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Frogs O’ War Roundtable: Oklahoma Sooners

The staff has thoughts on the final Big 12 battle between the Horned Frogs & Sooners

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Oklahoma at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In each of Oklahoma’s two losses this season, the Sooners gave away three turnovers. TCU is last in the Big 12 in defensive interceptions and bottom-10 nationally in defensive fumbles recovered. Can TCU reverse its turnover luck in Norman?

  • Anthony: I’m choosing to believe! The TCU secondary is going to make some noise in this one, creating multiple turnovers. At some point it’s no longer “luck” and just the way the team plays, but I think there is a chance that TCU regresses to the mean here and its defensive turnover numbers normalize as the Frogs bait a hobbled Dillon Gabriel into some bad throws or take advantage of Jackson Arnold’s inexperience if he gets the start on Friday, or somehow otherwise create some fumbles that can turn this game on its head. It may take a pick-six and a scoop-and-score for the Frogs to leave Norman with a win - it may be a gambler’s fallacy, but this defense is due.
  • Austin: I don’t believe so. Despite the turnover-worthy opportunities several offenses have presented TCU, the Horned Frogs haven’t converted. The pass rush doesn’t seem adept at strip sacks nor do the defensive backs seem adept at intercepting passes.
  • Miles: Not sure if they can, but as I wrote in my keys to victory, winning the turnover battle is crucial in this one. The Sooners are 2nd in forced turnovers in the country!
  • Russ: TCU has certainly had chances to force turnovers, but the players just haven’t been able to keep their hands on the football (Nook Bradford, Josh Newton). The Horned Frogs will need a perfect game on Friday and the defense will have to make these plays.

The Horned Frogs & Sooners are the Big 12’s top two passing teams in the Big 12, each averaging over 300 yards per game. Can Josh Hoover outduel Dillon Gabriel and/or Jackson Arnold?

  • Anthony: TCU DC Joe Gillespie is Dillon Gabriel’s personal boogeyman. In three games against a Gillespie-coached defense, Gabriel is 0-3 with 2 total TDs and 3 INTs, averaging under 250 yards per game with eight total rush yards. It’s possible a stat line like that still bests Hoover and delivers a Sooners victory, but if this defense has Gabriel in hell again and Gillespie delivers a defensive masterpiece to down the Sooners, it will have a lot to say about his future in Fort Worth. For Hoover, he just needs to keep it simple: deliver the easy throws when they are available and avoid the back-breaking mistake.
  • Austin: Josh Hoover has been abysmal on the road, yet incredible at home. Is this just a coincidence or is it a trend? Against Oklahoma, the picture will become a tad clearer. I do believe Hoover has the ability to outduel Dillon Gabriel or Jackson Arnold, but I don’t think he will.
  • Miles: Is the talent there? Yes. But Hoover has not been good on the road this season. Perhaps the 4th time’s the charm?
  • Russ: Dillon Gabriel has been prone to stinkers in the past. I can see Josh Hoover outplaying him, particularly if he’s banged up, but turnovers have been an issue for Hoover on the road. He needs a nearly flawless effort on Friday.

Was the blowout win over Baylor a glimpse into an improved TCU or just a symptom of the Bears’ terrible season?

  • Anthony: I tend to lean more towards an indication that the Bears have fully fallen off the cliff and the Frogs took advantage of the opportunity to play against Baylor’s rotting corpse. TCU still had bad red zone missteps, still allowed receivers to run wide open, still had killer penalties and kick return mistakes. Still, you have too go out and destroy even the most over-matched of opponents, which TCU has struggled to do this season, so it’s an encouraging sign that it can take that first step. The question will be whether it can do that consistently and vs. more capable opponents, we’ll find out Friday in Norman.
  • Austin: More so a symptom of the Bears’ terrible season. Time and time again receivers ran wide-open against a weak Baylor secondary. The Bears have certainly seemed to pack-it-in for the season. A win against the Sooners would have me ready to board the TCU bandwagon once again.
  • Miles: A little bit of both in a way. We knew Baylor had been horrendous all year going into the game, so it was pretty much expected. But Hoover has been a completely different quarterback at home than on the road. Whether right or wrong, a lot of TCU’s success rests on his shoulders.
  • Russ: Like Miles said, I think Baylor showed how bad it’s been this season, but TCU still made the same kinds of mistakes that have hurt all season, which were a lack of a consistent run game and an inability to finish red-zone drives with points.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

  • Anthony: Beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, chicken, turkey, you name it! More recently it has become green bean casserole, it’s my wife’s specialty. But really there’s no one standalone dish, it’s about creating the perfect plate where every bite is an exquisite combo of flavors: slices of turkey, dressing, a slice of canned cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, with my Aunt Cherri’s rolls piled on top and a slice of Mom’s chess pie on the side.
  • Austin: Fantastic question. Rather than the obvious, I’ll throw out a name that doesn’t get enough love. Green bean casserole. The sauce and the crisp onion on top are exquisite.
  • Miles: My wife put me on to this one - cream corn mixed in with your mashed potatoes. Elite.
  • Russ: A big ol’ turkey leg with a side of crispy potatoes and all of the dinner rolls.

Offensive MVP vs. Oklahoma

  • Anthony: The correct answer is Josh Hoover as the below articulate, but I’m calling for the Jaylon Robinson game in this one. Last year vs. OU, Taye Barber, Derius Davis, and Gunnar Henderson combined to destroy the OU secondary for 11 catches, 201 yards, and 2 TDs. The Sooner defense is certainly improved in 2023 and all three of those TCU slot receivers are gone, but look for Robinson, JP Richardson, and maybe even JoJo Earle to put in work on Friday.
  • Austin: Another one for Josh Hoover. The Horned Frogs passing game has to be on point. This won’t be a 17-10 game, controlled by the ground game. The Sooners are capable of putting up a lot of points, thus Hoover must look like he did a week ago against Baylor.
  • Miles: Josh Hoover. If TCU is going to win this one it’s because it turned into a shootout. Hoover hasn’t been good on the road this year. For TCU to get bowl eligible he’s going to have to be almost perfect.
  • Russ: Josh Hoover. The 2021 game in Norman was Quentin Johnston’s coming-out party, and there’s a chance that the 2023 version could be Josh Hoover’s introduction to the college football universe.

Defensive MVP vs. Oklahoma

  • Anthony: Namdi Obiazor. Really think it’s all of the linebacker group, facing a tough challenge from the Sooners from all angles. OU’s Gavin Sawchuk has rushed for 100+ yards each of the last three games while Austin Stogner at TE and the slot receivers over the middle, along with Gabriel in the run game. Of the group, it’ll be Obiazor that makes the game changing plays on Friday
  • Austin: Shad Banks. Playing against Dillon Gabriel is tough and his scrambling ability makes it even tougher. As of now, it’s looking like Gabriel will play. Therefore, Banks will be crucial in spying on Gabriel and chasing him down once he gets outside the pocket. Gabriel is third on the Sooners in rushing and first in touchdowns!
  • Miles: Damonic Williams. Oklahoma has done a good job protecting the quarterback this year. If he (and the rest of the defensive line) can create consistent pressure TCU’s chances of winning increase exponentially.
  • Russ: Bud Clark. TCU needs to generate turnovers in order to win this game and Clark leads the team in interceptions. He needs to have a good game, particularly with how successful Oklahoma has been throwing the ball.

Final Score

  • Anthony: Oklahoma wins 42-20
  • Austin: Oklahoma wins 38-21
  • Miles: Oklahoma wins 45-24.
  • Russ: TCU wins 41-38