Game Primer: OU vs TCU

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Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 10, 2017
5 Oklahoma
OklahomaTCU
TCU
Saturday, Nov. 11 / 7 p.m. CT / Owen Field /  

OPENING KICK

• In a battle of Big 12 first-place teams, No. 5/5/7 Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) hosts No. 8/8/9 TCU (8-1, 5-1) Saturday at 7 p.m. CT. The game is being televised nationally by FOX, with Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft announcing.

• Saturday's game will mark the highest-ranked matchup ever between Oklahoma and TCU. The previous highest combined ranking came in 2015 when the No. 7 Sooners beat the No. 11 Horned Frogs 30-29. This will be the fifth all-time top-25 matchup between the programs, with OU holding a 3-1 edge.

• OU's five games against TCU since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 have been decided by a total of 21 points (average of 4.2), with the largest margin of victory in that time being just seven points (OU won 24-17 in 2012).

• Oklahoma owns an 11-5 (.688) all-time record against TCU. However, the teams are 4-4 in the series in Norman. Since TCU joined the Big 12, the Sooners own a 4-1 series record (2-0 in Norman). TCU's lone victory during the stretch was a 37-33 outcome in 2014 in Fort Worth. OU has won the last two overall meetings and five of the last six.

• OU has won 21 of its last 22 Big 12 games dating back to the 2015 season. Its only loss came at the hands of Iowa State on Oct. 7.

• With a win Saturday, Lincoln Riley would become just the third Oklahoma head coach (out of 22) to win at least nine games in his debut season, joining Barry Switzer (10 in 1973) and Chuck Fairbanks (10 in 1967).

• The reigning Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, Baker Mayfield has thrown for 401 yards on 32-of-50 passing (64.0%) with four TDs and no interceptions in two games against TCU during his OU career. He’s also rushed 22 times for 97 yards (4.4 average) and two more scores. Mayfield did not play in the second half of the Sooners' 30-29 win in 2015 in Norman (injured on last drive of first half).

FOR THE FANS

• Two hours before each home game, head coach Lincoln Riley and the Sooners will disembark the team buses immediately west of the intersection of Lindsey St. and Jenkins Ave. for the "Walk of Champions." A pep rally, conducted by OU Spirit, will be held 15 minutes prior to the team's arrival. This week's pep rally will be at 4:45 p.m. with the team arriving at 5 p.m. Fans are encouraged to cheer on the team upon arrival and watch as Coach Riley and the squad walk the final yards west along Lindsey St. to their locker room.

• Sooner Fan Fest will be held in the Rhyne Hall parking lot directly east of McCasland Field House. It opens at 3 p.m. off Jenkins Ave. and concludes at 6:30 p.m. Fans will have the opportunity to meet Boomer and Sooner and have their photos taken with the Sooner Schooner, the mascots and members of the OU spirit squads at the OU Marketing trailer. Other activities at Fan Fest include a live band, a jumbotron showing games from around the country and interactive booths. Food will be available from the following food trucks: Midway Deli, The Meating Place, Let's Go Greek, Phill Me Up Cheesesteaks, Kona Ice and Dippin' Dots. And the Sooner Radio Network (flagship 107.7 The Franchise) will be broadcasting live from Fan Fest with Toby Rowland, Merv Johnson, Chris Plank, Ted Lehman and Rufus Alexander.

FIVE KEY STORYLINES

• Saturday's game will pit the nation's most productive offense against one of the nation's best defenses. Oklahoma leads the country in total offense (608.2 ypg), passing offense (395.0 ypg), yards per play (8.6), offensive touchdowns (53), passing efficiency rating (205.0), pass completion percentage (72.7) and percent of possessions ending in a touchdown (48.6), and leads the Big 12 in rushing offense (213.2 ypg). TCU leads the nation in rushing defense (69.7 ypg) and paces the Big 12 in total defense (284.1 ypg; ranks sixth nationally), scoring defense (13.9 ppg; ranks sixth nationally), passing defense (214.4 ypg; ranks 57th nationally) and sacks (3.1 per game; ranks 11th nationally).

