Here’s what we’ll be watching when TCU visits Oklahoma at 6 p.m. (CT) at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Corralling Trevone Boykin: Oklahoma’s defense is better prepared to handle a quarterback with the running skills of TCU quarterback Boykin than last year’s group. Linebacker Eric Striker has brought aggressiveness and relentlessness to the Sooners’ defense, while fellow linebackers Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon are playing better than they did in 2012.
Continued success on the ground: The Sooners are outrushing opponents by an average of more than 120 yards per game as 59 of their 98 first downs have come on the ground. Senior running backs Brennan Clay, Damien Williams and Roy Finch have played well as OU has used the trio to keep defenses off balance this season.
Another test for Blake Bell: The junior has passed every test thus far with flying colors so there’s every reason to believe he can excel against the best secondary he has faced this season. The windows and passing lanes will be smaller on Saturday, but Bell has shown the ability to hit receivers in stride on short passes. If the Horned Frogs take the short passing game away he will have to make them pay with accurate deep throws as well.
Special teams battle: TCU already has two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season and averages 19.57 yards per punt return. The Sooners coverage teams can’t afford any slipups that could get returners Brandon Carter or B.J. Catalon into the open field. A big return could give the Horned Frogs confidence and change the game.
Protecting Bell and the football: The Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 in sacks and turnovers forced so protecting Bell and continuing to limit their turnovers is critical for OU. Mental mistakes and negative plays are the foundation of TCU’s defensive success so the Sooners should be just fine if they can protect Bell and the football.