 2: Parnell Motley #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners breaks up a pass intended for Jalen Reagor #18 of the TCU Horned Frogs in the first half of the Big 12 Championship AT&T Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma football offense has been putting up big numbers on the scoreboard and amassing extraordinary yardage totals for the better part of the last five seasons.

The Sooners have registered at least 500 yards of offense 48 times in the last 64 games, dating back to the start of the 2015 season. It’s not a coincidence that this is the time frame matches the length of time Lincoln Riley has been a member of the OU coaching staff.

Riley became the offensive coordinator on Bob Stoops’ Sooner staff in 2015. After two seasons in that role, Riley was named Oklahoma’s head coach following Stoops’ retirement. All he has done since assuming the head coaching reins is win 33 of 38 games, lead the Sooners to two consecutive College Football Playoff appearances, two top-five finishes and develop back-to-back Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks.

Oh, and by the way, Oklahoma has not finished lower than first place in the Big 12 in all five seasons Riley has been in Norman.

Jalen Hurts is the third different starting quarterback at Oklahoma since Riley was named head coach. All three — Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray (both of whom currently are starting QBs in the NFL) and Hurts — are different in their skill sets and styles of play, yet the OU offense has hardly missed a beat. The Sooners have owned the No. 1 offense in college football each of the past two seasons and remain so, with Hurts at the controls, through 10 games this season.

This week, the Big 12’s best offense meets up with TCU, the best defensive team in the conference in terms of yards per game, and arguably the league’s best defense coach in Gary Patterson.

With Hurts running the show this season, Oklahoma has exceeded 500 yards of offense in nine of 10 games. The one game that the Sooners fell short of that mark — and it was by only three yards — was against Kansas State in their lone loss this season. The OU offense produced 497 yards in that game.

It’s going to take another strong offensive effort, coupled with a sound defensive performance, to reach the 10-win level with a victory over a good TCU team on Saturday.

Here are five things Oklahoma must do to assure a win over the Horned Frogs:

First team to 34 points wins

Oklahoma has scored at least 34 points in 20 consecutive games and in 31 of its last 32. The Sooners rank third among FBS teams in scoring offense this season, averaging 47.0 points a game. And that number is right at 50 points a game when playing at home against Big 12 teams.

TCU is averaging just 32.3 points a game and has put up as many as 34 points just five times in 2019 and only twice against Big 12 opponents. The twice the Horned Frogs scored 34-plus  against Big 12 teams were at home. In five games away from Amon G. Carter Stadium in Ft. Worth this season, TCU is averaging 27.0 points a game.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Win the turnover battle

Oklahoma has registered only eight takeaways through 10 games, and two of those (a fumble and a game-winning interception) were last weekend at Baylor. The Sooners have given the ball away five more times than they’ve taken it away (minus-five), but TCU is only slightly better, with a minus-three turnover margin.

If the Sooners are able to carry over the defensive momentum from the second half at Baylor and win the turnover battle against TCU on Saturday, it will only enhance their chance of winning as well as the margin of victory.

Shut down the TCU run game

Like Oklahoma, the TCU offense is one of the more balanced in the Big 12, meaning they average about as many rushing yards (215.6) as passing yards per game (223.5), but it starts with establishing the run game.

By comparison, OU’s rushing offense (247.1 per game) ranks 13th in the country; TCU’s run game is the 22nd-best. The Sooners have run (no pun intended) hot and cold this season in stopping teams with good running attacks and especially teams with dual-threat quarterbacks.

A winning game plan defensively for Oklahoma is shutting down the Horned Frogs ability to run the ball effectively and making the Horned Frog offense one-dimensional and more predictable. TCU freshman QB Max Duggan’s completion rate is just 56 percent and he has thrown seven interceptions. He does have a stud receiver and playmaker in Jalen Reagor, but the more pressure the Sooners can get on the young QB, the better chance they have of sacking him or, better yet, forcing him into a mistake with the ball.

Don’t let TCU WR Jalen Reagor beat you

Speaking of Jalen Reagor, he is the one Horned Frog on offense that the Sooner secondary needs to keep an eye on at all times. He has excellent speed and can beat you deep, and with that speed Reagor (a former Oklahoma commit who decommitted and flipped to TCU in the 2017 recruiting class) he is able to gain good yardage after the catch. He averages 15.1 yards per catch and has five touchdown receptions this season.

Reagor had just one catch for 33 yards and a touchdown in last year’s game between these two teams, won by Oklahoma 52-27.

Game management

The Sooner have the talent and the firepower to score quickly on offense, usually in fewer than eight plays. That puts added pressure on the OU defensive unit, who often have to return to the field after a very short ret.

In the second half at Baylor last week, the Sooners possessed the ball on offense for almost 25 of the 30 minutes and five drives of more than10 plays and one that lasted nine plays. Meanwhile, the Baylor offense managed just 16 plays total in the second half, in large part the result of a rested and more energized Oklahoma defense.

That kind of offensive game management will wear down even the best of defenses. The Sooners would like to be able to put that kind of stress and fatigue factor on the TCU defense on Saturday. That starts with the ability of the OU defense to get off the field on third down.