• After finishing fourth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2015 and third in 2016, Baker Mayfield has been even better in 2017. In eight-and-a-half games (he did not play after halftime against UTEP), Mayfield is 195-for-272 (71.7 percent) through the air with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions. He leads the country with his 201.6 pass efficiency rating (next best among Power 5 QBs is 172.7) after last year setting the FBS single-season record with a 196.4 mark. He also ranks first nationally in pass completion percentage (71.7), yards per pass attempt (11.9) and yards per completion (16.5; would be an FBS single-season record).

• Sophomore running back Rodney Anderson rushed for 154 yards on 22 carries (25.7 per game) over OU's first six contests, but over the last three outings has run for 439 yards on 64 carries (146.3 ypg; 6.9 ypc) with at least 111 yards in all three games. He has 555 all-purpose yards  during the three-game stretch (185.0 average), as well as five total TDs (three rushing, two receiving). Anderson's freshman season of 2015 ended in the second game due to a broken leg, and his redshirt freshman season of 2016 ended during August camp due to a broken bone in his neck.

• After registering 230 receiving yards and one touchdown on 14 receptions over OU's first five games, first-year receiver Marquise Brown has tallied 513 yards and three TDs on 24 catches over the last four outings. The sophomore junior college transfer is averaging 146.7 receiving yards over the last three games with three scores. On the season, he has three games of at least 126 receiving yards, including a school-record 265-yard performance Saturday at Oklahoma State. Brown leads the Sooners with 743 receiving yards and 92.9 yards per game (ranks 13th nationally).

• Oklahoma has won the same number of Big 12 championships over the last 18 years (10) as it has lost home games. OU is 104-10 (.912) at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium since the start of the 1999 season, with all 114 of those games sellouts. It is the best home winning percentage among Power Five schools over the last 18-plus seasons (Ohio State is next at .879). OU has outscored its opponents by an average of 42-16 in those games.

SCOUTING TCU

• No. 8/8/9 TCU rebounded from its only loss of the season, a 14-7 setback at Iowa State two weeks ago, with a 24-7 home victory against Texas on Saturday. Senior quarterback Kenny Hill threw for 146 yards on 18-of-26 passing, and registered a stretch of 12 consecutive completions. Sophomore running back Darius Anderson led the Frogs in rushing for the seventh time in nine games thanks to a 99-yard performance. He carried 18 times and scored a touchdown. Senior Kyle Hicks added 41 yards on the ground and a pair of scores.

• TCU ranks 26th nationally out of 129 teams in scoring offense (35.8 ppg), 38th in total offense (434.9 ypg), 40th in rushing offense (193.0 ypg) and 55th in passing offense (241.9 ypg).

• Hill averages 223.2 passing yards and 240.3 yards of total offense per game, both of which rank fifth in the Big 12. Anderson and Hicks provide a balanced rushing attack, averaging 80.7 and 62.1 yards per game, respectively.

• On the other side of the ball, TCU has held opponents to under 10 points five times this season and has not allowed a touchdown in 13 of the last 16 quarters. The Frogs racked up a season-high seven sacks against the Longhorns and held them to just nine rushing yards, the third time the defense has held an opponent to fewer than 25 yards this season. It was also TCU's fifth time this year allowing 70 or fewer rushing yards, including the fourth straight game. Junior defensive end Ben Banogu (6.5) and senior linebacker Mat Boesen (5.0) rank second and fourth in the league, respectively, in sacks.

LAST YEAR VS. THE HORNED FROGS

• Oklahoma held a 49-24 lead entering the fourth quarter but had to hang on for a 52-46 win at TCU in last year's Big 12 opener for both teams on Oct. 1. After trailing 21-7 at the end of the first quarter, OU outscored the Horned Frogs 42-3 in the second and third quarters. TCU made it a 49-46 game with 5:36 remaining before Austin Seibert put OU up by six with a 35-yard field goal with 1:55 to go. The Sooners held on the ensuing series, not allowing a first down.

