This was an intriguing match-up going in as both teams fought for positioning in the Big 12 race. Both teams still had Kansas State on the schedule and were looking to stay close before their own games with the undefeated Big 12 leader. After a slow start, the Cowboys ran away from TCU, scoring 36 unanswered points to finish the game and setting up another huge Big 12 showdown this Saturday in Manhattan.
The TCU Pessimist
The fear among the TCU faithful came to the forefront on Saturday. No, it wasn’t whether the TCU defense could stop Oklahoma St. It was whether the offense would continue to be as dynamic as it had been the last few weeks while using a redshirt freshman quarterback. The answer was a painful one to take. After an early touchdown, TCU limped its way offensively through the last three quarters against OSU. Trevone Boykin, after putting up numbers that no one really expected in previous games, came crashing down with a 21-of-40, 185 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT performance.
Adding salt to the wound, with 1:26 left in the game, Boykin was hit as he threw his interception and left the game with an apparent left knee injury. At this time, the extent of his injury is unknown, and we may not know until Saturday whether he can play. Prior to his injury, Boykin was out of rhythm the entire game. Against blitzes, against three- or four-man rushes, it didn’t matter. He rushed throws, continually threw wildly and was ineffective as a runner (9 car, 22 yds). His replacement, sophomore Matt Brown, entered the game and promptly threw an interception to end the game for the Frogs.
Summary: The injury to Boykin is a concern on a couple of levels. First and foremost, Boykin needs to be on the field to continue to grow as TCU’s future quarterback. His time on the field is invaluable for his growth, not only as a passer/rusher but as a leader for this football team. Second, if he is unable to go, the Frogs are down to their third-string quarterback with No. 21 West Virginia, No. 2 Kansas State, No. 23 Texas and No. 12 Oklahoma to finish the season. With or without Boykin, a win may be hard to come by, which would end the Frogs’ year at 5-7. Of course, that means TCU would miss a bowl bid in its first year as a Big 12 member.
The OSU Pessimist
For Oklahoma State, it was a tale of two teams — the team that started the game with a freshman quarterback (Wes Lunt) who looked like he hadn’t played in five or six weeks (oh wait, he hadn’t…), and the team that scored 36 points in a row to end the game, led by the same quarterback who found his rhythm and looked like the leader of an explosive offense.
Lunt started off slow, including a pick-six that gave TCU an early 7-0 lead. Then, several three-and-outs that allowed TCU to build its lead to 14-0 before the light came on Lunt’s head, and he remembered he had the talent to play this game. His overall completion percentage was not pretty at 54 percent (18-of-33). But, he did have 324 yards with a touchdown. The fear moving forward is its uncertain which Lunt OSU can expect. Will it always take almost a quarter for him to figure it out? Or, will he look great for half a game, only to see, with the game on the line, “bad/rusty Wes” show up, the ‘Pokes slip up, and the team loses a close one? The other worry for Oklahoma St. was its red zone offense. Oklahoma St. kicked five field goals (making them all) with a LONG of 34 yards. When teams are able to score on Oklahoma St., the Cowboys don’t want to make it a habit of having to settle for 3 (see the 41-36 loss to Texas, for example).
Summary: After warming up against TCU, the Cowboys were able to coast home on the coattails of 36 unanswered points. TCU looked lost on offense at times, which won’t be the case next week when OSU travels to K–State —a well-oiled offensive machine the last year-and-a-half with Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein. If Oklahoma St. doesn’t play four good quarters of offense, it could be a long day in Manhattan.
The TCU Optimist
While the final score wasn’t in the Horned Frogs’ favor, Gary Patterson has to be pleased with the effort to carry out his game plan. Although the offense couldn’t get much going (so it seemed) for most of the day, it still managed to tally 344 yards of total offense while winning the TOP battle 31:18 – 28:42.
