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Oklahoma is into the thick of its Big 12 schedule. After Saturday’s heavyweight date with TCU, Bedlam and Oklahoma State await. Will the Sooners keep their playoff hopes alive against the Horned Frogs?
1. All our rowdy fans can’t settle down: The last game on Owen Field for 14 Sooner seniors who deserve to go out in style with another full house of verbose Oklahoma fans who come early and stay late. The noise level when TCU has the ball must move the decibel level significantly.
2. Frog legs and ankles: It’s not that I don’t believe everything that I read, (I don’t, by the way), but I will believe TCU QB Trevone Boykin doesn’t play when I see him harmlessly standing on the east side of the field for the entire, chilly evening Saturday. Many in the national media feel that if Boykin plays that he “wills” TCU to the upset. TCU has gained 6,000 offensive yards this season, and Boykin has accounted for more than 4,000 of them.
3. Baker, Baker touchdown maker: OU QB Baker Mayfield continues to be the catalyst of this team that seems to be fueled by the former walk-on’s grit and passion. Getting rid of the ball a little quicker is still a key component for the continued success of No. 6 and his offensive teammates. Another big game on national, prime-time TV should punch Baker’s ticket to the Big Apple for the December Heisman Trophy ceremony.
4. Run, Samaje, run: NFL scouts love Samaje Perine’s game all the way from the classroom to the end zone. Getting Perine going downhill early is a key for OU to control the ball and keep Gary Patterson’s playmakers as onlookers. Something tells me that Joe Mixon will also have a big night, especially catching the football.
5. Let’s get physical … and mental: The Sooners won a Texas Death Match in Waco on hostile ground. What did the physical battle last Saturday night take out of this group, and can the players regenerate both physically and mentally to play an excellent team loaded with talent and as well-coached as any team in the league? If OU isn’t mentally sharp, it loses.
6. Take no prisoners: OU must not implode with self-inflicted issues like turnovers that take the offense off the field prematurely and foolish penalties that extend TCU drives. Smart, physical football with a little JR’s Original BBQ Sauce is on the menu Saturday night against a dangerous team that has been backed into a corner. The line of scrimmage leads to the pay window and with that said, which squad is “Dead Team Walking?”
7. Sterling is exactly that: No one exemplifies the Sooner spirit of Bob Stoops’ team more than than Sterling Shepard, the “$2 Steak Tough” second-generation Sooner senior who will play his last game on Owen Field. The best receiver in the Big 12 has had an All-American-type year and must be stopped or at least slowed if the Horned Frogs have a shot at upsetting OU at home … again. To attempt to cover Sterling with one defender is not prudent. How about a punt return for six as a going-away present?
This game is just as big as it ever was, including when the TV decision-makers influenced the Big 12 into backloading its schedule to positively affect the November TV ratings sweeps just as they would any prime-time TV drama’s season-ending episodes. For the Big 12 to have a prayer of getting one team into the final four, based on how the selection committee obviously feels about the league, OU and Oklahoma State have to both win on Saturday, and then it’s still far from a lock. TCU is wounded, but the Horned Frogs aren’t dead. Beware of angry amphibians who are desperately trying to stay alive. The way OU plays in the first quarter will speak volumes. Slobberknocker shots to the mouth are as predictable as the cold weather.
Prediction: Oklahoma 35, TCU 31
Jim Ross, @JRsBBQ
J.R. is an Oklahoma native who lives in Norman with his wife, Jan. He’s a WWE Hall of Fame broadcaster, two-time New York Times best-selling author, and is recognized as the “voice of pro wrestling” after a 40-year career in the field. His podcast, “The Ross Report,” can be heard on iTunes weekly and is one of the most listened-to podcasts in the world. J.R.’s line of barbecue sauces, chipotle ketchup, jalapeno honey mustard, and all-purpose seasoning/dry rub is available at the three Norman Homeland Grocery Stores and online at www.wweshop.com.
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