• Six Sooners who started in the previous game against Ohio State did not play against TCU due to injury (two offensive, four defensive).

• Baker Mayfield completed 23 of 30 pass attempts for 274 yards and two touchdowns while running for 55 yards and two more scores as the Sooners won their 36th straight regular season game following a regular season loss.

• Running backs Joe Mixon (105 yards on 16 carries, 1 TD) and Samaje Perine (98 yards on 17 carries, 2 TDs) combined for 203 rushing yards and three scores. Mixon finished with 221 all-purpose yards (70 receiving on five catches and 46 kick return).

• Wide receiver Dede Westbrook finished with a game-high seven catches for a then-career-high 158 yards and two TDs. His scores came from 67 and 40 yards.

• Linebackers Jordan Evans (10 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss) and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (6 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss) combined for 16 tackles and 4.5 TFLs. Both of Okoronkwo's sacks came on TCU's final possession to help preserve the win.

• Steven Parker’s first-quarter interception was the first of his career.

OFFENSE HAS ROLLED UNDER RILEY, MAYFIELD

• Oklahoma has a legitimate claim as the nation's most productive offense since the start of the 2015 season, which was Lincoln Riley's first year as OU's offensive coordinator and quarterback Baker Mayfield's first playing for the Sooners. Riley called plays as the program's offensive coordinator and continues to as head coach.

• The Sooners have posted a 30-5 (.857) record since Riley's and Mayfield's OU debut (22-2 in Big 12 play), with Mayfield the starter in all 35 contests. That record is tied for third best in the country with Ohio State since the start of 2015. Only Alabama (37-2) and Clemson (36-3) have better records during that span.

• Since the start of the 2015 season, OU ranks first nationally in passing efficiency rating (186.4; next closest is 165.0 and next closet Power 5 is 159.8), completion percentage (69.5), points per game (44.1) and total offense (5,594) and is sixth in passing offense (334.1; fifth in Power 5) and 19th in rushing offense (25.3; ninth in Power 5).

• Four of OU's top five single-game total offense yardage figures since 2000, and six of the top nine have come over the last 29 games.

MORE MAYFIELD

• Baker Mayfield is 22-2 in Big 12 games as a Sooner, completing 481-of-679 passes (70.8 percent) for 7,383 yards (307.6 per game) and 74 touchdowns against just 14 interceptions (5.3-to-1 ratio) for a pass efficiency rating of 194.0. He has averaged 15.3 yards per completion and 10.9 yards per attempt. Mayfield has also rushed for 14 scores in those outings.

• Mayfield has thrown a TD pass in a school-record 35 consecutive games (every contest of his OU career). Only Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (36; 2006-08) had a longer streak in Big 12 history and only four have longer streaks in FBS annals. Mayfield has thrown at least two TD passes in a Big 12-record 22 straight contests (68 TDs to 13 interceptions during the stretch). That is the second-longest FBS streak since at least 1996 (and likely ever).

• Including his 2013 campaign at Texas Tech, Mayfield is averaging 9.67 yards per pass attempt for his career. Only two FBS players who have finished their career boast a higher average (9.90 by Boise State's Ryan Dinwiddie from 2000-03; 9.82 by BYU's Ty Detmer from 1988-91). At OU, Mayfield is averaging 10.63 yards per attempt.

• Mayfield is tied for 10th in FBS history with 116 career TD passes (12 at Texas Tech, 104 at Oklahoma). He needs one TD pass to tie Hawaii's Timmy Chang (2000-04) for ninth place, and needs five to tie BYU's Ty Detmer (1988-91) and Georgia's Aaron Murray (2010-13) for seventh. Oklahoma's Landry Jones (2009-12) ranks sixth on the list with 123. The record is 155 by Houston's Case Keenum (2007-11).

• Mayfield owns a 173.6 career passing efficiency rating. Among FBS players who have finished their career, only OU's Sam Bradford (175.6 from 2007-09) owns a higher mark. Mayfield's efficiency rating as a Sooner is an astounding 188.9.

