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The Big 12’s Best? Oklahoma State Welcomes TCU For Early Season Showdown

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Can the Frogs finally exorcise the Stillwater demon? Take a deep dive into what they are up against.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This is certainly the best team that the Frogs have played in 2017, and could arguably be the top team they face all year. And, they have to go on the road and try in win in Stillwater, something that Gary Patterson has never done. Does TCU have a shot against one of the most efficient and high-powered offenses in the country? Let’s take a look.

Offense:

Oh god. They are so good. This isn’t a case of an offense looking like world-beaters against terrible competition, but a case of an offense looking like a world-beater against terrible competition, and then continuing to be a world-beater once conference play starts.

Oklahoma State is going to score a lot of points in 2017, and the teams that “slow them down” are still going to have to touch 40 themselves to come away with a win. Put them on their home field and it’s practically unfair.

Led by senior QB Mason Rudolph, who has only completed 72% of his passes this year while throwing just 11 TDs in, oh, about 75 minutes of meaningful game time, the Oklahoma State offense is putting up a mere 54 points per game. BRB: have to vomit.

Okay, I’m good now.

Five Cowboys receivers are hauling in 40+ yards per game, led by all-world wideout James Washington’s 122. Washington, who is one of the fastest dudes in pads in the country, is over 28 yards per reception and three scores through three games. But, this year, he has even more help than normal, as redshirt senior Marcell Ateman has really flourished in his final season, using his combination of size (6’4”) and speed for an impressive 18 yards per and three TDs of his own. They are a formidable 1-2 punch, but they aren’t alone - junior Jalen McCleskey picked up where he left off a year ago (as the team’s leading receiver) and redshirt freshman Dylan Stoner (who looks exactly like what you would expect him to) is back to making an impact after missing most of last season with an injury.

And that doesn’t account for Tyron Johnson, who has been injured, but might possibly be the most talented one of the bunch.

Ranthony Texada, can we clone you?

The new wrinkle in the OSU O is a running game... Justice Hill was really good last year as a true freshman, when he went for over 1,100 yards - the top freshman mark in the country and a school record at OSU, moving some guy named Thurman Thomas down to second place. Well, he’s even better now. He was stymied a bit by USA, but is still averaging well over six yards a carry and is halfway to his 2016 mark with three scores. He’s not much of a threat in the passing game, but he doesn’t need to be, so that’s both good and bad news I guess.

The Pokes O-Line has a preseason first teamer and two second teamers on it, all three returning starters. They are leading OSU to nearly 200 yards per game on the ground while only allowing four sacks through three games, so the early returns are positive. They haven’t faced anything close to the TCU defensive line though, so that will certainly be a matchup to watch.

Defense:

It’s really hard to get a bead on the Oklahoma State defense; they did a good job on what is generally an explosive Tulsa team, but the Hurricanes lost most of their playmakers so there were plenty of question marks there. They utterly undressed Pitt on their home field, but... Pitt. The Pokes trail in time of possession this year, which can be challenging for a defensive unit, but when you can score on a long field in mere seconds, thems the breaks, kid.

Tre Flowers is the name most college football fans know, and he leads the team with 15 tackles early. One of the top safeties in the Big 12, Tre has an interception and a PBU through three games. Defensive tackles DeQuinton Osborne and Jordan Brailford have a pair of sacks so far this season - Brailford is finally healthy after flashing potential throughout his career but struggling to stay on the field. Linebacker Justin Phillips leads the team with two picks through three games.

The Pokes have forced 20 punts on the strength of holding opponents under a 45% conversion rate on third downs, helped in part by their offense getting out to big leads and forcing opponents to throw on early downs. They are holding opponents to 3.2 yards per rush and 17 points per game, while limiting pass plays to around 200 yards per contest. Opponents are 5-8 in the red zone with four touchdowns.

The TCU offense should be able to move the ball against the Cowboys, but avoiding first and long situations and costly turnovers will be key to keeping the chains moving.

Special Teams:

Will TCU ever attempt a field goal? Can we just not, this year? Okie State’s Matt Ammendola is just 5-7 early with a long of 53, so if this comes down to the kicking game, hold on to your butts.

Five different players have returned kicks for the Pokes with mixed results - as a unit they are averaging 18 yards a touch. McCleskey hasn’t done much in the punt return game so far, but he’s certainly a weapon there. The punting has been subpar for the Cowboys as well, but it hasn’t mattered much. I think this is an area that TCU might be able to make a momentum shifting type of play.

Prediction:

I never pick against the Frogs.

Legitimately, I can count on one hand the number of times I have done that.

But, man, this Okie State team is good, Stillwater has had Patterson’s number, and I just don’t trust Kenny Hill to not make a big mistake in a big game.

I really really really hope that we get the TCU team that plays lights out with a chip on its shoulder, puts together a near perfect game on both sides of the ball, and contains an explosive offense through sheer force of will and lots of speed. It could happen.

But...

I don’t think it will Saturday. Give me the Cowboys, 38-33, in a game that comes down to the fourth quarter and leaves Frog fans feeling like a Big 12 Championship rematch could still be in the cards.

You know what? Screw it. All I have heard over the last 24 hours is that TCU isn’t any good and that Okie State is going to beat them by three scores or more and that Mason Rudolph is an unstoppable god with a football in his hands and Gary Patterson is overrated and the secondary will get torched and embarrassed AND YOU KNOW WHAT? The TCU players have heard it too.

And they are going to play angry. And they are going to play with pride. AND THEY ARE GOING TO BRING THE WOOD.

The Frogs have as many Big 12 titles as the Pokes and it took them 15 years to get theirs. They have all of 18 wins against Oklahoma and it’s taken them 110 games to get there. Yeah, they’ve owned TCU since the inception of the Big 12, but the one year the Frogs played them with a healthy team, it was an utter destruction. TCU is pretty healthy going into Stillwater, sans

TCU may lose this game. But it’s not going to be by the 50+ to 20+ margins I am seeing out of the Cowboys’ fan base and CRFF. You haven’t played anyone, Okie State. And as cool as your mullet is, it doesn’t give you bonus points on the scoreboard.

I am calling my shot: TCU 41, Oklahoma State 35.