The other half of that game plan is where Patterson will always hang his hat. Oklahoma St. was averaging 605 yards of total offense. Patterson’s defense only allowed 471 yards to the Cowboys while holding OSU to 5-of-16 on third down. More importantly, TCU only allowed three touchdowns to the ‘Pokes in eight red zone appearances. If TCU is able to put together a Big 12-caliber offense (which it has for most of the season to this point), the wins will follow. TCU has yet to put that complete game of offensive consistency and defensive domination together in one football game.
Summary: It’s evident Patterson knows what he’s doing in terms of game planning. Time will tell if he is able to compile enough talent to play and win with the style he is trying to implement in the Big 12.
The OSU Optimist
While the offense stole the show from the second quarter on, it’s easy to get lost on the fact that the Oklahoma St. defense allowed only seven points to a TCU offense averaging 33 points per game. Oklahoma St. did a fantastic job of keeping the promising Boykin off balance. Oklahoma St. defensive coordinator Bill Young blitzed time and time again. First down, third down, “rushing” or “passing” down, it didn’t matter. Also, Young brought guys from all angles and all positions. That effort resulted in the defense compiling two sacks and three turnovers (2 INT/1 fumble). Additionally, Oklahoma St. held TCU to 344 total yards, including 223 yards passing.
Summary: If Oklahoma St. is able to bring an intimidating defense to the table along with the best offense in the NCAA (led by a true freshman quarterback), it could have a huge impact on the Big 12 race. Oklahoma St.’s defense is averaging almost a hundred yards less in total yardage than a year ago (2012-362.7 this year compared to 456.8 in 2011), and when winning the turnover battle 30 like it did against TCU, OSU is very tough to beat. OSU will need that effort again this coming week in Manhattan to be able to be the first team to knock off the Wildcats this season.
The TCU Realist
No matter how many close or competitive games the Horned Frogs play this season, the fact of the matter is they are now 2-3 in the Big 12 with only ranked teams left on the schedule. TCU may be breaking in the third starting quarterback of the season for this week’s match up against West Virginia. Either way, this may be TCU’s best shot in the last four games to get a win. TCU must regroup and get back to work fixing offensive issues. At this point, TCU is ahead of only Baylor and Kansas in the Big 12 standings.
Summary: Patterson knows that TCU is sitting on the fence in terms of having this season become “lost.” If TCU goes on to lose its next four, it will finish the 2012 season on a six-game losing streak. Regardless, if the quarterback/defense is “young,” you never want to let that become an excuse for losing. Good teams reload, not rebuild. It’s imperative that TCU find a way to get to six wins and finish the year off playing in a bowl game.
The OSU Realist
Oklahoma St. looked like at top-25 team, not only offensively but defensively against TCU. Offensively, OSU is able to run and pass (the Cowboys are in the nation’s top 10 in both categories), allowing the ‘Pokes to keep the opposition off-balance and in control of a game’s tempo, which has been the norm during Gundy’s time in Stillwater. This season, however, the defense has shown the ability to slow down opposing offenses and not have to only rely on creating a turnover at the “right” time to affect a game. Last season, OSU had a potent offense but an unreliable defense (107th nationally in total defense in 2011). That group has improved immensely (42nd in total defense in 2012), and the Cowboys are no longer a team that has to score 50 to squeak out a win.
Summary: Oklahoma St. has outscored the opposition 87-38 in the last three games, albeit to Kansas, Iowa St. and TCU. The rest of the schedule isn’t as easy with four of the last five opponents being ranked. The game this coming week will have national championship implications involved when the Cowboys head to K-State to take on the No. 2 Wildcats. Last season was a shootout in Stillwater, with the Cowboys edging the Wildcats 52-45. While many expect a similar game, both teams enter with an improved defense, and the game may very well come down to who can get that one stop to give their team the advantage.
PAST HEAD GAMES
- New to Head Games? Check out the first edition, where we offer a primer in addition to the column itself: Kansas State at Oklahoma.