OFFENSE EVEN BETTER AFTER LOSS OF KEY WEAPONS

• Despite losing three highly accomplished offensive skill players to the NFL Draft in the spring, OU leads the nation in yards per game (608.2; next most is 579.4) and yards per play (8.6) this year. The departed trio of Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook (1,524 receiving yards, 18 total TDs last year), Samaje Perine (OU's all-time rushing leader; 1,060 rushing yards, 12 rushing TDs last year) and Joe Mixon (single-season OU record of 2,331 all-purpose yards, 16 TDs last year) accounted for 5,447 all-purpose yards and 47 touchdowns last season.

• Last year the Sooners averaged 7.5 yards per play, the second-highest figure in school history (the 1971 team averaged 7.6), but this year's squad is averaging 1.1 more yards per play. OU's 608.2 yards per game this year are 53.4 more per contest than last season (554.8).

• OU has registered more than 500 yards in eight of its nine games this year (490 at Ohio State in the other), and has racked up more than 600 yards in six contests. OU surpassed the 600-yard mark in four games all of last season.

• Three of the Sooners' top six single-game yards-per-play figures have come this season (4th – 10.6 at Baylor; 5th – 10.3 at Oklahoma State; and 6th – 10.2 vs. Tulane).

IMPACT FRESHMEN

• Three of OU's top playmakers on either side of the ball are true freshmen. Running back Trey Sermon ranks second on the team by averaging 63.1 rushing yards per contest and by amassing six total touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving). Sermon has rushed for a team-high 568 yards (6.0 per carry) and has caught 14 passes for 120 yards.

• Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who last year as a high school senior registered 2,032 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns, leads the Sooners with six receiving scores. He ranks third with 33 catches and third with 65.7 receiving yards per game despite missing the final three quarters of the Oct. 7 Iowa State contest due to an injury. He ranks second nationally among freshmen with his 17.9 yards per catch and is on pace to break Kenny Stills’ OU freshman record of 786 receiving yards set in 2010. Lamb is just one score off teammate Mark Andrews’ freshman receiving TD record of seven in 2015.

• Kenneth Murray has started every game at middle linebacker and ranks third on the team with 48 tackles (5.3 per contest). He became OU's first true freshman in 42 years to start a season opener at inside linebacker (Daryl Hunt was the last to do it in 1975).

GETTING DEFENSIVE

• Senior defensive end/linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo leads the Big 12 and is tied for fifth nationally with 8.0 sacks (0.9 per game), is tied for the Big 12 lead and tied for seventh nationally with three forced fumbles, and ranks second in the league with 14.0 tackles for loss (1.6 per game).

• Senior defensive end D.J. Ward is tied for fifth in the Big 12 with his 4.5 sacks while redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Kenneth Mann is tied for eighth with 4.0 sacks.

EXTRA POINTS

• Oklahoma has scored at least 30 points in 18 of its last 19 games (its school-record streak of 15 games was halted three weeks ago in a 29-24 win over Texas).

• The Sooners have completed a nation-leading 59 passes of 20-plus yards, good for an average of 6.6 per game. OU is the only team in the country with four plays from scrimmage of at least 80 yards (last year it registered one), and one of just two teams with three pass plays of at least 80 yards.

• OU has won its last 10 games in the month of November.

• Reigning Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week Austin Seibert ranks sixth nationally by registering touchbacks on 78.3 percent of his kickoffs (47 of 60). The junior is 7-for-9 on field goal attempts on the season (5-for-5 the last three games) and has made all 44 point-after attempts.

• Senior fullback Dimitri Flowers has scored a team-high eight touchdowns on his 31 touches this season (one every 3.9 touches). He is one of two players in the country to have at least four rushing touchdowns and four receiving scores, joining North Carolina State’s Jaylen Samuels.

• Junior Mark Andrews leads the nation's tight ends with his 39 receptions, 701 receiving yards and 19.0 yards per catch this season. He has also caught four touchdown passes this year.