OU football: Sooners must contain TCU's running backs to keep Big 12 title within reach
The No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners have a chance to clinch a share of the Big 12 title this weekend when the Sooners take on TCU at 11 a.m. Saturday in Fort Worth.
With a win, OU will be tied with Kansas State for first place in the Big 12, and if Kansas State loses to Texas, the Sooners will win the conference outright — something that seemed impossible two weeks ago.
Like the Sooners, TCU hasn’t met its high expectations for this season. The Horned Frogs expected to contend for a conference title in their inaugural season in the Big 12 but have gone 7-4 thus far.
TCU began the season 4-0 and ranked No. 15, but in early October, junior quarterback Casey Pachall was dismissed from the team after an arrest for drunk driving.
Since Pachall’s dismissal, TCU has lost four of its last seven games and fallen to fifth place in the Big 12.
But Pachall’s replacement, redshirt freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin, has played admirably in Pachall’s absence.
“[Boykin] is a guy who I think has come in and done a really good job,” coach Bob Stoops said. “I think as much as anything everybody just tries to play to the quarterback’s strengths.
“The design of the offense has a lot to do with what you’re asking him to do and making sure he’s comfortable, and they’ve done that really well.”
Boykin has carried the ball at least 10 times in six of his seven starts and ranks third on the team in rushing. He also has thrown 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions.
But the real strength of TCU’s offense is its two-headed rushing attack, senior running back Matthew Tucker and freshman running back B.J. Catalon. The pair has combined for 978 rushing yards and five touchdowns (all scored by Tucker).
“They’ve been good about running the football,” Stoops said. “It’s something they like to do, for sure.”
Some writers and analysts have put OU on upset alert against TCU, expecting the Sooners to have a hangover from last weekend’s emotional Bedlam win. But senior defensive tackle Casey Walker said that’s not the case.
“It’s one of those things where you want to live in the moment, but at the same time, you have to also know the season is not over yet,” Walker said. “We’re on the line easily for a Big 12 title and BCS bowl game, and it’s one of the goals that you set at the beginning of the year, so you have to forget about it.”
And that’s the only thing on the Sooners’ minds: the BCS.
“It would be huge for us,” senior quarterback Landry Jones said. “But to get to that BCS bowl game, we have to win against TCU, so that is what we are focusing on this week for Saturday coming up.”