Oklahoma Proving Grounds

November 22, 2019

Corey Bethley

Defensive tackle Corey Bethley leads the 2019 TCU Football team with 8.5 career sacks. (Photo by Glen E. Ellman)


A lot of governments and corporations have proving grounds. They’re a place where products, weapons and theories are tested to see if they hold up. For Goodyear, it’s where tires go to be tested and stretched to the absolute limit. Some end in blowouts; some perform without incident and pass the test on their way to the open market, where they’ll be lauded as the greatest thing since the inner tube.

For the Frogs, the proving ground this weekend is Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, where No. 9 Oklahoma (9-1, 7-0 Big 12) hosts TCU (5-5, 3-4 Big 12). And for TCU, there’s a lot to prove.

The Frogs are ready to prove that they can beat OU — their last win over the Sooners was in 2014.

The Frogs need to prove they can compete with OU — the last three OU victories over TCU have been by an average of 22.3 points.

The Frogs have to prove that the are better than their 5-5 record indicates — in my book, TCU is 13 plays away from being a one-loss team.

But plays have to be made.

I can sit here and tell you all about Jalen Hurts, the juggernaut quarterback who is on his way to being a legend at Alabama and OU. But what don’t you already know about him? I can tell you about the Sooners’ defensive front, which sacked UT’s Sam Ehlinger nine … yes, nine times back in October. I can go on and on about OU — they’re fast, they’re powerful, and they’re a card-carrying Big Boy program in college football. The fact is that this game is about TCU and what it can do to acquit itself as a team that is better than it looks.

OU is beatable. They’ve skated on thin ice much of the last six weeks. Sooner insiders will tell you they don’t know what they’re going to get from one half of football to the next. Like every team in the nation, they spent the week with a can of Bondo, patching up holes and covering blemishes. They’ve had close calls and escaped all but one — Kansas State. Baylor jumped on OU early last week but hit the wall in the second half when the effects of a triple-overtime game with TCU took hold. I think Baylor did TCU a favor. There was a lot of fuel, both emotional and physical, used up by the Sooner Schooner last week in the harried comeback win against Baylor. A hangover effect for OU could be the door of opportunity the Frogs are looking to jump through.

The Frogs need a hot start. It’s hard to play from behind, especially on the road. If Max Duggan and Company can get rolling early, it’d be a huge leg up for TCU. I think the Frogs need to work the edge against OU. Kansas State had great success running and throwing outside. A steady dose of the run will eat the clock and minimize Jalen Hurts’ opportunities with the ball.  Third downs will be huge. I love Jonathan Song, and I hope he wins the Lou Groza Award, but the Frogs need TD’s — not field goals — to beat OU.

The TCU defense will do its regular lunchpail job, but they can’t give up big plays or big pass plays to OU. (The Frogs have been guilty of that over the last several games.) Opponents already have 24 plays of 30 yards or more versus TCU this season, as many as the Horned Frogs allowed in all 13 games last year. The secondary will have to be alert for new playmakers to emerge as one of OU’s best receivers, tight end Grant Calcaterra, retired from football this week due to recurring concussions. All American wideout Cee Dee Lamb is also questionable  — he missed the Baylor game last week.

Chilly weather and a chilly reception from Sooner fans await the Frogs. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 40s at kickoff at 7:05 p.m. CT.

We’re on the air on the Horned Frog Sports Network at 6 p.m. CT.  Join us as the Frogs shoot to get bowl eligible.

The proving grounds await.

Until then,


Kick ‘Em High!