Much at Stake this Weekend

November 10, 2017

Joe D. Denton photo courtesy of the Denton family.

Joe D. Denton was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Photo courtesy of the Denton family

On this Friday of Veterans Day weekend, we honor and give thanks to all of our veterans who have served, fought and protected us (U.S.) and our way of life. Many volunteered, others had their lives interrupted to go take on the challenge of aggressors. Thanks to all of those who made and make it great for all of us. My dad, Joe D. Denton served in World War II in the U.S. Army Air Corps. This is one of my favorite pictures of him. He’s 93 now.

Because of our veterans, we are safe and free to turn our attention to “important” things like sports. This weekend is jammed packed at TCU – 

The soccer team opens NCAA playoff action tonight against Arizona in Tucson. Good luck to Eric Bell’s squad. Jamie Dixon’s men’s basketball team opens at home tonight at 8 p.m. against ULM. The team will get their NIT championship rings in a special ceremony before the game. Get there early. Women’s basketball opens the season Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena. Raegan Pebley’s team is ready to roll!

And then there’s a little business item in Norman, Oklahoma tomorrow night.  

No. 5 OU hosting No. 6 TCU in what equates to a first-round playoff game. The loser will have two losses and will be eliminated from College Football Playoff contention, unless something really crazy happens over the next three weeks. The winner has a real shot at moving up in the CFP poll next week as Georgia (at Auburn) and Notre Dame (at Miami) both have tough games this week.

This weekend is why college football is so great. It all funnels down to games like this one in November. So much at stake:

  • A College Football Playoff bid stays alive for the winner.
  • Winner pretty much assures itself a spot in the Big 12 Championship game.
  • Heisman hopes on the line for OU quarterback Baker Mayfield.
  • TCU’s offense, largely lost in this week’s pregame hype, has the opportunity to make a statement.
  • Another shot for TCU to bag ANOTHER quality road win.

It won’t be easy for either team. OU’s No. 1-ranked offense just put 758 yards and 62 points on Oklahoma State (and I think OSU’s defense is pretty good). TCU boasts the No. 6 defense in the nation and just held Texas to one foot per carry. The Frogs allowed all of 27 points in the last four games. Interesting matchup, huh?

But not so fast. I offer that, for TCU fans, the focus needs to be on what the TCU offense does on the road against an OU defense that seems to be hanging on for dear life. With OU, at No. 87 in the nation in total defense, it would seem that TCU should do what it wishes, but the Frogs’ offense has to start fast and get back to where it was vs. OSU. Getting Patrick Morris back at center could help, but there’s no word on his availability. In late September, Coach Gary Patterson said Morris would be out four to five weeks. That was six weeks ago. Maybe Morris is ready to be back in action by now. Quarterback Kenny Hill has to come ready to take what OU gives and be good with his arm, especially in OU’s red zone. Hill has gone without a touchdown pass in three of the last four games. The one game he did throw a touchdown pass was Kansas, in which he threw five. Hill is not without weapons – he’ll need to use them. As always, the running game will be key, not only for production, but also for controlling the clock and limiting Mayfield’s “at bats.”

Speaking of Mayfield, the modern-day version of Doug Flutie has to be contained. He keeps plays alive with his footwork and frustrates defenses with scrambles and throws that make a dead play turn into a big one. OU sets it up with the run game and play action for short throws to receivers on the back side of the play. Keep an eye on the guards and offensive tackles working in combination. OU reloaded in the skill department and pass catchers Marquise Brown, Mark AndrewsJeff Badet, CeeDee Lamb and Dimitri Flowers all have at least 20 catches for at least 330 yards and at least three touchdowns! Mayfield has accounted for 33 touchdowns himself. They put up slot machine type numbers. Keys for TCU will be to stop the run and contain Mayfield, who makes the red zone (normally defined as the area inside the opponent’s 20-yard line) for OU anything inside the opponent’s 50-yard line! Big plays have to be curtailed by TCU’s defense.

This one will likely be similar to all the other games in this series since TCU joined the Large Dozen in 2012. The last five games have been decided by an average of 4.2 points. It’ll be a wild one.

And there’s a chance we’ll do it all over again with the Sooners on December 2nd in the Big 12 Championship Game at Jerry World.

But first thing’s first. We’re on the air tomorrow on the TCU Sports Network at 6 p.m. CT. If you’re in the stadium at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, you can listen to us at 87.7 FM. Bring your radio.

Kick ‘Em High!