Is slowing Anderson a bigger priority than Baker? For a TCU team that prides itself on stopping the run, it very well may be.
In the game that pushed him into the spotlight, Anderson gained 290 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns during a 38-20 win over TCU. He will be a priority for TCU’s defense in the rematch when his second-ranked Sooners (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) face the 10th-ranked Horned Frogs (10-2, 7-2) in the Big 12 Championship game Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
”We’ve got to tackle the running backs,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. ”We did a poor job (the first time), and one of the reasons is a good player, is Rodney Anderson. You don’t tackle very well, then you’re going to have a hard time playing good defense. So you defend that, you defend the deep ball, you’ve got a chance.”
Battle of the QBs? Well, yeah, but Baker isn’t the only worry for GP.
TCU: QB Kenny Hill, 215-323-5 for 2,604 yards, 19 TD. RB Kyle Hicks, 125 carries for 565 yards, 4 TD. WR Desmon White, 33 catches, 362 yards, 4 TD; WR KaVontae Turpin, 32-343-1. LB Travin Howard, 83 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT; S Ridwan Issahaku, 59 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT; S Nick Orr, 59 tackles, 2 INT.
Oklahoma: QB Baker Mayfield, 247-346-5 for 4,097 yards, 37 TD. RB Rodney Anderson, 138 carries for 867 yards, 11 TD. TE Mark Andrews, 51 catches for 848 yards, 6 TD; WR Marquise Brown, 46-894-5; WR CeeDee Lamb, 40-741-7. LB Emmanuel Beal, 81 tackles, 1 INT; LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, 64 tackles, 8 sacks.
A boon for the TCU defense, but Patrick Morris was missing on the depth chart, and that could spell trouble.
Backup linebackers Sammy Douglas and Arico Evans have had strong games partnering with Ty Summers. Douglas led the team in tackles against Texas Tech, while Evans was second in the game. They have combined for 24 tackles in the two games.
Reserve safety Markell Simmons recorded eight tackles and an interception in the two games without Small, despite not practicing either week, Patterson said.
Root for chaos?
According to the most recent Fivethirtyeight.com prediction model, of the 10 teams that still have a chance of making the final four, TCU currently has the ninth best chance at 6 percent. But, that number has the potential to increase, albeit slightly.
Per that same prediction model, TCU’s highest percentage of earning a playoff bid is 22 percent. For the sake of this exercise, the most efficient way to keep track of where teams stand is the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, not last week’s CFP rankings.
Hopefully, this is just the beginning for Jamie Dixon’s squad.
The Frogs last appeared in the AP Top 25 at No. 25 on Dec. 22, 2014, during a 13-0 start under Trent Johnson. Their highest ranking all-time is 12th during the 1951-52 season.
The school record for consecutive wins is 16 from Jan. 8 to March 5, 1998, during a 27-6 season. The streak ended against New Mexico in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament, and the Frogs lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament a week later. It is the winningest team in TCU history and the last to make the NCAAs.
Current TCU coach Jamie Dixon was a player on the Frogs team that won 14 straight from Dec. 13, 1986, to Jan. 31, 1987, under Jim Killingsworth. That team saw its streak end against Baylor during the Southwest Conference schedule and finished 24-7 following a loss to Notre Dame in the second round at the NCAA East Regional.