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Keys to the Game: Oklahoma State vs. TCU

The Horned Frogs will be tasked with stopping a Cowboy offense that hung 50 points on Texas Tech recently.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Oklahoma State Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The last two encounters between TCU and Oklahoma State have been decided by seven points. It could potentially be a third consecutive close battle this weekend, with the Horned Frogs attempting to go over the .500 mark for the first time in the 2020 season.

Both teams boast similar offensive numbers and quarterbacks who pose dual-threat potential for opposing defenses. TCU and Oklahoma State have also run the ball very well this season, with both teams averaging nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. The Horned Frogs have been slightly better defending the run, but that unit will be tested by a talented Cowboy backfield.

A victory would be the second over a ranked this season for TCU, while Oklahoma State can cement its place near the top of the Big 12 standings with a win of its own. The Horned Frogs currently sit in seventh, but they can vault up to as high as fourth if several games fall in their favor. Texas must beat Kansas State and then lost its finale to Kansas, while West Virginia must fall to both Iowa State and Oklahoma. Oklahoma State must lost against TCU and Baylor over its last two games.

Here are three keys to the Oklahoma State-TCU matchup this weekend.

Who Can Throw?

It’s expected that both teams will establish their running attacks on Saturday, but Max Duggan and Spencer Sanders have both been inconsistent through the air this season. Whichever team finds more success in the passing game will carry a significant advantage, and for TCU, that starts with shutting down Tylan Wallace. Sanders has been quite pedestrian outside of his four-touchdown performance against Texas. Excluding that game, he’s thrown four interceptions and only two touchdowns in five appearances.

Force the Pass

TCU’s defensive line has stepped its game up in recent weeks, with Ochaun Mathis and freshman Khari Coleman emerging as two of the best pass rushers in the Big 12. Freshmen Earl Barquet and Patrick Jenkins have also helped clog the middle in the absence of Corey Bethley and Soni Misi. These four men, among others, will need to deliver a strong performance this weekend, and that begins with clamping down Oklahoma State’s rushing attack, whether that’s led by Dezmon Jackson, Chuba Hubbard or LD Brown.

Special Teams

Derius Davis has taken the reigns as TCU’s special teams dynamo this season, returning multiple punts for touchdowns including one against Kansas this past weekend. Close games often rely on significant special teams plays to swing the tide, and Davis could be the man to change momentum for the Horned Frogs with some big plays on that end. Another player to watch could be kicker Griffin Kell, who has been solid recently, going 7-for-8 on field goals and 15-for-16 on extra points over his last four games.