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Keys to Victory: Cage the Bear

Injuries on both sides have marred what was supposed to be the game of the year, but there's still plenty on the line when these two line up across from each other on Black Friday. What will it take for TCU to pull off the win, and knock BU out of Big XII title contention and a possible playoff spot?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn't matter who is at QB for BU, as we saw last Saturday in Stillwater. They seem to have an endless supply of guys who can sling it; along with a stable of wide receivers who seemingly do nothing but catch long touchdown passes from whoever lines up behind center. And as we saw in the Film Room piece earlier this week, the insertion of former wide receiver Chris Johnson at quarterback may possibly be bad news for TCU, despite his being a 'third stringer' at the position.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter who is or isn't on the field - both teams have had more than their fair share of injuries this season, and the fact that one is still in contention for a conference championship while the other fell a single point short of being the same should be celebrated. But, this is Hate Week, so let's just beat the Bears.

Can a One-Legged Frog Hop the Bears: Let's point out the facts here - Shawn Oakman is a big dude, but not much of a football player. In fact, he might be the most overrated defensive player in college football, having had more success on the internet than the field. His polar opposite is fellow defensive lineman Andrew Billings, who has fewer abs but makes far more plays. All signs point to Trevone Boykin retaking the field after missing the last seven quarters of action for the Frogs, and he assuredly gives TCU the best opportunity to pull out the win. But if he is anything less than 100% - and that's almost a given at this point - BU will dial up the pressure and look to get as many hits on him as they can. The offensive line, who played very well last week in Norman, will need to be just as good or better on their home field to give a hobbled Trevone a clean pocket and time to make his reads. The Frogs will have open receivers - despite the myriad of injuries endured by that position group - but Boykin will need time to find them.

Got Me Feeling Emotions: Speaking of Trevone, the biggest X-Factor Friday may not be his legs, but his heart. Boykin was so amped for the game against OSU three weeks ago that the coaching staff had to call him down - four interceptions later, it appeared he didn't quite get his emotions in control. If he was hyped for that game, we can only imagine what is going through his head leading up to this one. While the stakes aren't technically as high for the season's last game in the Carter, the emotions are surely higher - the hatred flows deep between these two teams and revenge is certainly on their minds. Boykin will line up across from either a true freshman or a third string QB Friday night - and no matter who it ends up being - he has to be better than them, period. The senior, the unquestioned leader, the best QB in the country, that guy has to be the best player on the field. That means he has to play within himself and for his team, without getting too high or too low.

Aaron Green is the Hero We Didn't Know We Needed: Trevone Boykin was the Heisman candidate. Josh Doctson the best receiver in the country. Derrick Kindred the linchpin of the D. In all of that, we forgot about Aaron Green for a while, and now it's time to remember. Green was sublime in the second half Saturday; he ran over, by, and through a stout Sooner D to the tune of just a shade under 100 yards - in the second half. The San Antonio native started out at Nebraska as a five star recruit, and his journey to stardom at TCU took longer than many expected - himself included. But, the success was well worth the wait, as he has made himself in to a pro prospect on the strength of 100 yard days in nine of his last 18 games and a thousand yard season in 2015. Quite possibly the best TCU back since LT, Green's megawatt smile will be missed almost as much as his tough running style. With no shortage of offensive weapons on the other side - even with a third string QB - it will be up to Green to keep the chains moving while Boykin shakes off the rust.

Close the QB Factory: It's almost cliche, but it does seem that Art Briles can plug just about anyone in to his system behind center and produce an all-world collegiate QB. From Griffin to Florence, from Petty to Russell, and now from Stidham to Johnson, when is the last time a Baylor QB wasn't throwing for long touchdowns and lighting up the Big XII? I might be in the minority here, but I don't see any advantage in trading out the true freshman for the 6'5" third stringer. Frankly, Johnson seems more dangerous. But, there is a reason he was moved to wide receiver when the five star prospect enrolled, and that's his accuracy issues. Chris Johnson is an unbelievable athlete, and can seemingly make all the throws. And in the Bears one read offense, he isn't asked to make a lot of second reads. It will be up to the Frog D - led by a defensive line that HAS to be disruptive - to force him to think through coverages and reads and not allow him to sit back comfortably and make easy throws for TDs. I would think, and I may be wrong here, that Briles will have to at least consider protecting Johnson here - there really isn't anyone behind him if he gets nicked. Without Aaron Curry, who has been an absolute beast over the course of the last month, the task to bother CJ gets tougher. But this game will be won, or lost, in the trenches, and I think Davion Pierson, Chris Bradley, and co will be up to the challenge.

Blame it on the Rain: The weather will be a factor for these two teams who have two of the most explosive offenses in the country - not only will it have a mighty impact on the run game and deep passing attack, but a gimpy, hobbled, Boykin playing on slick turf and in cold weather is concerning. You can be sure BU will be taking very opportunity to hit him low, especially when he breaks contain and takes off running. Now, I won't point fingers here after our incident last week in Norman (which I still believe was unintentional but deserved the flag none the less), nor will I point out any past transgressions on the field that went above and beyond basic tackling principals because that is neither here nor there. But we all know the history, we all know how last year's game was officiated, and we all know how this game means maybe just a little bit more. The offensive line is going to have to step up in a big way, Trevone is going to have to make smart plays, and each of us - from the players, to the coaches, to the fans in the stands - are going to have to bring it just a little bit harder Friday night.